Most residents of Richmond, Indiana like to think they know the entirety of the history that the city offers. Richmond is brimming with national musical recording history to include, jazz greats like Hoagy Carmichael, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, country artists like Gene Autry and much more rich musical history, which is obvious to anyone who has driven through the depot district or by one of the many music-related murals. The city also has an abundance of architectural and artistic history, among other things.
However, one of Richmond’s most unique, historically attractive attributes goes widely unnoticed throughout the community. This attraction, or rather ‘these’ attractions, are from quite possibly the most interesting period in world history and have forever titillated the minds of the historically literate and illiterate alike.
At a museum there is only one thing that can get a child as excited as walking into the gift store: mummies. Surprising to most, Richmond houses the only two permanent mummy displays that can be found in the state of Indiana.
The first, located at the Wayne County Historical Museum, is 3,000 years old and is displayed with its visually stunning coffin. The mummy, a male, is suspected to have died around the age of 35. The mummy is placed in the museum’s ‘Egyptian Room’ and is surrounded by a myriad of Ancient Egyptian artifacts. To make the presence of the mummy even more impressive, visitors can see what the mummy looked like while alive. This is due to the work of one anthropologist, whom utilized a cat scan to determine the mummy’s appearance.
The second, located at the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History on the campus of Earlham College, was acquired by the museum in 1889 and is named Ta’an. Each of the mummies serves as one of the most, if not the most, interesting artifacts in its respective museum. Fortunately for Ta’an and the Joseph Moore Museum, the mummy escaped near disaster in 1924. In the early morning of October 23, 1924, a night watchman noticed Lindley Hall, the campus building that the mummy used to be housed in, was on fire. Quickly, many of the students rushed to the museum in an effort to save as many artifacts as possible. Luckily, the mummy was rescued and quickly carried to safety. As far as historians know, the mummy housed at the Wayne County Historical Museum has never been placed in the same amount of peril.
Today, the mummies can be viewed in their safe environments, free from malicious flames. The Wayne CountyHistorical Museum is open Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm and Saturday, 1pm-4pm. Admission fees are $7.00 for adults, $4.00 for students 6-18 and free for members and children under 6. The Joseph More Museum of Natural History is open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1pm-5pm. Admission is free and donations are welcome.
Come visit a vestige of history in the very interesting city of Richmond, Indiana. You will not regret it.
George Myers is a recent graduate of Ball State University and currently resides in Noblesville, IN. He earned his degree in public relations and most recently has enjoyed interning for the City of Richmond, IN.