1906-1907 Expedition to Egypt
A Paper "Fold-a-Bull" inspired by the Lamassu at the OI


Imagine, Interact, Engage

Archives everywhere conserve objects of cultural heritage for future generations, but archives are often endangered and forgotten. Do not forget, engage! Explore how archives connect us with our past and future through the OI's Cultural Heritage Experiment. The CHE has loaned archival objects to undergraduates for an academic year since 2018. Your object will allow you to engage with the archive, interact with the past, and imagine new contexts. Join us! In 2020-2021, the CHE has gone virtual and participating students have contributed their own objects and received digital copies of items in the archive. 


  • During the Fall Quarter (2020) students shared an archival object of their own that reflected their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also went on a gallery tour with OI Curator, Dr. Kiersten Neumann.
  • For the Winter Quarter (2021) students were loaned digital copies of archival objects and will research their objects and share their findings during a virtual meet-up on Friday, February 19, 2020.
  • Spring Quarter, TBA.


The archives of the Oriental Institute encompass materials spanning nearly 120 years, documenting the beginning of ancient Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago around 1900 and the history of the Oriental Institute. Contained within the walls of the archive are administrative documents, correspondence, dictionary projects, excavation records, film, faculty papers, and photography

The archival record is constantly in flux due to the fact that it continues to expand while being subject to processes of cataloging, curation, and digitization. In light of this reality, the vastness of the OI Museum Archives is not yet fully understood and new treasures are always coming to light. The scale and scope of the archives makes using and organizing them a mode of excavation. This process is essential not only for preserving the past for future generations, but for ensuring their discoverability in the present. The Cultural Heritage Experiment is one way in which you can participate in making our history visible now.


The categories of objects available for loan include: photographs, plans, posters, drawings, maps, silk screens, folios, casts, replicas, and prints. Depending on the year, between 50 and 100 objects are loaned out to undergraduates at the University of Chicago. This year, because of the virtual nature of the project, correspondence, object registers, and negative strips have also been loaned.


  • A copy of the loan document that you will sign is available here.
  • A list of potential items for distribution can be found here.
  • FAQ's

For more information contact: Anne Flannery at oi-che@uchicago.edu