READING, PA — The Reading Public Museum announced its Ancient Civilizations Gallery, home to long-time resident mummy Nefrina, will undergo an extensive renovation project. The renovated exhibit will utilize state-of-the-art technology with an updated and fully automated control system which will allow Nefrina to appear as a hologram and tell visitors the story of her life.
Funded through support from Museum Board member Jerome I. Marcus M.D., and the JerLyn Foundation, planning and creative design for this project began in March of 2020 led by Berks County companies NeoPangea and Burkey Construction. Brett Bagenstose, founder and creative director of NeoPangea, states, “Nefrina has been a source of wonder and education in our community for 90 years. We are so honored to partner with The Museum as well as Burkey Construction, to modernize the exhibit and to bring her story to life.”
Installation is set to begin on September 7 of this year with the grand-opening reveal on September 26 at The Museum’s annual fundraiser, Night at The Museum.
Vice President of Burkey Construction, Matt Forrer, remarked that, “Many of us at Burkey Construction remember seeing Nefrina for the first time when we were kids, so to be part of the team that brings her new exhibit to life is very exciting. Working with a company like NeoPangea, as well as The Museum, has allowed our Custom Service division to really get creative. Knowing Burkey’s contribution will bring life, excitement, and continued education to children and visitors for decades to come is truly a privilege.”
The Museum worked with Egyptologist Melinda Hartwig, Ph.D., Curator of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University to ensure her appearance and narrative were historically accurate, and the actress tapped to portray Nefrina was selected based on Nefrina’s appearance in the forensic bust, created by renowned forensic artist Frank Bender, more than a decade ago.
John Graydon Smith, Director and CEO of The Museum states, “Bringing Nefrina ‘to life’ through this remarkable experience will transform her gallery in such a dramatic way that she’ll now be showcased in a setting befitting her status as The Museum’s star.”
Nefrina lived approximately 250 BC, and arrived at the Reading Public Museum in 1930, on loan from the University of Pennsylvania — later purchased by the Museum in 1949. Over the last 90 years, she has achieved celebrity status with generations of visits from school students and families.