The Siegfried H. Horn Museum has a history dating back to the first few artifacts collected over 75 years ago.

The Early Years: 1938-70

In 1938, Lynn H. Wood arranged the permanent loan from the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, of a group of Early Bronze Age pottery vessels from Megiddo. This group formed the heart of a desk-drawer teaching collection which would, decades later, grow to become the Siegfried H. Horn Museum. Upon the retirement of Wood in 1951, Siegfried H. Horn assumed responsibility for the small collection and immediately proceeded to augment it with artifacts acquired by gifts, loans, and purchases resulting from his many and varied travels in the Middle East.

The Horn Years: 1970-76

Following the initiation of excavation at Tell Hesban in 1968, thousands of newly-recovered artifacts demanded conservation and analysis. Many were of exhibit quality. As a result of this expansion in the teaching collection of artifacts, the Andrews University Archaeological Museum (AUAM) was organized with S. H. Horn as its Curator (1970-76). The AUAM officially opened to the public in 1970 and was located in the lower level of the James White Library under the direction and guidance of Horn, who was assisted by Kathleen Mitchell (1970-71) and later by Eugenia L. Nitowski (1971-80), who also served as Assistant Curator.

The Museum acquired 2715 cuneiform tablets from Hartford Theological Seminary. Originally “on loan” to the museum, they were eventually purchased in 1978. Since then, most of the texts have been published by the Institute of Archaeology with the cooperation of Andrews University Press.

The Geraty Years: 1976-85

As artifacts continued to flood in from the Heshbon Expedition (1968-76), the AUAM quickly outgrew its accommodations. It was relocated within the James White Library in 1976. These enlarged and well-equipped facilities provided five times the original floor space to better accommodate visiting and resident scholars as well as students. At this time, Dr. Lawrence T. Geraty assumed the duties of Curator. Under his leadership, the Museum continued to expand and grow with the acquisition of artifacts, establishing the groundwork for the publication of  Tell Hesban data in the Hesban Final Publication Series. Nitowski continued in the role of Assistant Curator, coordinating an intensive program of displays, touring exhibits, and public programs. In 1980, J. Bjørnar Storfjell replaced Nitowski as Assistant Curator

Museum Renaming, 1978

Reorganizations followed in quick succession. In October 1978, upon the occasion of his retirement and in honor of his leadership and contribution to the archaeological world, the AUAM was renamed the “Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum” (HAM).

In April 1979, the “Festival of Biblical Art and Archaeology” exhibited artifacts from throughout the Middle East, featuring glassware, jewelry, sculptures, religious artifacts, lamps, jars, coins, and inscriptions. Lectures were presented by D. Ussishkin, S. Goldstein, K. N. Schoville, D. P. Cole, J. Seger, R. Dornemann, R. Coughenour, D. N. Freedman, M. Mansoor, W. G. Dever, and L. T. Geraty. The festival was cosponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Council for the Humanities.

During 1980, the Museum celebrated its tenth anniversary and hosted two exhibits. Between February 14-27, the Museum commemorated its first decade of archaeological research, beginning with a banquet in honor of S. H. Horn followed by a week of lectures. W. G. Dever delivered the keynote speech at the banquet while other lectures were presented by C. Gavin, H. Moll, D. Pardee, and C. Hinsdale. From March 18-April 14, a special exhibit called “Egypt and the Bible” featured original paintings by W. J. Hackwell. During the following two months, the special exhibit of “Coins of the Bible Lands” was viewed by thousands of local and out-of-state visitors. It included the display of 800 coins and lectures from S. Hudson, A. Terian, J. W. Eadie, and J. B. Storfjell. The exhibit was directed by Hudson and sponsored by the Michigan Council for the Humanities.

Egypt and the Bible Exhibit, 1980

The “Tell Heshbon: 3,000 Years of Frontier Life” exhibit was hosted by the Museum from March 22-27, 1981. The exhibit brought together the international group of scholars who were preparing the final report of the Hesban excavations. A banquet opened the exhibit with a keynote speech delivered by G. H. Bisheh. The festivities included two panel discussions, one with F. M. Cross, Jr., J. A. Sauer, and R. S. Boraas; the second with G. Armelagos, J. Boessneck, and P. E. Hare. Other lectures were presented by S. H. Horn, L. T. Geraty, and B. H. Isaac. Artifacts from Tell Hesban were brought from Jordan and exhibited along with the Museum’s artifacts to illustrate ancient life at Hesban and its material culture.

