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Mummified Human Arm.
Frozen in a friendly wave, the arm greets visitors to the Slater Memorial Museum.

Mummified Human Arm

Field review by the editors.

Norwich, Connecticut

The Slater Memorial Museum is famous for its "Cast Gallery," a room filled with 150 full-size, accurate plaster replicas of famous classical sculptures from antiquity and the Renaissance. It's also known for its collection of Norwich-area art and history, including the Norwich-invented exploding lance and whale bomb gun.

Slater Memorial Museum.
The world's most famous sculptures, all in one Connecticut room.

But for all of its many highlights, this place really should be better known for its mummified human arm.

"It makes me a little uncomfortable, I'll be really honest," said museum director Vivian Zoe of the arm, although she acknowledged that mummified human arms are even more rare than Cast Galleries in American museums.

The Slater Museum opened on November 23, 1888, bankrolled by William Albert Slater, an extremely rich son of a Connecticut cotton mill baron. The arm is not William Slater's. According to Vivian, it was donated to the museum in the 1970s by Peter Pellettieri, a Connecticut sculptor and art professor. He claimed that it came from an Egyptian mummy. "It has that to say for itself," said Vivian, and the museum accordingly displays it in a showcase with other Egyptian artifacts.

Mummified Human Arm.
No amount of moisturizer would save this hand.

The arm, always an awkward relic, could have been quietly retired after Pellettieri died in 1997, stuck in a box somewhere and long forgotten. But Vivian is proud of the museum's eclectic reputation -- "We are quirky all over the place!" she exclaimed -- and so the arm stays, serving, she said, as a kind of ropey, desiccated ambassador to those who otherwise might not visit.

"It's definitely not a classical arm," Vivian said. "But if it brings people in and they become fascinated, then they might look at other stuff that isn't quite so gruesome."

Also see: Doug Bast's Human Arm | Civil War Museum's Human Arm

Mummified Human Arm

Slater Memorial Museum

108 Crescent St., Norwich, CT
Slater Memorial Museum. North edge of town, on the campus of Norwich Free Academy. From Crescent St. turn into the parking lot just north of the intersection of Joseph Perkins Rd. When school is in session, ask the guard at the gate to direct you to museum parking.
Tu-F 9-4, Sa-Su 1-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $3.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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In the region:
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