Upcoming Exhibitions


Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: 
The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii
February 19–May 15, 2016


Organized in cooperation with the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii and the Oplontis Project at the University of Texas, this international traveling exhibition explores the lavish lifestyle and economic interests of some of ancient Rome’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens, who vacationed along the Bay of Naples. Julius Caesar, Cicero, Augustus, and Nero all owned villas in this region. With more than 200 objects on loan from Italy, the exhibition focuses on two structures at Oplontis that were buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. One is an enormous luxury villa that may once have belonged to the family of Nero’s second wife Poppaea. The other is a nearby commercial-residential complex—a center for the trade in wine and other produce of villa lands. Together these two establishments speak eloquently of the ways in which the Roman elite built, maintained, and displayed their vast wealth, political power, and social prestige. In presenting a selection of impressive works of art along with ordinary utilitarian objects, the exhibition also calls attention to Roman disparities of wealth, social class, and consumption. Such disparities were as problematic for Roman society as they are for ours today.

The exhibition in Ann Arbor will remain open to the public until May 15, 2016. It will also be shown at the Museum of the Rockies at the Montana Sate University, Bozeman (June 17-December 31, 2016) and the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts (February 3-August 13, 2017).


Less Than Perfect
August 26–November 27, 2016

This exhibition, guest curated by Professor Carla Sinopoli, seeks the stories embedded in imperfect objects. “Imperfect” refers both to objects that were considered failures by their makers, such as ceramic wasters, and to objects that were produced with deliberate imperfections for spiritual or other reasons. The show will feature Asian ceramics and Navajo textiles from the U-M Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, Japanese tea vessels from the U-M Museum of Art, as well as objects from the Kelsey Museum collections.


Art and Science of Healing 
From Antiquity to the Renaissance
January 6–April 30, 2017

Ancient methods for healing the body, mind, and spirit ranged from the miraculous, the talismanic, and the religious to the sophisticated knowledge of Greek medicine. In the Renaissance, however, a strict new empiricism began to draw a clear line between science and superstition. This exhibition documents this crucial transition using the rich primary source materials—amulets, gems, surgical instruments, as well as ancient and medieval texts—available in the U-M Special Collections Library, Papyrology Collection, and Kelsey Museum. Guest curator: Pablo Alvearez, Special Collections Curator