The New York Grimpendium: Brooklyn Mummies

My new book, The New York Grimpendium, comes out October 1 [UPDATE: Available now]. Like its predecessor The New England Grimpendium, it covers my experiences traveling to hundreds of death-related locations and artifacts in the region. Below is one of a series of photo essays from sites in the book that I’ll be posting over the next few weeks. If you live in or like New York, the book is for you. If you’re a bit morbid, the book is also for you, even if you’ve never been to the Empire State. After all, death is a punch line we all get.

September 21, 2012 — I never want to write a grimpendium that doesn’t feature mummies in it. I just love ancient and ritualistically entombed desiccated corpses. They’re everything we need to know about time, death, and belief, all wrapped up in linen. In The New York Grimpendium, we’ve got mummies at the Buffalo Museum of Science and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. However, my favorite mummy experience was at the Brooklyn Museum’s “Mummy Chamber.” First, because they called it the "Mummy Chamber,” but also for all the reasons below:


The ominous, tall entrance to the
black-walled and atmospheric
Mummy Chamber.


A section of mummy bandage, complete with inscribed
spell and directions to the 14 underworld mounds in
the afterlife. Too awesome.

Canopic jars, for the organs of the embalmed.


A scroll with another spell for the dead,
the translation of which sounds eerily like
a resurrections spell. For example:
"I shall have power in my heart.
I shall have power in my arms.
I shall have power in my legs."

Cat mummy.

Top shelf: Ibis mummy.
Bottom shelf: Baby croc mummy.

And there's even a clip from the 1933 Universal Pictures
The Mummy. All tallied, a perfect score,
Brooklyn Museum curators.

Read all about my visits to the mummies of New York in The New York Grimpendium, which is on sale now: