‘A hidden gem’: A look inside the Oriental Institute

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CHICAGO — Chicago has a reputation of having some of the greatest museums in the country.  But many residents don’t know that one of the most impressive museums in the city even exists.

The Oriental Institute is tucked away on the campus of the University of Chicago, quietly housing the largest collection of ancient middle east artifacts in the United States — 350,000 to be exact.

“Many of these are objects that we had in our storage room but we never had on display before,” Christopher Woods, director and professor, said.

What’s even more is that nearly every artifact at the Oriental Institute was excavated by University of Chicago’s own professors and archaeologists dating back to the early ‘20s.

“This is a claim few museums can make,” Woods said. “The story of how they were discovered and studying this ancient history really tells us something profound of what it means to be human; the shared struggles, challenges and successes we’ve all had over the ages. It is the story of how we came to be.”

This month, for the Oriental Institute’s Centennial Celebration, there will be a variety of programs and guest artists planned. For the full schedule and museum hours visit oi100.uchicago.edu.

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