With the return of Martin Biddle to England at the end of June, The University Museum has passed into a period of transition pending the appointment of a new Director. As in most such institutional changes, the challenge is to maintain the forward motion of the organization insofar as possible. With the help of the staff, the new Board of Overseers, and the Women’s Committee, the Museum is well on the way to coping with the coming year.
To expedite our planning, departments have been grouped into four divisions: Administration and Budget (chaired by Lavon Bair), Research and Publication (William Coe), Museological Services (Gregory Possehl), and Public Programming (Elin Danien). As Acting Director I will meet with each group once a month during the year to review and discuss their operational and planning needs.
The major efforts relating to the collections initiated by Martin Biddle and Liz King (who has returned to her home in the Southwest) are being maintained with the help of our volunteers, two new assistants in the Registrar’s Office, and a new computer person. The cataloguing of the African collection is again moving ahead with a new grant from The Greenfield Foundation.
Similarly, the Publication program is proceeding on schedule with two monographs expected late this year and several others under preparation. A new catalogue for the Samurai Exhibition was printed in September and will be available during the exhibition’s extended schedule into January 1982. I have appointed a new Publications Committee to be chaired by Bill Coe. As Acting Associate Director of the Museum for the year, Bill will be an invaluable help in keeping things moving with his wide knowledge of, and long association with, the Museum.
Greg Possehl, in his role as Assistant to the Director for Museology, is already hard at work planning exhibition materials to get us through the year and working with the staff to improve the Museum’s appearance where possible. The main entrance hall and flanking galleries have been repainted and the Peruvian cases re-installed with new backing, labels, and photographs. The Polynesian gallery is well under way with the help of Bill Davenport. The cases in the Ur gallery are being repaired and some revision of the African gallery is being contemplated—the latter two occasioned by our security needs.
During the past year, four objects have been stolen from exhibition. The last of these disappeared in August and necessitated the closing of the Museum temporarily while we reviewed object security, building security, security procedures, and personnel. As a result a number of immediate improvements were made and a systematic security survey was undertaken by the University’s consultant, Ralph Ward. His report on the appropriate long-range actions needed will be in hand by the time this appears in print. In the meantime I have appointed a new Security Committee, headed by Lavon Bair, to meet once a month and monitor our procedures.
Our curator-professors and their students have, as usual, been to the far parts of the world over the summer carrying out their research in anthropology and archaeology. From Greece and Turkey to Pakistan,
Thailand and Guatemala, The University Museum has maintained its presence as the world-wide institution it has always been, As the year progresses the results of some of this research will be presented, as usual, at Members’ Nights.
To maintain our Museum with its major collections and research programs we must work to restore the building and to modernize the working and storage areas. This is an expensive proposition and will need a major fund-raising effort. No aspect of our interim work is more important than planning for this effort, and we are working with the University administration and our Board to initiate this planning process in anticipation of a later campaign. Bob Trescher, Chairman of the Board, and Susan Catherwood, Chairman of the Women’s Committee, are playing a central role in getting this planning under way. The staff members are all prepared to work hard on the program, with the friends of the Museum, to make this campaign a success when the time comes. Until that happens, we are actively engaged in our regular scholarly work and our teaching of both University and non-University students.
Robert H. Dyson, Jr. Acting Director
DR. PIOTR MICHALOWSKI
Dr. Piotr Michalowski, who has been working on the Sumerian Dictionary Project under Dr. Sjoberg in the Near Eastern Section of the University Museum, has been appointed George G. Cameron Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Associate Professor of Assyriology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The University Museum has received a grant from the Tinker Foundation of an additional $15,000 for the Maya Art Program for the year July 1, 1981 to June 30, 1982, specifically to cover the administrative expenses connected with the mounting of a major Tikal Art Travelling Exhibition. The work is being done by Dr. Arthur Miller of the American Section of the Museum.