A couple of weeks ago, CBS News ran a story about an ancient mummy shroud that was recently discovered — not in Egypt, but in storage in a museum in Scotland.

I vaguely remember once when I was very young hearing someone opine that many of the greatest historical discoveries yet to be announced had already been made — but they were sitting in a warehouse or museum storage somewhere. Like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.

Just file it to the right of “Aladdin’s Lamp” and to the left of “Aztec Gold”

This certainly does seem to be the case a remarkable amount of the time. While there are no shortage of “traditional,” field discoveries still to be made, there are easily dozens of significant finds, just in the last few years, that have been made by reexamining existing museum collections, or even the structures of the museums themselves. In fact, only a few days ago, on April 16, the remains of five archbishops of Canterbury who had died hundreds of years earlier was discovered beneath a museum  in London.

Here are a few more examples of discoveries made in museums:

  • The remains of an ancient “super croc” were discovered in another museum in Scotland
  • Not really a “hidden” find, but a 250-year-old Rembrandt sketch was discovered in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Germany. For decades it had been displayed under another artist’s name.
  • In 2014, a previously undiscovered dinosaur species known as Pentaceratops aquilonius was discovered in storage in a museum in Canada
  • In 2016, a Mozart score was discovered in the reserve collection in the Czech National Museum. The piece was co-written with Antonio Salieri — the man accused of poisoning Mozart after the composers early death.
  • A chicken-sized dinosaur was discovered sitting in pieces in the drawers of two museums in Canada
  • Scientists at the Penn Museum found a human body: a 6,500-year-old skeleton that had been sitting in storage for 85
  • A previously unidentified species of cricket was found in a bug collection that had sat in a museum for more than a century
  • A gun used in an attack by Protestant paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in 1992 that left 5 Catholics dead was discovered on display in the Imperial War Museum in London.
  • And, of course, I wrote about how a famous sculpture was found to be hiding a human skeleton after being on display for 150 years.

For those interested in the story of the mummy shroud found in the Scottish museum, you can watch the full report from CBS This Morning here:


Featured image credit: CBS News, screen captured from the video embedded in this story

Other image credit: Wikimedia Commons, Blythe House Science Museum