By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager
This May, longtime Kelsey curator and former director Elaine Gazda retired from the University of Michigan. Since her arrival in Ann Arbor in 1974, Elaine has had an incredible impact on the Kelsey Museum. She has not only contributed her scholarship to the field and collections, but her leadership has set the foundation for so much of what makes the Kelsey what it is today.
The archives are rife with Elaine’s presence. The exhibition files alone show her reach, as we find countless exhibitions she has curated, co-curated, and assisted with. The design and planning of the Upjohn Exhibition Wing, completed in 2009, were a result of her hard work. Elaine has numerous exhibition catalogues and publications under her name.
Over the years, Elaine has worked closely with a wide range of artifacts, both in her personal research and through the classes she has taught. She often used artifacts in the classroom, allowing her students to hold and examine up close the sculptures, wall paintings, and other materials in the Kelsey’s collections.
For this month’s “From the Archives,” we highlight Elaine’s relationship with her students, but in a slightly different manner. In 2004, Elaine took several of her IPCAA students — Lydia Herring, Matthew Harrington, Hima Mallampati, Diana Ng, Adrian Ossi, and Ben Rubin — on a trip to Turkey to learn about the sites, the architecture, and the art found there. The photographs from this trip, taken by Elaine and the students, were turned over to the Kelsey Museum. In these, we see visits to museums, the architecture of Aphrodisias and Ephesus, and their visit to Antioch. However, we are presenting the team itself, and honoring Elaine and how her students saw her. Sprinkled throughout we also see Elaine’s family, who accompanied her on this trip.
This is not goodbye to Elaine, as she will continue working with the Kelsey on numerous projects. But we do appreciate all her work and the years she has given to the museum. Her impact will be felt for a very long time. Thank you, Elaine, for all you have done, not only for the Kelsey, but for each person who has come into contact with you. You have had a profound impact on many careers. Best of luck to you.