The Collection

An overall view of Greek, Roman and south Italian objects on view on the south side of the museum.

The new installation highlights nearly 700 archaeological objects from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Near East, and the ancient Americas, all exhibited in the custom-built museum facility set within the spectacular Gilman atrium. We are also fortunate to be able to display numerous artifacts on loan, including Egyptian art from the Eton College Myers Collection, a selection of Greek ceramics from the Baltimore Museum of Art and an ancient Egyptian mummy from Goucher College. The museum features three walls of glass cases which face outward into the atrium space; the external case displays can be seen and studied by faculty, students, and staff at any time that Gilman Hall is open. The interior space of the Museum showcases objects from the collection in several themed groupings.  A selection of our most published and studied Latin inscriptions is also on view.  The new museum space also includes numerous study/display drawers which will hold objects such as cuneiform tablets and texts, Egyptian shabtis, ancient and Islamic glass, Hellenistic lamps and Roman stamped bricks; the objects in these drawers will change on a regular basis, as needed for teaching and study by the University’s faculty and students.

How the Collection Was Formed

A view of the south and east facing cases of the museum.

Over the past 132 years, significant collections of objects have been purchased by Johns Hopkins University, or gifted to the archaeological collection for use in study, teaching and research.  In 1884, important Egyptian objects originally collected by collector and prominent Baltimorean Colonel Mendes Israel Cohen came to the university.   Also in 1884, Arthur L. Frothingham, Jr., a Fellow in Greek at the University, donated the first classical objects to the collection. This was the same year that Frothingham and his colleague Alfred Emerson, also a Fellow in Greek, established the Baltimore Society of the Archaeological Institute of America; they would go on to collect numerous ancient objects under the aegis of the Baltimore Society which were then held and displayed at Johns Hopkins. Harry Langford Wilson, professor of Roman archaeology and epigraphy collected artifacts and acquired more than one thousand Etruscan and Roman artifacts for the collection between 1906 and 1909. Between 1905 and 1918, a large number of Egyptian artifacts came to Johns Hopkins through the work of James Teackle Dennis, a Baltimore native who worked with the Egyptian Exploration Fund. Other collections of Greek and Roman artifacts came from the Brooklyn Museum (1942) and JHU alumnus Kemper Simpson (1964).

A catalog of selected artifacts from the museum collection was published by Ellen Reeder Williams in 1984. The volume, entitled The Archaeological Collection of the Johns Hopkins University, was printed by The Johns Hopkins University Press but is out of print at present.