In May, movers emptied the last of the cabinets in Ruthven.

From now until spring 2018, movers will carefully pack three million artifacts from the UMMAA (from both Ruthven and Kipke), load them onto trucks, and unpack them at their new home at the Research Museums Center (formerly called Varsity Drive) in south Ann Arbor. Keep track of the progress with our bimonthly updates. 

Spring brought more than green leaves and buckets of rain to the corner of Geddes and Washtenaw this year: it also brought a well-earned sense of relief. In early May, nearly one year after the move began, the last of the archaeological collections left the Ruthven Museums Building and headed to the Research Museums Center (RMC) on Varsity Drive. 

Collection manager Lauren Fuka planned, supervised, and documented the Ruthven move. She provided some context for the final day.

“It is a huge relief to reach this major milestone in the move process. Over these past 338 days, the wonderful team from Corrigan has carefully packed, wrapped, and transported approximately 63,766 boxes/trays of artifacts.”

Students and UMMAA volunteers were a critical part of the move, Lauren noted.

“Throughout the move process, an amazing team of GSRAs, undergrad temps, volunteers, and interns have counted, boxed, bagged, labelled, and databased an impressive number of items at Ruthven. More than 75,000 “lots” of cataloged artifacts were inventoried and databased, representing an estimated 1,016,000 individual artifacts.”

Perhaps most importantly, the artifacts now have a more spacious residence.

“The collections at Ruthven, which lived in 2,795 drawers found in 109 cabinets, have a little more elbow room now,” Lauren wrote. “[At RMC] they now occupy 4,147 drawers inside of 167 new cabinets.”

Although Ruthven has been emptied, the move is only about half done. The Corrigan team has shifted their focus to Kipke, where collection manager Kerri Wilhelm is overseeing the second half of the move. 

In the first few weeks, about 50,000 artifacts from three cabinets were moved, wrote Kerri. In addition, movers took 325 boxes of Latin American, Near East, and Great Lakes artifacts and 8 trays of reconstructed Near East vessels.

The second half of the move is expected to take about a year.


On May 9, 2017, Corrigan mover Josh wrapped up the last box of artifacts in Ruthven’s Great Lakes Range. Photo by Lauren Fuka.

Dr. Carla Sinopoli looks on as the two Chinese guardian lion statues outside her office in Ruthven are packed and moved. Corrigan movers estimated that each statue weighs 225 pounds.

One of the artifacts to be moved from Kipke to RMC: A Moro bronze cannon or swivel gun (about 26 inches long) from Lake Lanao, Mindinao, Philippines. Collected in 1938. Used in fighting between the Moros and the Spanish. Photo by Kerri Wilhelm.