Elaine K. Gazda, longtime Kelsey curator, professor in History of Art, and director of the Kelsey Museum from 1986 to 1997, retired from the University of Michigan on May 31 after 46 years of scholarship and service.
Elaine came to Ann Arbor in 1974, when she was hired as assistant professor in History of Art and assistant curator at the Kelsey Museum — joint appointments through which she was promoted over the years. Elaine has curated an impressive 29 exhibitions at the Kelsey in her time here, many with her students and most involving published catalogues. She was also the head curator for the entire installation of the Kelsey’s new Upjohn Exhibit Wing. Elaine’s exhibitions have covered a wide range of topics, but all have been characterized by a combination of serious scholarship and visual flair and elegance.
Elaine is the author of our three bestselling books — Karanis: An Egyptian Town in Roman Times, The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse, and Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii — and has also been an extraordinary fundraiser and advocate for the museum. And of course, she has had a distinguished career as a teacher and mentor. Many of her former students, now leaders in their fields, celebrated Elaine’s career in a recent Archaeological Institute of America panel and a publication of studies in her honor.
Elaine is now curator emerita at the Kelsey and has embarked on an ambitious program of research that will keep her coming to the museum for many years. When we can safely meet again, we will celebrate her retirement and career properly, and you are all invited!