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Museums of the Past into the Future: The Oriental Institute and the Kelsey Museum

December 12, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

A conversation between:

Chris Woods, Director, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Terry G. Wilfong, Director, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, U-M


The Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan share similar backgrounds and histories. Founded in the prosperity of the 1920s as part of the wider-ranging projects of visionary scholars, the two archaeological museums focus on an expansive program of investigation of the ancient history of the Mediterranean and Middle East. But these two museums have taken very different paths to the present and face different challenges for the future. The discussion will cover the history of these unique institutions as well as their present situations and future possibilities.


Christopher Woods is John A. Wilson Professor and Director of the Oriental Institute, and member of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Program in the Ancient Mediterranean World at the University of Chicago. He received his BS from Yale University and his PhD in Assyriology from Harvard University and was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows before joining the faculty of the University of Chicago. His research interests include Sumerian writing and language as well as early Mesopotamian religion, literature, and administration.  He is author of The Grammar of Perspective: The Sumerian Conjugation Prefixes as a System of Voice (Brill, 2008), Materials for the Sumerian Lexicon (Volume 18) and is currently completing a monograph on early cuneiform writing, The Origins and Development of Writing in Ancient Mesopotamia: A History, 3500 — 2000 BCE.


Terry G. Wilfong is Director and Curator for Graeco-Roman Egypt at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and Professor of Egyptology in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. Wilfong received his BA, MA, and PhD in Egyptology at the University of Chicago. As a scholar, he has dedicated himself to the Kelsey Museum’s collections from the University’s 1924-1935 excavations of the Egyptian sites of Karanis, Soknopaiou Nesos, and Terenouthis, sites chosen by the original excavators to illustrate daily life in Egypt in the Greek and Roman periods (c. 332 BCE – 641 CE). As a curator and museum director, Wilfong has used these collections to address wider areas of archaeological inquiry, including concepts such as gender, sound, childhood, and fire. He has also supervised an ongoing series of contemporary art installations in which artists respond to the ancient material in the Kelsey’s collections. Wilfong has recently published two monographs on ancient Egyptian religion and practices relating to death and burial: Death Dogs: The Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt (2015), and Life, Death and Afterlife in Ancient Egypt: The Coffin of Djehutymose in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology (2012).


Co-sponsored by the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the University of Michigan Bicentennial

Woods and Wilfong Announcement


December 12, 2017
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


U-M Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium
525 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 United States
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