The Kelsey has a long and proud tradition of sponsoring archaeological fieldwork in the Mediterranean and Near East. This tradition dates back to Francis Kelsey himself, who in the early twentieth century embarked on a series of excavations, most famously initiating work at Karanis, a Roman-period town in the Egyptian Fayoum. Many objects excavated at Karanis are now in the holdings of the Museum. Other early projects (such as at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, 1928-1937) similarly resulted in substantial additions to the Museum's collections—a practice that no longer holds true today owing to changes in accepted archaeological ethics.

Since those early days, Kelsey staff and students have taken part in expeditions in countries as far afield as Italy, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia, Croatia, Armenia, and Greece, with Kelsey-sponsored projects currently under way in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Italy. Some of these current projects are documented in reports "from the field."

Purchase In the Field: The Archaeological Expeditions of the Kelsey Museum, a book that describes each of the projects undertaken before 2006 and offers many black-and-white and color illustrations.