Carnegie Museum of Natural History received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that will fund the development of an immersive virtual experience centered on the museum’s ancient Egyptian funerary boat.
The museum was awarded a $29,962 Humanities Digital Projects for the Public grant, which NEH developed to support projects that contribute to public engagement in the humanities through digital platforms.
The grant will fund the initial research and planning stages of an on-site immersive virtual experience that will simulate a journey on the Nile in the royal funerary boat of pharaoh Senwosret III (c. 1887-1848 BCE).
“This is an opportunity for us to utilize technology and plan an engaging new exhibit around a fascinating piece of our Egyptian collection,” said Dr. Eric Dorfman, director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “This grant ensures that we will have the proper scholarship and expertise we need on the front end of the project.”
The boat, which was discovered outside of Cairo in the Dashur pyramid complex, is currently on display in Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt. Egyptologists believe that the boat, one of four discovered at Dashur, was used in funerary rituals to transport the pharaoh’s body across the Nile where it was mummified and buried.
“The Carnegie boat can provide museum visitors a tangible connection to how the ancient Egyptians viewed life, death, and the afterlife as extensions of the natural world,” said Dr. Erin Peters, an assistant curator of science and research at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
The museum plans to use the immersive virtual experience as a centerpiece for Egypt on the Nile, a new exhibition Carnegie Museum of Natural History is developing that will explore the parallels between the natural and human history of ancient Egypt and the modern world. The exhibition is being planned for 2020-2021.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.
“NEH provides support for projects across America that preserve our heritage, promote scholarly discoveries, and make the best of America’s humanities ideas available to all Americans,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “We are proud to announce this latest group of grantees who, through their projects and research, will bring valuable lessons of history and culture to Americans.”
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this report do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.