20.10.2021 – 24.04.2022

Anna Catharina Bischoff The Mummy of Barfüsser Church

Three years ago an international research group led by Natural History Museum Basel managed to identify a previously nameless mummy as Anna Catharina Bischoff, who died in 1787. The book published by Christoph Merian Verlag 'Anna Catharina Bischoff. The Lady of Barfüsser Church' ['Anna Catharina Bischoff. Die Mumie aus der Barfüsserkirche'] gives a fascinating account of this exciting interdisciplinary search for clues about Switzerland’s best preserved mummy.
This book publication was the occasion of a small exhibition in the mezzanine of the museum.

On the occasion of the book publication, which reports on this exciting interdisciplinary search for clues around the identity of the Barfüssermummy, all museum visitors were able to take a look at the best-preserved mummy in Switzerland in a small exhibition.

Citizen science project

A team of scientists and arts scholars, as well as citizen scientists, studied Switzerland’s best preserved mummy in a project that lasted for years. It was eventually possible to decipher the identity of the “Lady of Barfüsser Church”. She is Anna Catharina Bischoff, born in Strasbourg in 1719, daughter of a Basel pastor, later a pastor’s wife and mother of seven. She spent the autumn of her life – very likely suffering from syphilis – in her home town of Basel, where she was treated for her illness.

The book portrays the almost forensic work of the interdisciplinary research team. It gives surprising insights into the fate of a woman in the 18th century and into everyday life in Basel and Strasbourg at that time. The search for the ancestors of Anna Catharina Bischoff also revealed something astonishing: It led through diplomats, revolutionaries and poets’ wives to the current UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.