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Special Exhibitions

The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance

Woodcut from a book by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564), De humani corporis fabrica libri septem

February 10–April 30, 2017

This exhibition, hosted by the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the University of Michigan Library, explores the early history of Western medicine as illustrated by a broad selection of archaeological artifacts, papyri, medieval manuscripts, and early printed books. Among the earliest objects on display is a second century AD papyrus with a text from the Greek botanist Dioscorides’ On Materia Medica. The latest exhibit is the first edition of William Harvey’s Anatomical Treatise on the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals (1628). The display explores various themes such as the role of religion and magic in healing the soul and body, the influence of Graeco-Roman methods of diagnosis and treatment in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the multilingual transmission of medical knowledge in both manuscript and printed form. From Hippocrates to Harvey, we invite you to embark on an exciting journey where advances in “rational” medicine are often intermingled with religious belief and superstition.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a symposium that will explore the textuality and materiality of medicine
before the modern period. The symposium will be on March 9-10, 2017 at the University of Michigan.

Guest curatorPablo Alvarez

Women of Etruria

Through March 2017

Carnelian scarab with a scene from Greek myth, the Suicide of Ajax. One of a set of five, each with a different image. Fourth to third century BC. Kelsey Museum 93459

A new display at the Kelsey highlights the lives of Etruscan women. Etruscan women had a distinct status in the ancient Mediterranean world. The richly furnished tombs of upper class Etruscans indicate that women and men were treated as equals, in contrast to their Greek and Roman contemporaries.  Etruscan women also enjoyed liberties that were denied women elsewhere.  Paintings in Etruscan tombs frequently feature well-dressed women eating, drinking, and dancing in the company of men. Through marriage alliances women secured their family’s wealth and power, and by bearing children they guaranteed the continuity of their clan. Women also took part in religious cults both as priestesses and worshippers. They especially patronized cults of goddesses of fertility, love, death, and rebirth. The objects on display relate to three aspects of an Etruscan woman’s daily life: personal adornment, banqueting, and religious practices.

This exhibit was prepared by students in Professor Elaine Gazda’s class on Etruscan Art and Archaeology (Fall 2016) who selected the theme, did research on the objects, and participated in designing components of the display: Leah Bernardo-Ciddio (skyphos), Sheira Cohen (bucchero kantharos), Alexandra Creola (scarabs and installation design), Zoe Jenkins (installation design and text panel), Ariel Regner (miniatures), Ellen Seidell (fibula  and text panel design), and Emily Lime (kylix).