Friday, August 20, 2010

Showcasing the ancient world at John Hoskins

JHU Gazette (Greg Rienzi)

In the past, visitors to Homewood’s Gilman Hall might have strolled by Sanchita Balachandran and wondered what she did. She’d have been the one wearing the respirator and purple rubber gloves, likely on her way to conserve an Egyptian mummy in a nondescript, dimly lit room on the first floor of the building.

Balachandran, the mummy and the rest of the objects in the university’s archaeological collection are now poised to come out into the light—customized fiber-optic ones at that—and receive much greater visibility.

In July, Balachandran, an objects conservator by training, was named curator of the new Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, a glass-dominated 1,600-square-foot space located directly below Gilman Hall’s new atrium courtyard. The museum, designed by Kliment Halsband Architects with conservation-grade display cases and cabinets crafted by noted local firm Helmut Guenschel, is intended for the exhibition and study of the university’s archaeological artifacts.

Betsy M. Bryan, the Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology and director of the Archaeological Museum, said that Balachandran’s appointment brings to fruition the labors of faculty from a number of departments who worked with the architects to create a truly state-of-the-art museum space.

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