National Geographic Treasures of the Earth Opens June 11
Under the Sand . . . lies the tomb of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Seti I. It is the longest, deepest and most ornate tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Under the Earth . . . lies what many consider one of the greatest finds of the 20th century: the Terra Cotta Warriors of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi.
Under the Sea . . . lies the only pirate shipwreck ever discovered in the Caribbean, Captain Kidd's Cara Merchant.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis brings real archaeology from three extraordinary discoveries to children and families in the new permanent exhibit, National Geographic Treasures of the Earth. The exhibit opens June 11, 2011, and spans the globe and nearly 3,000 years of history. Visitors will explore the science of archaeology, the history and arts of ancient Egypt and China and the seafaring culture of what historians call "The Golden Age of Piracy."
"Our commitment to "extraordinary, always" means we continue to go to great lengths to develop the most authentic and extraordinary experiences possible utilizing strategic global partnerships that have been years in the making," said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. "We believe our passion for connecting children and families with real experiences, real artifacts, and real experts contributes to our stature as the world's biggest and best children's museum," he said.
Global partnerships were essential in creating the most authentic experience possible. With assistance from National Geographic Society experts, teams of museum staff members visited historic sites and met with experts in China, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Washington, D.C., and at Indiana University Bloomington. Methods were analyzed, sites were photographed in detail, tools and artifacts were acquired, and real and relevant objects were borrowed from a host of cooperating museums.
"Visitors to the exhibition will feel as if they've embarked on an international adventure as they learn about the meticulous aspects of an archaeologist's work and take an active role in discovering and investigating these sites," said Susan Norton, director of the National Geographic Museum. "Since our founding in 1888, National Geographic has shared amazing stories and incredible discoveries with each new generation. The 'Treasures of the Earth' exhibition at The Children's Museum is another way for us to do just that."
Tomb of Seti I (Valley of the Kings in Egypt)
The tomb of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Seti I is the longest, deepest and most ornate in the famed Valley of the Kings. Visitors to the Museum discover carefully re-created areas of the beautifully carved and painted burial chamber of Seti I and learn about ancient Egyptian beliefs. Families actually become part of an archaeological team exploring the interactive clues to determine who is buried in the tomb. In the Archaeology Lab, visitors can examine a CT scan of Seti's mummy (the only replica of Seti's mummy). A sound and light show helps families work together to interpret the tomb's hieroglyphs, see real artifacts from the time of Seti I, and reassemble a re-creation of the pharaoh's broken sarcophagus lid. Kids can crawl their way through the mysterious tunnel from Seti I's tomb based on the real one discovered at the site in Egypt and carry away debris and rubble blocking the tunnel. Famed Egyptologist and archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass is actively involved in the development of this section. He is the archaeologist who was working in the tomb to find the tunnel and determine if it led to the "real" burial chamber of Seti I. "One of the best moments in the lifetime of an archaeologist is to reveal the answer to a mystery," said Hawass. "I am proud to have revealed the mystery of the tunnel within the tomb of Seti I. Excavating, crawling, discovering hieroglyphics and finally coming to the end of the tunnel of Seti I was an adventure that cannot be forgotten and this exhibit provides a way that children can experience the same thrill."
Terra Cotta Warriors (Xi'an, China)
At the tender age of 13, Zhao Zheng became the ruler of the Kingdom of Qin in 237 BC. He took the title Qin Shi Huangdi, which means "First Emperor of Qin." (Qin is pronounced "chin"). In fact, the area we call China today derived its name from his name. Visitors to the new exhibit will discover how the First Emperor of China revolutionized society, unifying it politically and economically. As families walk in to the re-created excavation site, they'll be flanked by two rows of warrior replicas (general, archers and infantrymen - each with a unique face). The thrill of real archaeology becomes hands-on as visitors dig for pieces of the first emperor's past in a re-created version of one of the most celebrated finds of the 20th century. Other activities encourage the reconstruction of a warrior from re-created pieces and the virtual re-painting of warriors based on scientific clues discovered.
Captain Kidd Shipwreck (off the coast of the Dominican Republic)
William Kidd was the captain of a ship that was legally contracted by the British government to attack pirates and commandeer enemy trade ships during wartime. In 1696, he captured the Cara Merchant. The event was his undoing and he was hanged for being a pirate in what became one of the greatest scandals of his age. The largest children's museum in the world joins forces with an incredible explorer who very well could be on the verge of discovering some of the most historic ships in history. In this portion of the exhibit, visitors will see the only cannon brought to the surface from the only pirate shipwreck ever discovered in the Caribbean.
Charles Beeker and the Indiana University Office of Underwater Science have been close collaborators on this section. "Kids will be like sponges wanting to hear the history, wanting to hear about the archaeology, wanting to know more about the ships and the corals, all because of this pirate," said Beeker. "But also as good teachers, we're going to educate entire families about what the world was like in the 17th century and what that tells us about life today." The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is active in a unique partnership with Beeker and his underwater archaeology team to search for and recover artifacts from other historic ships that are believed to be in the Caribbean near the Dominican Republic such as: the lost fleet of Columbus (1495), excavation of Captain Kidd's Cara Merchant (1699), the search for Henry Morgan's Flagship, the HMS Oxford (1668), excavation of Nuestra Señora de Begoña (1725), search for Le Marquis de Galliffet (1770-1783-1785?)
National Geographic Treasures of the Earth is a partnership between The Children's Museum of Indianapolis and the National Geographic Society, Dr. Zahi Hawass and Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, China's Shanxii Provincial Institute for Archaeological Research and Xi'an Municipal Museum, and Indiana University Bloomington and its Department of Underwater Science.
The exhibit is made possible through generous support from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, The Enid Goodrich Fund for Educational Initiatives, R.B. Annis Educational Foundation, Marilyn and Jim Bartlett Family, and Virginia Tutterow.
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Note: Video of the exhibit is available upon request.