In 1982, the Institute of Archaeology (IA) was established to provide administrative coordination for fieldwork and publication, as well as for maintaining the work of the Museum. Geraty became its first Director while continuing in his role as Museum Curator. In the spring of that same year, due to the pressing needs of the James White Library, the Museum moved into a two-story brick structure dating to the 1930s, located on the Andrews University campus, across from the Seminary building. With its top-floor administrative offices, main exhibit floor, and full basement, this building provided the necessary room to allow the Museum to exhibit its expanding artifact collections as well as to provide room for analysis, research, and storage.

The challenge of completely dismantling the Museum exhibit and re-establishing new facilities undertaken by Geraty and a succession of student, administrative, curatorial, and editorial assistants occurred during the period 1982-85. These included J. K. Brower, W. John Hackwell, Colin House, David Merling, Randall W. Younker and others. Initial work concentrated on remodeling office space, collaterally with planning a new exhibit layout and organizing artifact storage. Amid the excitement of the move, public activities continued.

On March 7, 1983, the “Ebla: The Rediscovered Empire” symposium was held. Visitors from throughout the Midwest listened to six presentations from the Italian Missione Archeologica in Syria sponsored by the International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies by P. Matthiae, G. S. Matthiae, A. Archi, S. M. Archi, and F. Pinnock. On July 15, the 15 year reunion of Heshbon Expedition members was celebrated with a tour of the Museum.

In 1985 William H. Shea became the acting director of the Institute of Archaeology, following Lawrence T. Geraty’s acceptance of new administrative duties at Atlantic Union College.

From January 2-March 17, 1985, the museum played host to the exhibit called “Sign, Symbol, and Script: An Exhibition on the Origins of Writing and the Alphabet.” This exhibit traced the history of writing from the earliest days of civilization with 300 artifacts on loan from various museums and private collections. Fourteen lecturers included K. N. Schoville, D. Schmandt-Besserat, A. Demsky, F. M. Cross, Jr., R. Johnston, and L. Turner. The exhibit was produced by the Hebrew and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin (Madison) and the Milwaukee Public Museum with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and other contributors, as well as a grant from the Michigan Council for the Humanities.

The Institute of Archaeology, in conjunction with the Museum, sponsored its first Conference on Biblical Archaeology from July 8-11, 1985. The sessions were conducted by S. H. Horn, K. L. Vine, L. G. Herr, K. N. Schoville, J. K. Hoffmeier, E. R. Thiele, L. T. Geraty, W. H. Shea, A. Terian, J. B. Storfjell, Ø. S. LaBianca, and W. J. Hackwell.

The Merling Years: 1986-2006

J. Bjørnar Storfjell agreed to fill in as interim Institute director pending the appointment of a permanent director after William H. Shea transferred to the Biblical Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

David Merling assumed the responsibilities of Museum Curator in March 1986. Under Merling’s guidance the Museum underwent several major developments including the opening of the exhibit floor to the public and a reorganization of the storage system for objects not displayed. Zlatko Kanaki served as assistant to the Curator during those first years. The procurement of new artifacts continued as did a series of public programs. The recurring Lecture Series continued to bring to campus a succession of internationally-known scholars. In addition, an emphasis was placed on procuring specific artifacts with a view to fill gaps in the display collection.

In early 1986, the exhibit was unfinished: composed of empty cabinets and boxed artifacts. It had been closed to the public for several years since having been relocated from the James White Library. Merling first initiated an interim display, whose layout was designed by Stephanie C. Merling. This display was opened to the public in the fall. Longer-termed plans were begun in late 1986 and throughout 1987 to provide for illustrative murals and the establishment of a writing room. The exhibit floor underwent significant changes in 1988 as some of these plans came to fruition, facilitated in part by Ralph E. Hendrix (1988-90) in the role of assistant to the curator.

On January 1, 1988, Randall W. Younker assumed the position of Institute of Archaeology Director relieving an overworked Bjørnar Storfjell of his interim duties.

Not only were several artifacts acquired in 1988, including numerous Iron II vessels, but work was completed on a series of eleven oil-painted murals painted by Nathan Greene and which, together with the displays of ancient artifacts, helped visitors to better envision the biblical world. The refurbished exhibit floor was opened to the public on October 29, 1988, during a Grand Opening. With coverage by local TV, the events included a re-dedication of the Museum, followed by an “Artist’s Tour” of the murals by artist Nathan Greene, and concluded with a banquet in honor of S. H. Horn.

1988 Dedication

Later in 1988, the Museum hosted two exhibits. “Frankincense and Myrrh: Objects from the Red Sea Trade Routes during the Roman Empire,” was held from November 6-December 4. The exhibit highlighted Nabataean artifacts from the Horn Museum together with those from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Salt lake City, UT), the Kresge Art Museum (Michigan State University), and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology (University of Michigan). Then, on November 14, 1988, a traveling exhibit came to Andrews University, consisting of eight picture panels and six display cases of artifacts from the Madaba Plains Project excavations. These were displayed in the James White Library.

