From 2020 to 2022, extensive treatments were carried out at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts to prepare exhibits from the museum's collection for the exhibition Ancient Egyptian Mummies. The Art of Immortality. Among the conserved objects were those connected with the funeral rites of ancient Egyptians, human and animal mummies, sarcophagi, cardboard masks and mummy covers. Most of the exhibits are on display for the first time. The objects are made of stone, wood, metal, fired clay and fabric.
Most of the objects came to the museum in 1911 from the collection of the first Russian egyptologist, V. Golenishchev. Others came in 1924, 1934 and 1940 from the Museum-Institute for the Classical Orient, which in 1918-1924 amassed the nationalised collections of pre-revolutionary museums and estates, as well as from the collections of A. Prakhov (1846-1916), A. Zhivago (1860-1940) and some other collectors.
Twenty-nine animal and bird mummies were sent to the Textile Conservation Workshop from the Department of Ancient Eastern Art, but not all of them were included in the exhibition because they were in a very poor condition.
Mummified animals were placed in burials not only because they were favourites of their owners during their life, but also because they were perceived as a food reserve, so that the deceased had food to eat in the afterlife. Animals personifying a particular deity were kept in shrines and were also embalmed after death. Furthermore, animal mummies were brought to the temples as votive gifts in gratitude for this or that favour from the deity.
During the examination it was discovered that the linen bandages used for swaddling animal mummies, now in the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, are very fragile, badly dried out and rotten in places. In many cases there were losses, tears, heavy dust contamination, as well as severe deformations, through cuts and changes in the shape of the mummies. The paint layer of the cardboard parts had crumbling, flaking and abrasions.
Prior to the restoration and conservation, each item underwent an antiseptic treatment. Surface dust contamination was then removed with a soft brush using a restoration vacuum cleaner, and the hard dark contamination was removed with a scalpel where possible. The exposed areas of the mummies - skin, beaks, claws, feathers - were cleaned with small, semi-damp cotton swabs. Depending on the condition, tears and loosened tissue fragments were fixed either with glue or with a needle and silk thread. Some large losses were lined in places. Paint layers and cardboard bases were cleaned and reinforced. Subsequently, an acid-free cardboard storage box was made for each mummy.