Ground broken on Kelsey addition
Shovel in hand, 90-year-old Mary Meader rose from her chair and prepared to dig. She and her husband, Edwin Meader, LSA ’33, had traveled to Ann Arbor from their home in Kalamazoo to celebrate the upcoming construction of the William E. Upjohn Exhibit Hall, an addition to the Kelsey Museum of Archeology.
|Edwin and Mary Meader, whose gift was celebrated during a groundbreaking ceremony for an addition to the Kelsey Museum, receive from LSA Dean Terrence McDonald a book highlighting the Kelsey's rich history. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)
The extension, to be named for Mary Meader’s father, will be financed mainly by the couple’s $8.5 million gift. President Mary Sue Coleman, LSA Dean Terrence McDonald, Kelsey Director Sharon Herbert, and Timothy and Christopher Light, great-grandsons of W.E. Upjohn, and Robert Meader, nephew of Ed Meader, joined the couple to lift shovels in a symbolic sandbox behind the Kelsey.
Storms were in the forecast May 11, but the rain held for the event. McDonald welcomed some 200 guests who sat under a large tent.
“The Kelsey Museum is internationally recognized for its enormous collection of approximately 100,000 artifacts from Egypt and ancient Mediterranean civilizations, as well as extensive excavation records, and over 25,000 photographs,” he reminded the audience members, noting the museum mounts active programs of excavation, collection research and exhibitions, as well as maintaining a collection that has outgrown its present quarters.
McDonald drew a laugh when he remarked that alumni he’d spoken to “all knew the Kelsey Museum was here, but none could remember visiting it,” speculating that the building didn’t have the space to draw attention to its magnificent collection. “I can’t imagine another generation of LSA undergraduates leaving here without visiting the Kelsey.”
“It is through archaeology that we see art, culture, architecture, life and death,” President Coleman said. “The expansion of the Kelsey Museum will …allow the University to better store and display its priceless collections. This expansion, and greater exposure of our archaeological holdings, is possible because of a true treasure, the philanthropy of Edwin and Mary Meader.”
Herbert spoke of conversations held long ago with the previous Kelsey director about the need for more space for the museum’s collection, only one percent of which can be displayed today. She, too, expressed her gratitude for the new wing; the 17,000 square foot William E. Upjohn Exhibit Hall will triple the museum’s exhibit space and provide study and storage areas. Existing facilities will be renovated with climate control and lighting security.
Timothy Light, emeritus professor in comparative religions at Western Michigan University, entertained and inspired the crowd with anecdotes about his family, describing the Meaders as people who continue to read and think about current events. “Informed about our world,” their understanding goes “beyond our times and shores,” he added.
Several visitors toured the museum, and some went on to a dinner at the Michigan Union, but not before many crowded into the still tiny museum for a reception.