Planning Your Visit
When is the Kelsey open?
The Kelsey is open Tuesday through Fridays, 9 AM to 4 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 4 PM. We are closed on Mondays.
Is the Kelsey open on holidays?
The Kelsey is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. It is open during regular business hours on all other holidays.
What is the cost of admission?
Admission to the Kelsey Museum, including special exhibitions, is always free.
Can I enter and exit through the State Street entrance?
No. The Kelsey Museum’s public entrance is on Maynard Street. The State Street entrance is only for Kelsey staff and U-M students.
What are the Kelsey’s guidelines for visitors?
Please follow these simple guidelines when visiting the Kelsey:
- Please do not touch the objects or lean on the cases.
- Leave all backpacks, large bags, and umbrellas in the coatroom.
- Food and drink, including gum and water, are not permitted in the galleries.
- You're welcome to take pictures, but please no flash or tripod use.
- Pets are not permitted in the galleries.
Is the museum gift shop open?
The Kelsey Museum’s gift shop is currently closed.
Does the Kelsey have a restaurant or café?
Getting to the Kelsey Museum
What is the best route to the museum by car?
Where can I park?
Can I get to the Kelsey using public transportation?
Is there bicycle parking near the museum?
Ample bicycle parking is available directly north of Newberry Hall, near the Trotter Multicultural Center.
Health and Safety
Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to visit the Kelsey?
No, you do not need to be vaccinated against COVID to visit the Kelsey, but all visitors are expected to complete the ResponsiBLUE health screening before entering. (Non-U-M affiliates can use the “Guest Screening” option.) This brief survey can be completed online before arrival or accessed by QR code at the information desk in the museum foyer.
If you or any member of your party feels unwell, please postpone your visit.
Do I need to wear a mask in the museum?
Accessibility and Navigation
How is the Kelsey working to make its collections more accessible?
The Kelsey Museum is committed to making its programs and services accessible to everyone. Please visit our Accessibility page for details.
- Our entire collection of ancient artifacts and archival photographs is available to the public through an online database.
- The Kelsey Museum is a member of Museums for All, an access program that focuses on removing the barriers to visiting museums and cultural centers.
- We offer large-print guides for our special exhibitions. Please ask the desk attendant if you would like to use one.
- Sensory Friendly Kits can be borrowed for use by individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. In addition, a Social Story can help families prepare for a visit to the museum.
- Coming soon: Spanish-language gallery guides.
Is the Kelsey Museum wheelchair accessible?
All public areas of the Kelsey are wheelchair accessible. The Maynard Street entrance has ramp access and power-assist doors. Curbside drop-offs are possible at the Maynard entrance. An elevator provides access to the second-floor galleries and the gift shop. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are located on the first and second floors of the museum. Go to our Accessibility page for information about accessible parking.
Do you provide wheelchairs?
The Kelsey does not provide mobility devices but we welcome your personal walkers and wheelchairs.
Can I bring my service animal to the museum?
The Kelsey Museum follows the guidelines set forth by the University of Michigan's Office for Institutional Equity, which state, "service animals may be used by individuals with disabilities in order to participate in or gain access to programs, benefits, or services at the University." Please refer to the OIE's full statement for information about what kinds of animals are allowed and the conditions under which a service animal might be restricted or removed from a public space.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Education Department to discuss any accommodations we can make for you or members of your group. Email email@example.com or call (734) 647-4167.
Tours and Events
How do I schedule a group tour of the Kelsey galleries?
Our Education Department will be happy to help you arrange a tour for your group. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 647-4167 at least two weeks in advance of your desired tour date. Refer to the specific pages below for more information about the type of tour you would like to schedule.
- If you are bringing university or college students (minimum 5 tour participants), refer to the University and College page.
- If you are bringing a K-12 field trip (minimum 10 tour participants), refer to the K-12 Educators and Schools page.
- If you are bringing any other group (minimum 10 tour participants), refer to the Group Tours page.
How can I see the Tiffany window?
What is not allowed in the galleries?
- Touching artifacts, cases, or displays. Oils, salts, soaps, and acids on your hands damage ancient art and artifacts. Cases or pedestals may tip over, injuring you or others and damaging artifacts.
