Secrets of the Silk Road, a highly anticipated Penn Museum exhibit featured in the Jan./Feb. Gazette, will open this Saturday without its most important guest: a 3,800-year-old Chinese mummy. And she won’t be the only one missing from the exhibit; Chinese government officials have unexpectedly pulled more than 150 artifacts they had loaned for the show, which already appeared at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Silk Road was planned to be the Museum’s first exhibit with timed-ticket entry, and the institution had pre-sold several thousand tickets. Now, those tickets will be refunded, and according to an Associated Press article, the Museum will present “a pared-down display using photos of the mummies and artifacts, along with multimedia exhibits, a recreated excavation site and interactive stations…free with regular museum admission.”
The reason behind the decision hasn’t been made public – not even to the exhibition’s consulting curator, Chinese language and literature professor Victor Mair. As he told the Daily Pennsylvanian: “…the Chinese government suddenly told us — without giving any explanation why — that we are not permitted to open the crates.”
The shocking news has been reported by major news outlets across the country. Here is a small sampling of that coverage:
- The Associated Press: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h71SgbIgso0otjotn2gYs5lwZckg?docId=e9a2c8cb3f2c40828592781166b81d23
- The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/03/AR2011020307066.html
- The New York Times: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/china-asks-penn-museum-to-remove-all-artifacts-from-upcoming-show/
- Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/02/china-bowers-museum-mummies-.html