Tiberius, Rome’s second emperor, stares at each visitor who enters the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University. His eyes are steady, his expression one of quiet contemplation, and his head—thanks to the Museum’s in-house conservation team—a vision of white Parian marble. The Museum, located on Emory University’s campus, exhibits more than 17,000 artifacts like this one. Through diverse displays, they transport visitors back to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Greece, Rome, the Near East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Tiberius is certainly one of the Museum’s more prominent pieces, but it is by no means the oldest. The Greek and Roman collection encompasses Neolithic works that stretch back to 4,000 BC. Egyptian exhibits travel back even further into civilization’s earliest prehistory. Many of the coffins and mummies come from one of Emory’s own, Professor William Shelton. He traveled to Egypt in 1920, and among other things, brought back the oldest Egyptian mummy in the Americas, the Old Kingdom Mummy.
Other galleries contain 2,300 objects from the ancient Americas. More still travel deep into South Asia, allowing visitors to view one of the Museum’s more significant pieces: a rare sculpture of the 18-armed cosmic Vishnu above his numerous attendants—a reflection of the stunning artistry of India’s medieval period.
Such a sprawling and eclectic collection would perhaps be overwhelming if not for the Museum’s educational programs. History and art experts lead tours and teach classes for both adults and children, including a regularly occurring session on Saturdays known as “Artful Stories at the Museum.” During these free events, kids hear stories of ancient civilizations, before creating their own works of art based on the day’s teachings.