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Renovating the Archaeological Collection Gilman Hall Preliminary Study May 2006 A Report by Benjamin A. Wilson – Economics, Class of 2008 Independent Study.

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Presentation on theme: "Renovating the Archaeological Collection Gilman Hall Preliminary Study May 2006 A Report by Benjamin A. Wilson – Economics, Class of 2008 Independent Study."— Presentation transcript:

1 Renovating the Archaeological Collection Gilman Hall Preliminary Study May 2006 A Report by Benjamin A. Wilson – Economics, Class of 2008 Independent Study with Eunice Dauterman Maguire Photographs by E.D. Maguire, T. Krygier, W. Shaffer, B. Wilson, and J. Van Rensselaer.

2 Contents The Purpose and History of the Collection The Future and Goals of the Collection Space Needs Construction Concerns Equipment Staffing

3 The Purpose and History of the Collection

4 The Purpose of the Collection The Johns Hopkins University Archaeological Collection was founded in the nineteenth century through the interest of the Universitys first President, Daniel Coit Gilman. His vision of learning through research still guides the University. Ever since, the collection has directly supported the teaching of courses by providing antiquities as a primary resource for study and research. Currently, at least sixteen undergraduate courses in four departments regularly use the Collection for assignments. Three new interdisciplinary programs will greatly increase the demands upon the collection: a proposed degree program in Classical Art and Archaeology; an Archaeology major; and a minor in Museum Studies. As a result of the tradition President Gilman established, the University boasts a learning collection of international distinction. Its Greco-Roman and Near Eastern collections extend from pre-dynastic Egypt into the Byzantine and Islamic periods. A recent gift of over sixty objects, with a teaching subsidy, from John Stokes, Class of 1953, has broadened the teaching of History of Art, Archaeology, and Museum Studies to include the Ancient Americas. Daniel Coit Gilman

5 History of the Collection The collection began with support from distinguished Baltimore citizens who joined President Gilman in his passion for Archaeology as a means of understanding the past. One of these citizens was Mendes Cohen who ensured that the University received the first important American collection of Egyptian antiquities, assembled by his uncle, Mendes Israel Cohen, on his travels up the Nile in Other distinguished citizens who supported the collection include William Buckler, the Goucher family, and the Garrett family. The collection currently benefits from close relations with its museum neighbors, especially the Walters Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the two JHU historic house museums, Evergreen House and Homewood House. Mendes Israel Cohen during his travels in 1832

6 The Future and Goals of the Collection

7 Future and Goals With the upcoming renovation of Gilman Hall, the Collection will have an unprecedented opportunity to become accessible to twenty-first century students for learning from objects in new ways. Adequate storage space will allow students to view a wider range of objects for study. Flexible exhibition space will permit students to create new exhibitions within a changeable matrix of displays based on the permanent collection. Integral examination, study, and classroom spaces will give students the opportunity to work with the objects in a purpose-designed environment. A model for exhibition planning space: Smithsonian, Freer/Sackler

8 Accreditation Goals The upgrading of the Collections management systems and environment in keeping with professional guidelines will enable JHU to pursue accreditation with the American Association of Museums. Accreditation will give us the following opportunities: The ability to borrow objects from accredited museums. Currently, we only have the ability to lend objects. A greater appeal to potential donors and benefactors. A more professional platform from which to apply for grants. The interdisciplinary value of having an accredited museum on campus for students in the new Museum Studies minor and projected Archaeology major. An institutional goal

9 Space Needs

10 Future and Current Spaces in Gilman Hall: Exhibition Space What we have: Limited selections from the Collection on view in Gilman 129 and the adjoining room measuring about 858 square feet. Exhibition space in Gilman 129 housing the only available area for changing exhibitions, as well as long-term exhibitions of Greco-Roman, Italic, and Ancient American objects. A smaller adjoining room to Gilman 129 containing a fraction of the very large Ancient Near Eastern collection including Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Iranian objects. No space for visitors to leave coats and bags: a space, security, and object-safety concern. Exhibition space currently serving also as work and storage space. What we need: Exhibition space that can be configured in more than one way for long-term and changing exhibitions for a variety of objects, cultures, and materials, totaling about 3,500 square feet. Lockers and cloak room space. Exhibition space immediately after the move from off-site storage in Moravia, Spring 2006

11 Future and Current Spaces in Gilman Hall: Storage, Study, Classroom, and Office Spaces What we have: Storage spaces currently in use in Gilman Hall are divided between two locations. One is an overcrowded room with unreliable climate control measuring 177 square feet. The other is a space newly provided after the move from offsite storage in Moravia, measuring 558 square feet, but without any climate control of its own. The current curatorial office measures less than 150 square feet. No photographic space. No separate space for Collection records. What we need: Storage space adjoining study, exhibition, and office spaces with appropriate climate control and security systems, totaling about 4,000 square feet. The study space and classroom should have a computer terminal, access to the Collections databases, a photographic space, and wireless internet to facilitate scholarship. A designated space that will provide easy access to Collection records. Climate-controlled storage room: view from entrance Climate-controlled storage room: work space

12 Future and Current Spaces in Gilman Hall: Climate Control and Security What we have: Partial climate-control that is not sufficiently adjustable in certain spaces and no climate- control in other spaces. Outdated electronic security system with poorly spaced motion sensors. What we need: A climate-controlled and environmentally-safe series of spaces that allow individual regulation and a variety of settings to suit the respective needs of our objects. New electronic security system with built-in zone isolation, climate-control monitoring capabilities, electronic key access, and at least some CCTV capabilities. Investment in upgraded security to enable the collection to continue without the expense of unionized guards. Interim storage: boxes in bins, attempting to provide micro-climates in air-tight, dust-proof, and accessible storage, Spring 2006

13 Construction Concerns

14 Current structural problems to be avoided: –Water leaks in walls and ceiling –Vibrations and fumes from traffic in the tunnel Lighting installation: –Must be flexible for changing exhibitions. –Must be bright enough to light individual objects with small but significant details. –Should not be fluorescent: a UV exposure concern. Water damage in storage space, March, 2006

15 Water damage in the exhibition space, February 2005

16 Windows: –Can be a security concern. –Can cause temperature and humidity fluctuation –Natural daylight can be an energy-efficient and aesthetic advantage for certain objects such as unpainted stone. –All natural light, even with UV screening, can be hazardous in the long term to pigmented objects or those made of bone and ivory. Daylight entering Gilman exhibition space through covered window

17 Equipment

18 Equipment: Exhibition Space What we need: Secure but accessible display cases. Space to more effectively use the 19 th century cases on loan from the Walters Art Museum. A combination of track and fiber-optic lighting. Spacing between cases to be wheelchair accessible. Seating for visitors. Installation aids including: reusable mounts and supports; up-to-date labeling facilities; and panels for wall text. Exhibition space used for temporary storage of working equipment Gallery visitors currently need to be shown details by flashlight

19 Equipment: Storage, Study, Classroom and Office Spaces What we need: Study and classroom: –Computer terminal –Wireless internet –Digital document camera –Digital projector –Conventional slide projector –Padded seminar table, preferably with turntable(s) –PastPerfect Museum software to be compatible with other JHU collections (MSEL Special Collections, Homewood House, and Evergreen House) –Equipment for examining objects such as scales, calipers, microscopes, and trays. Storage: –Mobile compact shelving –Steel storage cabinets with transparent doors and environmental seals to take shelving and drawers interchangeably –Extra shelves and drawers for storage cabinets Office: –Office for the curator –Office for the collections manager –Workstations for curatorial assistants –Cabinets for collection files and records Mobile compact shelving: National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resource Center, Suitland, Maryland Storage cabinets with transparent doors: Smithsonian, Freer/Sackler

20 Staffing

21 What we have: A Curator whose collection responsibilities beneficially overlap with teaching. Two paid ($8.00/hr) graduate Curatorial Assistants who work approximately 8 hours per week each during the semester. A contractual Collections Manager paid by the hour ($15.00/hr). On average 2 unpaid undergraduate interns per semester. Several undergraduate student volunteers who have not been able to help with the Collection because of our inability to supervise them during an inadequate number of staff hours, although we need the help. No designated conservation funding. What we need: To support the positions listed above we need a salaried full-time Collections and Records Manager for the more than 8,000 objects in the Collection. Support and clerical help with grant-writing. Increased hourly wages for the graduate students, especially to reward students who stay for more than one or two semesters. Funding for additional hours or graduate curatorial assistants who can supervise the increasing number of undergraduate students wanting to work with the collection. With fuller staffing we could more fairly accommodate the undergraduates interested in working in the collection either as researchers or as volunteers. Funding for urgent and continuing conservation needs.

22 Students Comments

23 …written in class, after opening their exhibition Illuminating Daily Life, featuring Roman, early Christian, and Islamic lamps recently rediscovered after years in remote storage. I learned how to conduct preliminary research on ancient objects that we have little information [about]. I loved that we got to physically work with these objects that tell a story – and moreover, it was exciting when an exact match was found in a published collection. I also found it interesting that fakes or reproductions are common – and [that] certain techniques can be used to determine whether an object is suspect, even without sophisticated technology to analyze the lamps further. Not only is information about the objects important, but also, the presentation of the objects really make(s) the objects come alive, in providing bits of evidence that support the stories of ancient life. Grace Kim, Neuroscience major Im so glad that we were actually able to create a museum in real space because it was a hands-on experience that was the most instructive part of the course. I had no idea the amount of work that goes into all steps of planning, from selecting pieces to organizing them and choosing what details are most pertinent to the labels. The process of creating the labels was not only instructive about museum practices, but also about Roman art in particular. By studying lamps, I gained invaluable knowledge [in] a subject matter I might otherwise not [have] pursued. The research process was also illuminating. I had no sense of the degree to which one can learn about an object even if it does not have a [published] match. I think I learned a lot about the value of comparison. Alyssa Haeusslein, freshman The research of objects took lots of time but I always got excited when I found the very helpful resources from references. …I used to look over the labels of [museum] objects roughly. Now, I understand that there would be numerous efforts by curators of an exhibition before the show...historical objects need very accurate and objective information for the visitor. Rachel Choe, Peabody doctoral student …I think that the most instructive part of this course, for me, was…acquiring a much fuller appreciation of the amount of work that actually goes into an exhibition like this. This caused me to fully realize the value of organization, of creating a schedule and sticking to it, of dividing tasks and consolidating information so that everyone is not constantly redoing everyone elses research. Elizabeth Blackford, Writing Seminars major and History of Art minor From the spring 2006 course, Creating a Museum Exhibition (History of Art 392, cross-listed with Clasics and Near Eastern Studies).

24 The End


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