Funeral Services program showcased for new "Mummies" show

August  4, 2014

Contact: Jamie Holter
Director of Communications and Marketing
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
(206) 719-7535

Kirkland, WA - An international film crew is coming to Kirkland's Lake Washington Institute of Technology's funeral service lab on August 6 to complete interviews for "Mummies Alive!," a new international television series scheduled to debut in 2015.

In this episode, embalming historian Jon Austin will demonstrate preservation techniques used to embalm Sylvester, Seattle's own Ye Olde Curiosity Shop mummy. Legend has it that Sylvester was preserved by dry desert sands, but scientists have found evidence that he was actually embalmed with arsenic. He has been on display in Seattle since 1955 and is a key attraction at the Seattle landmark.

Although Sylvester was embalmed nearly 120 years ago, show producers sought a state-of-the-art lab as a backdrop for the contemporary interview. The lab has multiple tables, all tools of the trade, refrigerated lockers for storage, and mannequins to practice facial reconstruction.

FSE Masks

In the Funeral Services lab, students are trained to recreate faces. They start with a typical styrofoam head then build a wax face on the head. To practice, they take pictures - sometimes of famous people like Winston Churchill or Jay Z - and build an identical wax face. It's really quite remarkable to walk into a room and see a dozen faces, all with eyes closed as if they are sleeping.

"We have to make sure our research is 100 percent accurate and our experts are leaders in their field," said Mick Grogan, director for Saloon Media. "That's why we're delighted to have the opportunity to film the unique facilities at Lake Washington's funeral service lab."

Nearly every Seattleite and every Seattle tourist knows Sylvester, but not everyone knows his organs are well preserved and scientists can access his organs through a hole in his abdomen. This allows the use of endoscopic tools to retrace his life and death.

Funeral Service Program

The unique Funeral Service Education program is a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program that prepares students for employment as funeral service directors or professional embalmers. The program is the only accredited funeral service education degree program in Washington State and one of only a few on the West Coast.

"It is a privilege to assist Saloon Media on this project," said Lauren Budrow, Funeral Service Education Program Director. "We embrace the opportunity to educate the public about the history of body preservation. From mummification to present-day embalming, preservation techniques have been used for centuries, assisting the bereaved in saying good-bye to their loved ones."


Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) is a public, broad-based technical institute providing education in more than 40 areas of study and offering pathways to certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees designed to give students the latest cutting edge skills relevant to today's workplace. Founded in 1949, LWTech offers hands-on, real-world training in manufacturing, transportation, energy, business, allied health, engineering, computer and information systems, food and hospitality, and health and fitness. For information and news about Lake Washington Institute of Technology programs, please visit our Pressroom.

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