Fragments of an Institution

In its permanent galleries, the OI museum displays 5,000 items from the regions of ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, and the Levant. What you see in this gallery is a tiny fraction of the OI’s total collection which numbers around 350,000 objects, mainly excavated by OI archaeologists. The items below represent the galleries, but would normally be in storage and not on display.

Similar to these objects, the archival history of the OI represented in this exhibit is fragmentary. If it were not on display in this exhibit, it would be safely stored behind the closed doors of the archive. Access to these materials here provides an introduction to the pieces of history found in the archives. As a living institution, the OI is not simply a collection point for information and objects, but a place where discoveries—old and new—are made every day.

The OI provides access not only to a world-renowned collection of objects and information, but also provides a glimpse at how people forged identities—collective and individual—while confronting their own issues of autonomy, diversity, and unity. As the OI celebrates its centennial during the 2019-20 academic year, its commitment to interdisciplinary research will evolve in bold new ways. And its tradition of discovery, understanding, and the interpretation of what binds us all together will continue to advance into a new century.