This Fertile Land
Almost all the seals in the exhibit were collected by archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld in 1928, in an attempt to salvage a site under siege by looters. Herzfeld sold the items to a New York gallery, which advertised them in a button magazine. They were duly bought by button collector Jane Adams. After Adams's death, her husband donated the "buttons" to the Kelsey. The exhibit honors the collection's roundabout route by whimsically including contemporary buttons similar to the ancient seals, including buttons drawn from the button jars of exhibit curator Margaret Cool Root and Evelyn Gibbons ("The Button Lady") of Ann Arbor.
This Fertile Land continues through September 30.
[Originally published in March, 2005.]