Museums and the Ancient Middle East is the first book to focus on contemporary exhibit practice in museums that present the ancient Middle East. Bringing together the latest thinking from a diverse and international group of leading curators, the book presents the views of those working in one particular community of practice: the art, archaeology, and history of the ancient Middle East.
Drawing upon a remarkable group of case studies from many of the world’s leading museums, including the British Museum, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, this volume describes the tangible actions curators have taken to present a previously unseen side of the Middle East region and its history. Highlighting overlaps and distinctions between the practices of national, art, and university museums around the globe, the contributors to the volume are also able to offer a unique insight into the types of challenges and opportunities facing the twenty-first century curator.
Museums and the Ancient Middle East should be of interest to academics and students engaged in the study of museums and heritage, archaeology, the ancient Near East, Middle Eastern studies, and ancient history. The unique insights provided by curators active in the field ensure that the book should also be of great interest to museum practitioners around the globe.
Table of Contents
Part One: Introductory
Chapter 1 Curating the Ancient Middle East
Geoff Emberling and Lucas Petit
Chapter 2 Museum Displays and the Creation of the Ancient Middle East: A View from the Ashmolean and the British Museum
Chapter 3 Ancient "Art" in the White Cube? Or How Contemporary Art Creates Ancient "Art"
Pedro Azara and Marc Marín
Part Two: Perspectives from National Museums
Chapter 4 170 Years of Curatorial Practices and Audiences at the Louvre: Exhibiting Ancient Middle Eastern Antiquities from 1847 to 2017
Chapter 5 Gallery 55 at the British Museum: Mesopotamia 1500-539 BC
Irving Finkel and Alexandra Fletcher
Chapter 6 Unlocking Architectures—Communicating Cultures: Ancient Middle Eastern Worlds in the Vorderasiatisches Museum
Chapter 7 And Now for Something Completely Different: The Renewal of the Ancient Middle Eastern Gallery in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities
Lucas P. Petit
Chapter 8 The Jordan Museum: Storyteller of Land and People
Yosha Alamri and Jihad Kafafi
Part Three: Perspectives from Art Museums
Chapter 9 Exhibiting Interaction: Displaying the Arts of the Ancient Middle East in their Broader Context
Joan Aruz and Yelena Rakic
Chapter 10 Negotiations in Museum Practice: A Reinstalled Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Swarupa Anila and Geoff Emberling
Chapter 11 An Archaeological Exhibition without Archaeology? Joan Miró Looks at Mesopotamian Masterpieces
Pedro Azara and Marc Marín
Part Four: Perspectives from University Museums
Chapter 12 Between visuality and context: Presenting Archaeological Narratives at the Oriental Institute
John D.M. Green
Chapter 13 The Middle East Gallery at the Penn Museum: A Curator’s Reflections on Challenges and Opportunities
Chapter 14 The Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut and Its Educational Role: A Case Study
Chapter 15 Beyond Display: Curriculum and Community Engagement with Ancient Middle Eastern Collections in a University Museum
Andrew Jamieson and Annelies Van de Ven
Chapter 16 Exhibiting Ancient Middle Eastern Art in America
Geoff Emberling is Associate Research Scientist at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan. He has done curatorial work for most of his career, first as Assistant Curator in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, then as Museum Director and Chief Curator at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. He has also developed exhibits as consulting curator at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, and most recently at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is also a field archaeologist who has directed projects in Syria and Sudan.
Lucas P. Petit is curator of the Near Eastern Department at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. He curated several successful blockbuster exhibitions including "Petra. Wonder in the Desert" (2013-14) and "Nineveh. Heart of an Ancient Empire" (2017-18), and was responsible for renewing the permanent Middle Eastern galleries. He has had positions at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, and at Leiden University. He has been involved in various archaeological fieldwork projects throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Currently, he co-directs the excavations at Tell Damiyah in Jordan.
"Museums and the Ancient Middle East: Curatorial Practice and Audiences provides a refreshing perspective by leading scholars and museum professionals on matters regarding curatorial and exhibition practices, collection research, and public education that is much needed and long overdue within the discipline of ancient Near Eastern studies. The editors and contributors should be commended for the thoughtful analysis of their personal and institutional curatorial practices. This level of reflection and inquiry about best standards and practices within the disciplines of museum studies and Near Eastern studies is important and vital to the continued successful engagement between museums and the public. This volume lays the groundwork for future discussions regarding museum ethics, collection practices, collaborative research, and cultural advocacy concerning material culture from the ancient Middle East, and it will likely inspire subsequent dialog and publications." - LISSETTE M. JIMENEZ, JOURNAL OF EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND HERITAGE STUDIES