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  • Manda Villarreal

Project Proposal




The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology supports teaching and research on Classical, Egyptian, and Near Eastern archaeology through stewardship of its rich collections, an active exhibitions program, and sponsorship of ongoing field research. The Kelsey houses a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts, of which approximately 1,500 are on permanent display; in addition, the Museum mounts 2–3 special exhibitions annually. As an exhibit museum at a public university, the Kelsey embraces a vigorous public outreach mission, engaging with local residents and visitors of all ages, from kindergarten through retirement.  It also serves as the headquarters of the University of Michigan’s graduate program in Classical Art and Archaeology.


The intended audience for this project is anyone who interacts with the spaces provided by the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, including inside and outside the physical space. Most often, the space is contained by University of Michigan staff and students, especially those affiliated with the University of Michigan’s department of Classical Art & Archaeology. In other occasions, the space is used by the general public of local Ann Arbor as a public museum, and the offices in the building as a meeting space for University of Michigan colleagues. Although small, the quant space is rich in resources and serves as a quick escape to the past for students, professors, and visitors alike.


The Kelsey Museum, although visual detailed exhibition wise in it’s space, still comes with it’s set of issues regarding navigation and way-finding. My task is to give the Kelsey Museum of Archeology visual clarity through typography and appropriate signage both inside and outside the museum.

Key visual themes I wish to include in the Kelsey Museum of Archeology’s Way-finding Assignment:

1. Artifacts

As a museum, the space is occupied mostly by globally found objects and artifacts. My goal in this project is to use the items in the museum as icons, symbols, and points of clarity through out the space. Because I’m not an expert of the items found in the Museum, I will use specific resources from the museum and from exhibited catalogs to understand them. Specifically, I plan to use the Cosmogonic Tattoos by Jim Cogswell catalog as a main source for this project. His project also involved transforming the artifacts in the museum into symbols for his project - creating vinyl patterns on the exterior glass walls on the south end of the Kelsey Museum leading to the Thompson Road entrance into the museum.

2. Color

From floor to ceiling, the Kelsey museum is contained by concrete and off-white/beige colored exhibition signage and display cases. This abundance of white leaves the space feeling uncomfortably sterile and bare, when instead the space should inspire visitors to feel adventurous and insightful. To make the space more visually appealing and to aid in categorization and hierarchy, I will use color limitedly in this project. This will not only assist in navigational clarity but it will also fill the neutral-colored void the space possesses at the moment.

3. Geographic Location

Before beginning this assignment, I investigated the Kelsey museum for any noticeable navigational flaws. One I found to stand out the most was the lack of clarity regarding where the item you’re looking at is from. Some parts of the museum are clearly designated to contain artifacts from a certain region of the world, while other parts of the museum contain artifacts from a multitude of locations. Somehow, I hope to create labels are signage to designate clearly where an artifact, or a defined selection of artifacts, is from geographically.

4. University vs Public Space

Because the museum is both contained in a public space and on a university campus, the museum faces a dueling identity as a building. From the curatorial and archival staff at the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, I hope to understand which identity is more or less important than the other in certain moments and situations. Both identities serve a definitive and crucial purpose to the museum, and through research I hope to understand how to approach both identities in my assignment.


This project proposal will change over time, but this is the initial draft I will present in class tomorrow.

- Manda V.

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