The Kelsey Museum is found on the campus of University of Michigan in Newberry Hall and William Upjohn Exhibit Wing in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The museum is free and open the public Tuesday through Sunday.
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The Kelsey Museum was inspired by Professor Francis W. Kelsey who taught Latin at the University of Michigan from 1889-1927 and wanted to develop a program for collecting antiques to be used in teaching. He also began the first university-sponsored archaeological excavations in 1924 which took place in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern regions including Egypt and Iraq.
The Museum of Classical Archaeology was established in 1928, shortly after the professor’s death. In 1953, the museum was renamed to honor Professor Kelsey. The Museum’s location in Newberry Hall began as the Student Christian Association with construction beginning in 1888. One of the library windows is a Tiffany Window, one of two left in the area. The building has been renovated several times including 1993 and 2003 for expansion and the addition of the William E Upjohn Wing where the museum’s collection is stored in a climate controlled environment. Newberry Hall was sold to the University in 1937 and is one of the oldest buildings on campus.
The Collection at the Kelsey Museum is comprised of more than 100,000 artifacts from prehistoric through medieval times, that have been mostly acquired through university sponsored excavations. However, around 1/3 of the collection were gifts or purchases, including a donation of 3,338 objects from Peter Ruthven. There is also an archive of photographs from the fine arts and archaeological fields that contains more than 25,000 prints.
Most of the artifacts are from Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Near East and are displayed in the Upjohn Wing and Kelsey Museum. The special exhibitions are curated by Kelsey Museum staff and artifacts that are not on display are kept in climate controlled storage. The Collection contains the most artifacts from Graeco-Roman Egypt with 45,000 objects, second only to the Cairo Museum. They also have one of the largest collection of Parthian pottery in the world, over 40,000 ancient coins, the largest western collection of Latin inscriptions, and an extension collection of Egyptian Mummy Masks. A database of the artifacts in the collection is available online.
The permanent exhibition is a broad representation of the museum holdings and was reinstalled in the William E. Upjohn Exhibit Wing in 2009. The museum is dedicated to special exhibitions curated from the archival collection or feature museum initiatives and field work. A schedule of special exhibitions with details on artifacts can be found on the Kelsey Museum website. More recent past exhibitions have included:
· The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance
· Course Display Case: Women of Etruria
· 2016-2017 Less Than Perfect
· Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii
· Passionate Curiosities: Collecting in Egypt and The Near East
· Death Dogs: The Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt
· Discovery! Excavating the Ancient World
· Karanis Revealed: The Past and Present of a Michigan Excavation in Egypt
After a special exhibition, the artifacts are preserved in an online catalogue and kept in climate controlled storage facilities.
Education and Events
The Kelsey Museum offers educational tours for Universities and K-12 programs. Tours, programs and workshops do have fees that directly benefit the education department at the museum.
University Programs- The Kelsey Museum has many programs for University of Michigan and other institutions including University class tours, Experiential Learning activities, and a student volunteer group. Kelsey Staff also provides outreach services to groups that cannot come to the museum and sponsors the Jackier Prize—an undergraduate essay competition for students taking courses related to the ancient world including archaeology and anthropology.
K-12 Programs- These programs include self-guided tours, School outreach for classes not able to visit the museum in person, traveling education kits for educators to use in their classrooms, and an annual teacher open house held in October. Guided tours of the museum are tailored to specific grade level and curriculum based on either archaeology, Egypt, Greece, Rome, or the Near East.
Public Programs- There are many ways for the community to enjoy the Kelsey Museum. An online calendar of events and programming can be found on the Kelsey Museum website. Programs include lectures and discussions, workshops relating to special exhibitions, and a Family Day in the spring and fall where docents lead activities for families based on current exhibitions. The Kelsey Museum is also available for community outreach to local groups.
434 South State Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109, Phone: 734-764-9304