In Month 2, movers transported thousands of ethnobotanical, ceramic, and stone artifacts from Ruthven to Varsity Drive. Photo by Lauren Fuka.

Over the next 20 months, 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 on Varsity Drive in south Ann Arbor. Keep track of the progress with our monthly updates, and read more here

It’s July, and despite exceedingly hot, humid days, the movers are on schedule. Two movers are working full time to pack artifacts at Ruthven. In June, they moved about 13,000 ethnobotanical samples (22 cabinets worth) in about two and a half weeks. The samples (seeds, leaves, wood, fiber, flowers, roots, and charcoal) were collected in the past 90 years from archaeological sites in 42 countries. Latin American artifacts were next (seven cabinets): mostly ceramic vessels and boxes of sherds, mainly from Mexico, Peru, and Panama. In mid-July, it was time for Near Eastern artifacts—three cabinets full, plus eight reconstructed ceramic vessels. See collection manager Lauren Fuka’s photo essay (below) for a look at how to move a large, fragile, extremely old pot.


Here, two reconstructed ceramic jars begin their journey to a new home by making the trip down from the top of the cabinet on a hydraulic lift table. The pot on the left (let's call him 60786) is a ceramic storage jar, excavated by Henry Wright in 1968 at the site of Tepe Farukabad in Southwestern Iran. The pot dates from the Middle Uruk Period, 3350-3800 B.C.E. Photo by Lauren Fuka.

60786 getting ready to be wrapped. Photo by Lauren Fuka.

60786 arrives at Varsity Drive! Photo by Lauren Fuka.

60786 hanging out with his friends. Photo by Lauren Fuka.

At Kipke, students and staff have built more than 1,500 custom object mounts to support delicate artifacts for the trip to Varsity Drive. Some custom mounts can take most of a day to build. See collection manager Kerri Wilhelm’s photo (below) of the custom mount for two model canoes. They’ve also pre-packed more than 2,200 objects and inventoried 194 cabinets. The diversity of artifacts is astonishing, notes Kerri: objects can be a few centimeters long or more than eight feet, and can weigh from a few grams up to nearly 100 pounds.

Custom mount for two model canoes. Right: Model of a canoe used by the Lord North Islanders. Palm matting sail. From Lord North Island in Micronesia. Donated by Prof. William H. Hobbs in 1922. Left: Model of double outrigger canoe. From Sri Lanka. This object is designated as "found in collections." Photo by Kerri Wilhelm.