Albany Institute of History and Art hosts Egyptian Family Festival Feb. 14

It's not uncommon for Steve Ricci to get e-mails at the Albany Institute of History and Art asking if the museum still has mummies on display.

Co-worker Kristen Gilbank was at a conference recently when a man who used to live in New York approached her with the same question: Were the mummies still at the museum?

Suffice to say, the mummies are one of the big draws at the Institute of History and Art. On Saturday, Feb. 14, they'll be one of the centerpieces of the museum's annual Egyptian Family Festival.

Adults remember coming to see the mummies as kids, Ricci, the institute's public relations and marketing manager, said. "They remain hugely popular."

There are three mummies at the museum. Two are people; one is an animal. The animal was originally thought to be a cat, but high-tech scanning revealed that it was actually a dog based on its skull structure.

As for the humans, one mummy is a female, who remains fully wrapped. The other is a male who had extensive hieroglyphics on his coffin that allowed researchers to learn a lot about him -- including that he was not a pharaoh, a question posed often to museum staff.

"He was an everyday man," said Gilbank, the institute's education program manager.

Named Ankhefenmut, the man was a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes. He was probably between 55 and 65 years old when he died.

Gilbank said Ankhefenmut provides a great opportunity for the workers at the museum to teach kids about everyday life in Egypt. The topic has proved captivating for kids as young as kindergarteners. Gilbank said, "a real love of Egypt starts around 5." She's met kids at previous Egyptian Family Festivals who were just 6 and were budding Egyptologists, the term for people who specialize in ancient Egypt.

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