Museums and the Ancient Middle East is the first book to focus on contemporary exhibit practice in museums that present the ancient Middle East. Bringing together the latest thinking from a diverse and international group of leading curators, the book presents the views of those working in one particular community of practice: the art, archaeology, and history of the ancient Middle East.

Drawing upon a remarkable group of case studies from many of the world’s leading museums, including the British Museum, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, this volume describes the tangible actions curators have taken to present a previously unseen side of the Middle East region and its history. Highlighting overlaps and distinctions between the practices of national, art, and university museums around the globe, the contributors to the volume are also able to offer a unique insight into the types of challenges and opportunities facing the twenty-first century curator.

Museums and the Ancient Middle East should be of interest to academics and students engaged in the study of museums and heritage, archaeology, the ancient Near East, Middle Eastern studies, and ancient history. The unique insights provided by curators active in the field ensure that the book should also be of great interest to museum practitioners around the globe.

part I|1 pages


chapter 1|10 pages

Curating the ancient Middle East 1

ByGeoff Emberling, Lucas P. Petit

chapter 2|12 pages

Museum displays and the creation of the ancient Middle East

A view from the Ashmolean and the British Museum
ByPaul Collins

chapter 3|11 pages

Ancient “art” in the white cube?

Or how contemporary art creates ancient “art”
ByPedro Azara, Marc Marín

part II|1 pages

Perspectives from national museums

chapter 4|20 pages

170 years of curatorial practices and audiences at the Louvre

Exhibiting ancient Middle Eastern antiquities from 1847 to 2017
ByAriane Thomas

chapter 5|11 pages

Gallery 55 at the British Museum

Mesopotamia 1500–539 small capsbc
ByIrving Finkel, Alexandra Fletcher

chapter 6|14 pages

Unlocking architectures—communicating cultures

Ancient Middle Eastern worlds in the Vorderasiatisches Museum 1
ByLutz Martin

chapter 7|13 pages

And now for something completely different

The renewal of the ancient Middle Eastern gallery in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities
ByLucas P. Petit

chapter 8|10 pages

The Jordan Museum

Storyteller of land and people
ByYosha Alamri, Jihad Kafafi

part III|1 pages

Perspectives from art museums

chapter 9|10 pages

Exhibiting interaction

Displaying the arts of the ancient Middle East in their broader context
ByJoan Aruz, Yelena Rakic

chapter 10|15 pages

Negotiations in museum practice

A reinstalled gallery of ancient Middle Eastern art at the Detroit Institute of Arts
BySwarupa Anila, Geoff Emberling

part IV|1 pages

Perspectives from university museums

chapter 12|22 pages

Between visuality and context

Presenting archaeological narratives at the Oriental Institute 1
ByJohn D.M. Green

chapter 13|21 pages

The Middle East Gallery at the Penn Museum

A curator’s reflections on challenges and opportunities
ByHolly Pittman

chapter 15|15 pages

Beyond display

Curriculum and community engagement with ancient Middle Eastern collections in a university museum
ByAnnelies Van de Ven, Andrew Jamieson

part V|1 pages


chapter 16|16 pages

Exhibiting ancient Middle Eastern art in America 1

ByPeter Lacovara