- Backpacks and large bags. Large items in the galleries can jeopardize artifacts and exhibition furniture. Please take advantage of our coatroom for any large objects you have brought with you.
- Umbrellas. It is easy to bump an artifact or case with a large umbrella. Umbrellas of any size can also bring water into the gallery, which can cause a slipping hazard. Please leave all umbrellas in the coatroom.
- Food and drink. Food and drink of any kind, including gum and water, are not allowed in the galleries. A water fountain is located on the second floor near the bathrooms.
- Pens and markers. Please use only pencils in the galleries. The ink from a pen or marker can cause permanent damage to artifacts—even an "erasable" pen can cause damage that can't be repaired. Although we like to think that no one would intentionally mark an artifact with a pen, it's easy to do it accidentally. We encourage you to sketch the objects in the museum but ask that you follow some simple guidelines.
- Tripods and flash photography. Tripods, flash attachments, video cameras, and selfie sticks are not allowed in the galleries. Bright light (like a camera flash) can cause invisible damage to ancient objects that can lead to discoloration, decay, and disintegration. Our windows are specially treated to block out harmful rays from the sun.
We reserve the right to ask groups or individuals who do not follow these guidelines to leave the museum.
Exhibitions and Collections
Are the artifacts in the Kelsey Museum real?
Unless a label says otherwise, all the objects in the Kelsey Museum are "real": authentic ancient artifacts with an average age of 2,000 years. With a few, clearly marked exceptions, we don't put copies on display, and we don't (knowingly) display fakes. If you are interested in fakes, there is an open-storage drawer installation in the Egyptian gallery and an online exhibition The Art of the Fake: Egyptian Forgeries from the Kelsey Museum, where they are compared to genuine artifacts, for educational purposes.
How did the Kelsey acquire the artifacts in its collection?
Excavations in Egypt and the Middle East in the 1920s and 1930s account for most of the Kelsey's holdings. Slightly more than 35 percent come from purchases, bequests, and gifts. Read about the Kelsey Museum’s collections history here.
How many objects are not on display and where are they stored?
The Kelsey today houses more than 100,000 artifacts, ranging from prehistoric to medieval times. About 1,500 objects are on display in the Upjohn Exhibit Wing or appear in special exhibitions; the rest are maintained in climate-controlled storage in the basement of the Upjohn Building. Read more about our collections here.
Where are the mummies?
The Kelsey Museum has two human mummies and several animal mummies in its collection. Some are on display in the Egyptian galleries; the others remain in storage. The mummies are very fragile and must be climate controlled for their preservation since Michigan's weather is very different from the dry climate of Egypt that originally preserved them. The ancient Egyptians themselves went to a great deal of trouble to keep the bodies of their dead hidden and private, and this helped preserve the mummies.
The two human mummies in the Kelsey Museum are both of children about two or three years old (we thank James E. Harris, retired Michigan professor who x-rayed these mummies, for providing this information). Both appear to be from the Roman period. One of the child mummies is plain and undecorated, while the other has a plaster mask with gilt and painted decoration. The decorated mummy is heavily damaged. The plain mummy underwent a CT-scan investigation and is on display in the Upjohn Exhibit Wing; the damaged mummy is too fragile for display and is kept in our climate-controlled storage (It is illustrated in our book Life, Death, and Afterlife in Ancient Egypt).
The Kelsey Museum collection includes mummies of a cat and three birds (probably falcons), as well as the decorated head from a cat mummy. Animal mummies of this sort were left as offerings to a god associated with the animal: a person would pay the priests to kill the animal and have it wrapped as a mummy and put into a special chamber in the god's temple. The cat was associated with the goddess Bast, the dog with Anubis, and the falcon with Horus. The Kelsey also has what appears to be the mummy of a baboon, but x-rays have shown that it contains human arm bones, wrapped to look like a baboon. Apparently, this is an ancient fake, designed to convince someone that they were paying for a baboon mummy. We also have another ancient fake, a mummy in the shape of a dog, made for the cult of one of the Egyptian jackal gods, that contains human child bones (this mummy was featured in the exhibition Death Dogs: The Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt. The cat mummy, the cat head, and one of the mummified falcons are on display in the Upjohn Exhibit Wing.
