This issue of Expedition is devoted entirely to the involvement of the University Museum in Egyptology, from the 1890’s to the present, and thus provides information directly connected with the special exhibition The Search for Ancient Egypt: University Museum Excavations 1890-1979, partly funded by a N.E.H. grant of $41,000, and co-directed by Drs. David O’Connor and David Silverman of the Egyptian Section.
This exhibition is unusual in that the University Museum’s Egyptological collections were almost all acquired directly from excavation, rather than from purchases via the saleroom. Despite the high prices that Egyptian material commands in the salerooms, the cost of conducting properly controlled scientific excavation and research is even higher. The Eckley B. Coxe, Jr. Fund was the single source of funding for the Egyptian Section of the University Museum, and its excavations, until the 1950’s. Since then, alas, progressively rising inflation has eroded the value of the Fund, and the Museum’s Egyptian Section has now entered a crucial phase. The Section’s staff has raised over $1,000,000 in United States and Canadian Government grants since the 1960’s to fund excavation (for which the Coxe Fund has long been insufficient), but now even the essential permanent core of professional Egyptologists can no longer be fully maintained by the Fund. The Section’s permanent endowment must be very substantially increased if the Museum is to remain a leader in Egyptological excavation, research and teaching, and if the heavy publication and museological responsibilities incurred during nearly a century of fieldwork are to be met.
Dr. David O’Connor and the Director of the Museum earnestly request the support and advice of the Museum’s many interested friends. It would be ironic if the present innovative presentation should prove to be the last major exhibition of scientifically excavated ancient Egyptian material that our University Museum can manage to display.
Bernard Wailes, Editor