Mummies at the Wayne County Historical Museum & Joseph Moore Museum

These two museums in Richmond, Indiana, both have a mummy among their permanent collections. 

Wayne County Historical Museum & Joseph Moore Museum in Richmond, Indiana (photo courtesy of destination)

The ancient Egyptians honored their dead by preserving their bodies through mummification and burying them in elaborate tombs alongside gifts and tributes that guaranteed safe travel into the afterlife. Two of those mummies have made an additional journey: this time, from Egypt to the rather unexpected final destination of … Indiana.

At the Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, visitors young and old can marvel at the mummified remains of a 3,000-year-old male from Cairo, purchased by museum founder and world traveler Julia Gaar in 1929. Surrounded by 12 display cases full of Egyptian objects and artifacts that were used in everyday life but also preserved in tombs for use in the afterlife, the mummy is housed in a painted coffin, where it remains a centerpiece of the museum’s extensive exhibits. A CT scan conducted on the mummy offers insight into the man’s bone structure, while a 3D model created by a forensic artist reveals what his face might have looked like when he was alive millennia ago.

Oddly enough, that’s not the only mummy travelers will find in this east-central Indiana city. Believed to be the daughter of an Egyptian priest, a mummy known as Lady Ta’an lies in repose about 2 miles west of the Wayne County Historical Museum at the Joseph Moore Museum on Earlham College’s campus. College president Joseph John Mills purchased the specimen for the museum’s collection in 1889 and it has remained there ever since. Having survived a devastating fire at the museum in 1924, Ta’an now rests in an elaborately decorated sarcophagus in the institution’s basement. 

Wayne County Historical Museum, 150 N. A St., Richmond, IN, 765/962-5756,; 801 National Road W., Richmond, IN, 765/983-1303,

Story: Amy Lynch
Issue: Fall/Winter 2021