REVIEW: Tiny Objects, Big Stories

Where do you go first in a museum?

This was the question behind the “Tiny Objects, Big Stories” virtual tour at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. I hadn’t given the question much thought until now. I realized that in all the hours I have spent wandering museum exhibits, I always began with the largest pieces, expansive paintings and statues. Naturally, these are the first things to catch my eye.

However, there’s a whole other collection of artifacts that are often overlooked. These include smaller tablets, amulets and coins that are typically protected behind glass walls. The “Tiny Objects, Big Stories” tour brings a magnifying glass to these artifacts to offer a closer look. The tour zooms in on amulets, scarabs, seals, coins and other tiny figurines and their respective histories.

I was particularly interested in the different amulets and scarabs. With detailed engravings, these amulets and scarabs were symbols of protection. Some protected one’s health and luck while others focused on navigating the afterlife. The heart scarab, for example, was inscribed with the Book of Dead spell to offer “protection of the deceased’s heart during the judgment in the afterlife.” This small scarab had a lengthy inscription of the spell that would have been difficult to spot during your average museum visit. This sparked an appreciation for the skilled craftsmanship and detail put into such artifacts. It made me wonder what spells may be hidden behind a scarab the size of my thumb.

I began to consider my own tiny objects and the stories they hold, such as an old Snapple bottle cap with a fun fact or an engraved ballpoint pen. They may not be as cool as the artifacts at the museum, but they have a lot significance in spite of their size. It just takes a bit more thought and effort to recognize these pieces.

This virtual tour allowed me to get in all the beautiful details of such tiny artifacts. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology will continue to host such virtual tours for anyone who is interested! It is a great way to stay safe and follow along from the comfort of your home (or squishmallows). Moreover, the Zoom interface creates a close-knit space where tour guides and guests can share comments and questions easily. The museum also hosts other in-person and virtual events you can find here.




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