Welcome to After Death!
This virtual exhibition is dedicated to museum objects from around the world that tell us about what happens after death – to our bodies, our souls, and much more.
From artefacts from Ancient Egypt, the most death-obsessed culture to this day, to (early) modern books and scores with inscriptions by people we know very little about, from bodies of animals used for science and sacrifice to human bodies that have also had both religious and scientific significance, to the controversial topic of abortion, this exhibition deals with a variety of areas related to death and ‘afterlife’ in its many forms. Death and what comes after is something that everyone thinks about at some point in their life, and this exhibition is a collection of stories that we hope will start some important conversations between our visitors and make you think differently about death and what comes after. Perhaps you will find that the way we treat dead animals is not entirely different from what we do with humans, or that it is not just pharaohs and kings that leave important artefacts behind them.
Let us show you around…
For more interesting facts, anecdotes and a more in-depth discussion of the objects, you can listen to the audioguide to After Death. Audio files related to each object can be found in that object’s section. Additional audio assistance with descriptions of objects can be found on the Audio Assistance page here.
For our visitors with hearing difficulties, as well as for anyone more keen on reading rather than listening, we have also prepared a full exhibition catalogue that has all the information from the audioguide. And if you are hungry for more, we have added a further reading page to make it easier to find additional resources.
Some of the terms used in the exhibition might be less familiar to you than others – which is why there is our wonderful glossary for all unfamiliar terms. Let us know in the commentaries if you think something should be added to it!
Enjoy your visit 🙂
This exhibition deals with themes and objects some visitors may find uncomfortable.
- ‘Afterlife and After Death’ and ‘Books and Scores after Death’ contain no sensitive content
- ‘Sacrificial Animals’ deals with taxidermy and animal dissection
- ‘Fate of One’s Bones’ contains one image of a dead body –  St Catherine of Sienna’s head
- ‘Life after Abortion’ deals with the topic of abortion and contains images of abortion instruments
We advise that visitors under 12 years old view this content with an adult supervisor.
The recommended age for viewing the last two parts of the exhibition is 14.
Meet the team
James worked with the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology on the Worked stone fragment. With a background ranging from epidemiology and statistics to philosophy, he approached the fragment methodically. Focusing initially on the materials and methods and then building up to the pyramid complex it belonged to and their significance.
Lucie worked with the UCL Library Special Collections on Otto Van Veen’s book Amorum Emblemata. Working along with the curator Tabitha Tuckett, she spent several weeks trying to read and understand the Latin and English inscriptions upon the book, in order to reconstruct the book’s story since the early 17th century.
Alexia collaborated with the Grant Museum of Zoology. Her work focused on the Jar of Terrapins, as a case study for the entirety of the ‘Assorted Specimens’ cabinet. Alexia’s academic experience in the fields of philosophy of science and anthropology have brought her to narrow down her scope on the concept of the spiritual within science research.
Alex researched the cast of the skull of Sir Thomas Browne, working with UCL Anthopology curator, Suzie White, and Barabara Miller, a long-term parishioner of the church of St Peter Mancroft where Browne is buried. The cast’s story, along with her work in Highgate Cemetery and her research in Medieval culture, have sparked Alex’s interest in the perception and ‘use’ of human remains throughout history that is reflected in the ‘Fate of One’s Bones’ section of this exhibition.
Mariana became interested in the views surrounding abortion after working in the Pathology Collection of the Royal Free Hospital. Through studying the Foreign Body from Bladder she began to understand the stigmas and issues faced by women in late 1800s England and some countries today and became passionate about raising awareness of the procedures used and the possible after effects.