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Permanent Exhibition

As of Tuesday, May 17, our second floor is closed as we work toward updating our Roman Empire gallery space. We expect to be able to welcome visitors to the refreshed galleries in early September. Our first-floor exhibitions will remain open during the closure. We thank you for your patience as we move forward with these important gallery improvements.

The Kelsey's permanent exhibition in the William E. Upjohn Exhibit Wing features highlights from our collections, including objects from Karanis and Seleucia, a colorfully painted Egyptian mummy coffin, magical amulets from the ancient Middle East, Greek pottery, Greek and Roman sculptures, an important collection of Roman glass vessels, and a unique large-scale watercolor reproduction of the famous murals from the Villa of the Mysteries at ancient Pompeii.

Villa of the Mysteries Murals

In 1924, Francis W. Kelsey commissioned an Italian artist, Maria Barosso, to reproduce the wall murals of the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. Barosso chose watercolor as her medium; the entire project was finished in just over 18 months. In 2008, the Kelsey Museum undertook an exciting conservation project to preserve these beautiful watercolors; they are now on display as part of the Kelsey's permanent exhibition.

The video linked below chronicles the story of the discovery of the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, Francis Kelsey's determination to document the murals within it, and the long journey the watercolor replicas undertook  from creation to conservation and installation in the galleries of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.