Why do most of the statues have broken noses?
The statues in the Kelsey Museum are ancient—between 1,500 and 5,000 years old—and a lot of things can happen over such a long period. Although made of stone, the noses (and arms and legs) of statues stick out and are especially vulnerable to damage. Imagine falling over but not being able to stop your fall, and you'll get an idea of how this could happen! Statue noses are also easy to damage intentionally, and many ancient statues have lost their noses through ancient (or modern) vandalism.
Was this building once a house?
No, the Kelsey Museum building was never a house. Newberry Hall was completed in 1891 for the Students' Christian Association, which used it as a meeting place until 1927. In 1937 it became home to U-M’s museum of classical archaeology, which was later named after the museum’s founder, Francis W. Kelsey. The Upjohn Exhibit Wing, adjoining the rear of the original building, was built in 2009 and houses the museum’s galleries. Newberry Hall is now used for museum administrative offices, classroom space, lectures, and special events.
To learn more, visit the History page on the Kelsey website.
Where are the Epistles of Saint Paul?
The famous "Epistles of St. Paul" manuscript is an early copy of part of the New Testament on papyrus, dating to around 200 CE. Although parts of this manuscript have been on display in the Kelsey Museum in the past for temporary exhibitions, the manuscript is permanently housed in the University of Michigan Library Papyrology Collection—the largest collection of ancient documents on papyrus in North America. The Papyrology Collection at the University Library is closed to the public, but the papyri can be seen by appointment: visit the Papyrology Collection website for more information and check out their app at https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/epistles/.
What do I do if I have a question about an artifact in the Kelsey collection?
Can I use an image of one of your artifacts for my publication?
Yes, we encourage the use of our images for your publications and teaching. For publications, we ask you to fill out the Application for Reproduction Permission form to request proper permission. For teaching purposes, you may use our images freely. All we ask for is acknowledgment.
Can I get an object appraised?
Membership and Giving
How can I make a donation to the Kelsey?
What are the benefits of membership?
- 20% discount at the Kelsey gift shop
- Invitations to exhibition openings, special events, and lectures
- Announcements of archaeological tours of Europe and the Mediterranean
- The Kelsey Museum Newsletter (bi-annual publication)
- The Kelsey Museum Annual Report
- Gifts of $100 or more include a NARM and ROAM membership. (NARM and ROAM provide reciprocal museum memberships at institutions throughout North America. A complete list of participating museums can be found here.)
How do I become a member?
Membership to the Kelsey Museum is open to all and includes many benefits. There are several ways you can become a member:
- Join online by visiting myumi.ch/givetokelsey and choose “Members Gifts – 303888.”
- Join during a visit. Tell the desk attendant you would like to become a member and they will give you a membership form to fill out and mail in later with your check.
- Call U-M Gift and Records Administration at (888) 518-7888 and tell them you would like to become a member of the Kelsey Museum. You may need to provide a shortcode for this transaction, which is 303888.
How do I renew or upgrade my membership?
What should I do if I lose my membership card?
Is it possible to become a member while visiting the Kelsey?
Yes! Let a desk attendant know you would like to become a member and they will give you a membership form to fill out and mail in with your check.
What does my membership gift support?
- The Kelsey Museum Newsletter
- Lectures, behind-the-scenes tours, special events, and programming associated with special exhibitions
- The Kelsey Museum annual Holiday Open House
Can I claim my membership gift as a tax-deductible charitable donation?
Yes. The Kelsey Museum is part of the University of Michigan, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The gift acknowledgment from the University of Michigan is your receipt for tax purposes.
I made a donation online but the emailed thank-you from the university doesn't say that my gift will be used for a Kelsey Membership. How do I make sure I will get a membership?
If you made a gift to Kelsey Museum Membership Gifts (fund 303888), you will automatically receive a museum membership. You should get your membership card via US mail within two weeks of your gift transaction. If your card does not arrive, please contact Lorene Sterner at email@example.com.