Having one of those days when you want your mummy? Head on over to the Washington State History Museum and take in the new Wrapped! exhibit, which highlights mummies and the public’s long interest in them.
First, if you have any interest in archaeology or Egyptian history, I’d plan a separate day to go on your own. Even the best behaved kids are likely to want to gallop through, and this is truly an excellent, excellent exhibit. Now, don’t go expecting glittering gold treasures a la King Tut. There are many artifacts on display, but most of them are quite small and not at all twinkly! The centerpiece of the exhibit is Tacoma’s own mummy, or rather his sarcophogas and coffin, both of which were brought from Egypt in the 1900’s by early Tacoma booster, Alan Mason. There are also many excellent video exhibits showing how scientists use modern technology like CT scans to see inside mummies and find out how they lived. This was a just right combination of cool and gross for my 8 year old. There are also several interactive displays your kids will love, including a replica of a tomb wall they can try to put together and another area where they can make a rubbing. My kids both loved this.
Now, the real antiquities are under glass, so you don’t need to worry too much about grabby fingers, but because it’s a mix of “do this,” and “just look,” I’d probably take first graders and up. We did have Henry with us, and he did o.k., but I would have been a lot less sweaty without him. One nice feature is a little symbol on the signs that indicates there is something interactive to do at that spot. I’d try to show your kids that symbol first (it looks like the “Pow!” in comic books) and coach them to look for it before they go to touch or examine anything.
After Wrapped! make some time to check out the permanent exhibit on railroads (your kids will want to press the button and make them go). There are also a number of interactive exhibits designed just for kids in the History Lab section. On the main floor, ask for a picture scavenger hunt. Your kids can learn about Native Americans and early settlers of our region as they try to find the items on the hunt. If they turn it in completed, or just look kind of cute, they will receive a truly beautiful Washington State map.
If you’re on a budget, don’t forget you can get a pass to the museum from the Pierce County Library System, or the King County Library System. The PCL libraries have physical passes you check out, and you’ll want to search the catalog for availability before you go. The KCL system allows you to check passes out online and print off a ticket. Don’t forget that if you have a card from one system, you can get a free card from the other.
I’ll have a future update on the future of the museum. As you may know, it’s slated for closure under the current budget, but I’m hopeful it will be saved.