The University Record, April 3, 1995

New Kelsey exhibition focuses on preservation; opens April 7

New Kelsey exhibition focuses on preservation; opens April 7

By Ric Smith
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

The Kelsey Museum's newest exhibition, "Preserving Eternity: Modern Goals, Ancient Intentions," opens Friday (April 7) and runs through August.

The exhibition details the differences and similarities between preservation methods in Dynastic Egypt and conservation techniques used in the present-day museum.

Curators Janet Richards and Terry Wilfong have selected artifacts from the Kelsey collection they feel have been underrepresented in previous exhibitions, as well as many popular ones from prior exhibitions.

The pieces, all from the Dynastic period of ancient Egypt (c.a. 3000—300 B.C.), include animal mummies (cat, bird, dog, baboon), burial amulets, canopic jars (used to store important organs of the deceased), and the intricately painted coffin of Djheutymose.

Djheutymose was a man of the early sixth century B.C., a "priest of Horus," and "priest of the Golden One." The coffin's inclusion in the exhibition marks the first time it has been shown on the Ann Arbor campus, and the exhibition explores previously unsuspected links between it and other objects in the Kelsey collection.

The objects displayed in the exhibition show "an intersection of intense concern with preservation&emdash;a concern modern museums and ancient Egyptians share," says Richards, who is visiting assistant professor in the Department of History of Art. "The Egyptians wished to extend their lives beyond death, while museums want to extend the life of cultural remains."

Because this belief in the afterlife permeated the lives of all Egyptians, the exhibition shows not only the traditional artifacts excavated from the tombs of the socially elite, but also those from tombs of the lower classes.

Studying Egyptian methods of preserving the dead, Richards says, helps us see how the process has developed into what could now be considered museum preservations, an approach that gives rare insight into the impetus behind the present concern with preserving the past.

Wilfong, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, believes that many of the items featured in "Preserving Eternity" have been overshadowed by the impressive Greek and Roman collections at the Kelsey.

"We started looking through the Kelsey's collection in storage and found all these amazing Egyptian artifacts."

The vast array of artifacts allowed the curators to choose objects of interest to Egyptologists as well as objects that will interest individuals of all ages.

Emily Teeter, assistant curator of the Oriental Institute in Chicago, will discuss "Funerary Arts in Ancient Egypt," at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Auditorium C, Angell Hall.