Adopt an Object

Are you interested in funding the research, conservation, and exhibition of a particular museum object? Our “Adopt an Object” program offers you the opportunity to work with us to select an object in need of care within the collection and keeps you involved in the process of researching, examining, conserving and finally exhibiting it in the museum.  Selected objects from the ancient Greco-Roman world, Egypt, the Near East and the Ancient Americas are all in need of your attention.  Please contact us directly for more information on objects for “adoption.”

High school students from Notre Dame Preparatory School hear from Dr. Betsy Bryan about the Egyptian “magic wand” they have adopted as a class. Their teacher (and Hopkins graduate) Christine Plumer stands at far right.

Recently, a group of wonderful high school students from Christine Plumer’s Advanced Placement Art History class at Notre Dame Preparatory School contacted us about adopting an object.  The students are pursuing innovative fundraising projects to contribute towards the conservation and exhibition of an extraordinary Egyptian “magic wand” (c. 1750 BCE) in our collection.

This object would have been used by nurses attending the birth of a child to draw a protective circle around the mother and her birthing bed.  The hippopotamus ivory is carved with images of many protective figures–including the god Bes, and images of hippopotamus and crocodile deities holding knives in their hands–and is inscribed with texts including one which asks the sun to look down in protection.  The worn tip of the wand suggests that it was actually used.  On the back of the wand is an inscription telling us about who owned this object, though some of this information is no longer legible due to the damaged condition of the object.  It reads:  ”The child Mery born to the lady of the house [missing name].”

An Egyptian “magic wand”, (JHUAM 2121D), c. 1750 BCE.

Unfortunately, the ivory has been extensively damaged and restored in the past, possibly soon after it was excavated over a century ago, and is currently in numerous fragments.  The conservation treatment for this object aims to stabilize the various sections and develop a way to display the object for our visitors in one of the museum’s study drawers.  Please look for updates on this work as it progresses through our Facebook page and this website.

We thank the dedicated and enterprising Notre Dame students and their teacher (and Hopkins graduate) Christine Plumer for engaging with the ancient world–and the museum–in such an altruistic and exciting way!