Kids Love Ancient Egypt and Archaeology

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Apr 22, 2013 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

If you've got a kid like mine, they are POSSESSED by an intense desire to learn anything - ANYTHING! - about Ancient Egypt. From building statues in the sand on our beach to mummifying a chicken, from reading books (we recommend Explore within an Egyptian Mummy) to practicing mummication online, we've done it. We've learned about sociology, religion, heiroglyphs, geography, history, language, math, and more. We've read every single Ancient Egypt biography there is. But when you've exhausted all those avenues, and your child still wants more, what do you do?

Heiroglyph, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Well. It's easy. You head to Chicago, to the Oriental Institute. It's located at the University of Chicago, was founded in 1919, and is a premiere archaeology museum and research center for ancient Near Eastern studies. It's a treasure trove, a huge historical and archaeological showcase that invites kids to learn - and dream. Well, kids of all ages. Because, after each visit, I rethink my decision to work in international education and wonder how long a PhD in Archaeology would take (sigh). Note: there are degree programs available. (yes!)

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

According to their website, the Oriental Institute Museum "displays objects recovered by Oriental Institute excavations in permanent galleries devoted to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, and the ancient site of Megiddo, as well as rotating special exhibits."

This lovely catalogue of goodness does not do justice to BEING there. It's wonderful, from the moment you walk in. Before you go, I'd highly recommend that you explore their excellent resource, Teaching the Middle East. It provides you with the foundational and historical perspectives needed to truly grasp the excellent collections, by using scholarly essays, images, references, and even lesson plans if you so desire.

Halloween family program, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Halloween family program, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Halloween family programs (both photos, above)

So - you walk in. Depending on the time, it might be crazy busy with kids (a Halloween event! Family Programs!) or a quiet time - there are often courses, family programs, workshops, and lectures scheduled. The energy of a family event is not to be missed. Here, in ONE spot, are countless kids who LOVE this topic. It's so joyful! Sign up for their newsletter, or check the events page on the website for more information.

This place lives large. There's an enormous statue of King Tutankhamun (over 17 feet tall!); colossal statues from Persepolis, of polished black limestone (Lillie loves the head of a bull, who previously guarded the entrance to the Hundred Column Hall); and a human headed winged bull from Khorsabad, Mesopotamia (16 feet tall!), that once stood in the throneroom of the palace of the Assyrian King Sargon II. Kids LOVE the immense scale of such items - almost beyond belief.

colossal statues from Persepolis, of polished black limestone

colossal statues from Persepolis, of polished black limestone

colossal statues from Persepolis, of polished black limestone

King Tutankhamun, Oriental Institute, U of Chicago

human headed winged bull from Khorsabad, Mesopotamia (16 feet tall!), that once stood in the throneroom of the palace of the Assyrian King Sargon II.

The Galleries include glassed in cases (perfect for grubby small hands to NOT get in trouble), interactive exhibits, Tut's dishes, sarcophagi, audio tours, and more. Before you leave, hit the Suq (the wonderful store!) to stock up on books you might not have found before. We've added considerably to our Egypt Library at home from this store.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Sarcophagus, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Can't make it to Chicago for a bit yet? Appease your curiosity with the Virtual Museum Tour (dating from before the 1996 renovation) - a wonderful way to explore.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Whether you head there with kids or not, visiting the Oriental Institute is a must for readers who love Ancient Egypt. It's an extraordinary, wonderful time (and be sure to schedule more than a day!), full of learning, exploration, and the chance to imagine oneself in history (don't you always do that?!).

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

For more information, please see:
https://oi.uchicago.edu/

 

Details:

Free admission, suggested donation

1155 East 58th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 USA
(773) 702-9520 - Museum Office

Handicap accessible (proven by me!) - ramps, elevators, very clear pathways

Street parking available (close by with meters, further away without), but you might have to drive around for a bit to find a spot within a few blocks

 

The museum is closed on Mondays and these dates: January 1; July 4; Thanksgiving Day; and December 25.

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts

 

 

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Comments (3)

  • Ashley Steel

    4 years 7 months ago

    Fabulous inspiration and photos!  My daughter wants to be an archaeologist and I'm sure after she reads this that she's going to want to fly to Chicago the next day!!

    Ashley Steel

    Editor for Traveling with Kids

    www.familyontheloose.com

  • Cat Gaa

    4 years 7 months ago

    As a kid, I was obsessed with Ancient Egypt. As a teenager, I did all of my projects on mummification, ancient rites, burial grounds. As an adult (and one from Chicago), I MUST visit!!

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    4 years 7 months ago

    Cat - you've GOT to go! It's an extraordinary place!

     

    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

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