Life in Miniature
Identity and Display at Ancient Seleucia-on-the-Tigris
Opens December 20, 2013
Miniature objects have always had a special power to enchant—whether they be tiny models of creatures or replicas of larger entities like buildings. But why have so many people throughout history created these objects, and what do they mean? How do the miniatures made by a particular society reflect the identities and values of its populace? The current special exhibition investigates these questions using miniature objects from the ancient Seleucid capital, located just 18 miles south of Baghdad in present-day Iraq. The blend of cultures at Seleucia fostered the hybrid styles and manufacturing techniques of the miniature objects in this installation. Because their small scale encourages close interaction with people, such objects represent an especially intimate expression of this complex social world.
Visitors to the exhibition may experience the delight of interacting with these miniatures through a series of nine digital animations, accessible on iPads in the gallery. In these animations, digital reconstructions of several exhibited objects will move in the same way(s) that they did for their original owners approximately 2,000 years ago. A display of modern-day miniatures, such as dolls and collectibles, bridges the gap between past and present. A photographic collage juxtaposes images of people holding their own contemporary miniatures (things like Christmas ornaments, refrigerator magnets, wedding-cake toppers) with photos of Kelsey staffers holding the ancient artifacts.
At U-M Museum of Art
Fragments from the Past:
Islamic Art from the Collection of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
November 30, 2013–April 2014
The U-M Museum of Art and the Kelsey Museum present this exhibition at the Museum of Art as part of the UM Collections Collaborations series, designed to showcase the renowned and diverse collections at the University of Michigan. The Kelsey's collection of Islamic art ranges from the eighth to the nineteenth century and reflects the brilliant diversity of the cultural traditions of Islam. The exhibition at UMMA will feature vessels, architectural fragments, furniture, and other artifacts from Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran that reveal the aesthetic attention paid by artisans to the objects of everyday life. These objects demonstrate the interplay of function and form in artisanal traditions, and the designs and patterns revealed on the exquisitely detailed fragments presented are a testament to the many stories that run through the pasts of these peoples and cultures. The UM Collections Collaborations series is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.