In a massive years-long effort, UMMAA collections managers, led by Lauren Fuka (who subsequently relocated to the University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology), moved over three million artifacts from the Ruthven Museums Building and other locations on campus to spacious, humidity-controlled storage at the Research Museums Center (the RMC), south of campus on Varsity Drive. This effort took more than three years, from the planning stages in 2015 to March 2018, when movers transported the final truckload of artifacts (rolled textiles) from Kipke to the RMC.
In 2017, Michael L. Galaty joined the Museum as director and curator of European and Mediterranean archaeology. Carla Sinopoli retired in 2018, and Alicia Ventresca Miller joined the Museum as assistant curator of Asian archaeology in 2019.
Following the artifact move, the administrative and research offices of UMMAA (all faculty, graduate students, and staff) also vacated the Ruthven Museums Building, which was targeted for renovation. In May 2018, alumni, faculty, students, staff, and friends of the Museum gathered to celebrate nine decades in the Ruthven Museums Building and to say goodbye. Watch a retrospective of the Museum's history at Ruthven here.
The UMMAA curators, students, and staff moved to temporary offices in the School of Education Building on central campus, where they remained as of 2022.
The UMMAA Press, an in-house publication unit since 1932, made significant changes as well. The press entered into a collaboration with the University of Michigan Press: the UM Press took over the sales and distribution of UMMAA books, and UMMAA stock was moved to the Chicago Distribution Center. In addition, the UM Press took on the task of scanning all of the UMMAA’s out of print books. At the end of this multi-year project, the UMMAA’s entire catalog was back in print—all titles were again available to purchase, either as print volumes or as e-books.
The COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Michigan in March 2020, and the Museum’s physical offices and collections closed their doors. Students, faculty, and staff worked remotely and attended meetings and events online for roughly one year. In early 2021, the vaccine became available, and by that summer, many people were vaccinated. In the summer and fall of 2021, people returned to classrooms, offices, and meetings, although many large events continued to be held on Zoom throughout the 2021-2022 school year.
In May 2020, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis due to police brutality sparked protests across the country. As part of the Black Lives Matter movement, students at UMMAA created a manifesto and demanded changes in the structure of the program. Among these: an action plan; a speaker series focusing on Black archaeologists and their work; a new website page called UMMAA Evolving; and changes in the mentorship program and graduate curriculum.
In 2022, the UMMAA celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. A large, international conference focused on the past, present, and future of anthropological archaeology, and UMMAA’s role in method and theory building, will take place September 29-October 2, 2022. Over thirty speakers will come to Ann Arbor to participate in seven sessions on a range of topics: intercultural interaction, violence, quantitative modeling, underwater archaeology, domestication, and social networks.
Three new curators will join the UMMAA in September 2022: Tiffany Fryer, curator of Historical and Contemporary archaeology, Bryan Miller, curator of Chinese archaeology, and Giulia Saltini Semerari, curator of Mediterranean archaeology. Some curatorial titles changed: Michael Galaty became curator of European archaeology; Rob Beck became curator of Eastern North American archaeology; and Raven Garvey became curator of High Latitude and Western North American archaeology.