The Membership Office
1995-96 ANNUAL REPORT
In 1995/96, the Membership Office offered a range of dinners, lectures, and tours to our many loyal members. The Annual Dinner was held for the first time outside of the Institute, and was a resounding success. Almost 200 members and friends joined us on May 13, 1996 at the University Club of Chicago. The evening benefited the Oriental Institute Research Archives, and Archivist Charles E. Jones gave a thoughtful after-dinner talk on both the history and future of the Research Archives, stressing all the while the central place that the archives (including their burgeoning electronic resources) have in the mission of the Oriental Institute (see the Research Archives article). The membership year closed with an Associates Dinner at the Union League Club of Chicago, featuring Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, a textile expert who worked with Professor Janet H. Johnson and Research Associate Donald Whitcomb at Quseir al-Qadim. Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood offered both a lecture and a fashion show, featuring slides and replicas of materials from Tutankhamun's tomb, with adventurous dinner guests modeling.
The James Henry Breasted Society began the year with a buffet dinner welcoming the newest member of the Oriental Institute faculty, Assistant Professor of the Archaeology of Israel David Schloen. Thanks to Oriental Institute Museum Curator Karen L. Wilson, Registrar Raymond Tindel, and Conservators Laura D'Alessandro and Barbara Hamann, Breasted Society members were able to view the remarkable Megiddo ivories up close and to ask questions of both Professor Schloen and Dr. Tindel. In June, Mrs. Janet Helman--a member of the Visiting Committee to the Oriental Institute, the Legacy Campaign Executive Committee, and a loyal supporter of Membership activities--and her husband Robert hosted a Breasted Society dinner in their home. Visiting Professor Mark Lehner spoke to those in attendance about his recent work on the Giza plateau.
The Membership Office sponsored a reception in January celebrating the retirement of Professor Edward F. Wente from teaching. Many of Professor Wente's friends and family were in attendance, and a number of members joined all of us at the Oriental Institute in wishing him well. The last event held in the museum galleries as they were formerly arranged took place on February 7, 1996. Oriental Institute Director William M. Sumner, Museum Curator Karen L. Wilson, and Assistant Curator Emily Teeter spoke to over a hundred members about the renovation and expansion project which is now in full swing. We look forward to returning to the galleries for special membership events in 1998, when the museum will reopen.
The Members Lectures series offered a range of Oriental Institute faculty and other scholars from the United States and abroad. Assistant Professor David Schloen spoke in October on "Canaanites and Israelites at Ancient Megiddo," and Professor Edward F. Wente gave a farewell lecture on "Workers in the Valley of the Kings" the following month. In March, Professor Robert D. Biggs delivered a talk entitled "From Conception to Old Age in Babylonian Medicine." The Membership Office continued its fruitful collaboration with the Chicago Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) in presenting three visiting scholars. Dr. Jane Waldbaum of the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee spoke in December on "Greeks in the East or Greeks and the East? Problems in the Definition and Recognition of Presence." The following month saw our membership welcome Dr. Dennis Groh from the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Dr. Groh detailed recent work in Israel in his lecture "Excavations in a Romano/Jewish City in the Galilee: Sephoris." Alan H. Simmons, Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, spoke in February about his own recent research on the Neolithic of Jordan. Finally, the Oriental Institute welcomed back T. G. H. (Harry) James, former Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities at the British Museum, in April. He detailed the life of a pioneer in archaeology in his talk "William John Bankes: An Early Egyptian Epigrapher." In the forthcoming year, the Membership Office will again offer lectures from Oriental Institute faculty, collaborative efforts with AIA, and other visiting scholars. We will be changing the format of our lecture series, in accordance with the wishes of our members and as a result of the closing of the galleries. Lectures will begin at 8:00 pm to allow members to dine at the Quadrangle Club beforehand, and receptions will precede the lectures. We continue to explore new topics and locations for our Members Lectures series; please check News & Notes for announcements.
The Oriental Institute Travel Program offered a range of departures to members in 1995/96. In November, eighteen members took part in the Swan Hellenic cruise "Prophets and Pilgrims," which visited major archaeological sites in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Our members departed from the general itinerary for a visit to Chicago House at Luxor and were welcomed by Oriental Institute Research Associate Donald Whitcomb at his dig in Aqaba, Jordan. In January, Oriental Institute Museum Curator Karen L. Wilson and Smart Museum of Art Director Kimerly Rorschach led a small group of members from both institutions to Dallas-Fort Worth, to take in both the touring exhibit of Assyrian Reliefs from the British Museum and to take in some of the fine modern art collections in the area. February featured "Wonders of Egypt: Cruising Lake Nasser," a well-subscribed tour of Egypt that included not only a special reception at Chicago House but also a five-day cruise of the lake and its Nubian monuments. Finally, Oriental Institute Research Associate (Associate Professor) Tony J. Wilkinson led a group of travelers on "Syria: The Fertile Crescent" in March, a tour that marked the return of the Oriental Institute Travel Program to Syria after a lengthy absence. In 1996/97, Oriental Institute Museum Assistant Curator Emily Teeter will take a group of our members to Turkey in September and October, while in March, Research Associate (Associate Professor) Donald Whitcomb is to lead a tour to Lower Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula, and Jordan. Both of these tours will include visits to current Oriental Institute field projects and offer members an opportunity to expand their firsthand knowledge of ancient Near Eastern archaeology.
The Membership Office could not have functioned without the cooperation and extra effort of the staff and faculty. Thomas Urban and the Publications Office gave generously of precious time and invaluable expertise for the production of News & Notes and the Annual Report ; Emily Teeter and John Larson freely shared their experiences in Middle Eastern travel; Denise Browning from the Suq and Carole Krucoff, Carol Redmond, Kaylin Goldstein, and Yumi Roth of Museum Education offered suggestions for improving Membership programs and publications; Jean Grant provided event photography; and Joe Searcy lent a welcome hand with event setup. Dionne Herron was a regular source of advice and assistance as I learned the requirements of the office, and Amanda Geppert quickly mastered the efficient processing of memberships. I would like to thank these people and the other members of the faculty and staff for making my first year as Membership Coordinator so enjoyable and gratifying.
Revised: July 30, 2007