In 1991 Øystein S. LaBianca was appointed Associate Director for Hesban Publications, in a reorganization that also included curator David Merling being designated as Associate Director of Administration.

In late 1990 and early 1991, plans were initiated to house the 4500 volumes of S. H. Horn’s personal library which he donated to the Museum. A week-long celebration was held to pay tribute to S. H. Horn during April 1991. The festivities included an open house sponsored by the Museum which showed several new features including a portrait of S. H. Horn and other displays. The newly organized Siegfried H. Horn Library, located on the lower level of the Museum, was opened for the first time. The week ended with a banquet in honor of S. H. Horn.

Donation of S. H. Horn’s personal library

Several new types of acquisitions and objects from excavation were added to the Museum collection in 1992. Gitin Sherd Collection generously donated by Dr. Sy Gitin augmented the teaching corpus of pottery sherds by several thousand samples. The initial computerization of this sherd collection was conducted by Chang-Ho Ji in the role as assistant to the Curator (1990-92) and later by Paul J. Ray, Jr., in the same role (beginning in 1992). P. Ray also continued maintenance of the accessions database, including objects newly-arrived from the 1992 season at Tell Jalul. A Philistine Sarcophagus Mask added dramatically to the Iron Age display and two the Galilee Boat Models patterned after that excavated in the Sea of Galilee exemplified the type of boat Jesus and Peter might have sailed on in New Testament times.

On March 20-21, 1993, a group of 19 scholars gathered to celebrate and reflect on the 25th Anniversary of the beginning of the Heshbon Expedition. Participants of the symposium titled “Tell Hesban After 25 Years: Continuity and Change on the Madaba Plains of Jordan” represented 13 institutions from three countries and eight states. Lecturers included L. T. Geraty, R. W. Younker, J. R. Fisher, D. Merling, E. E. Platt, R. D. Ibach, Jr., D. Waterhouse, L. A. Mitchel, B. Van Elderen, J. I. Lawlor, J. B. Storfjell, B. de Vries, R. S. Boraas, Ø. S. LaBianca, J. A. Sauer, and S. Kh. Tell and W. E. Rast. Other events included a banquet and visits to local community service clubs and schools. The Michigan Humanities Council cosponsored the event. The symposium papers were gathered into the book Hesban After 25 Years.

Upon the passing of S. H. Horn in 1993, the “Friends of Siegfried H. Horn Endowment Fund” was initiated to facilitate the travel of students to Institute-sponsored archaeological excavations. Objects from the 1994 field excavation to Tell Jalul continue the enlargement of the Museum collection via this source.

The permanent exhibits of the “Egyptian Necropolis” and the “Writing Through the Ages” were added to the display floor in May 1995. These exhibits were prepared by Paul J. Ray, Jr., Assistant to the Curator. Also, the “Friends of Siegfried H. Horn Endowment Fund,” was activated in 1995.

Two monumental replicas were procured in 1996. The Mesha Stela (Moabite Stone) arrived in April 96. A replica of the Black Obelisk was first displayed in June 1996. A small model of Solomon’s Jerusalem temple, based on the architectural studies of Leen Ritmeyer, augmented the collection late in the year. Also arriving were the objects from the 1996 field excavation at Tell Jalul.

A project to completely computerize the accession database was initiated in 1996-97. The objects had long-since been on a linear database, however this project located the artifacts (along with more complete descriptive information and digitized graphics) into a searchable database compatible with the World Wide Web.

Transitions: New Facilities and Personnel

In October of 2003 the old Institute of Archaeology/Horn Archaeological Museum building on the Campus of Andrews University was demolished, ending a twenty-one-year use of this facility. Its new location is on Old US 31 in the former bank/commercial building in the Apple Valley plaza. The new facility is about four times the size of the previous one. Plans for a phased remodeling and occupation of the four-winged facility, have been progressing steadily. Phase one includes a research library, laboratory and research centers for the major excavations supported by the Institute (Jalul and Hisban), a seminar room/reception area, Ph.D. student office, artifact/archival storage and miscellaneous storage. Some of these facilities are either completed or in preparation (see Newsletter 24.4 for details). The second phase includes a wing for the Institute/Museum offices along with rooms for special collections and maps. The final phase is a new state-of-the-art exhibit with separate rooms for some of the Museum’s larger collections (cuneiform tablets and coins).

In the spring of 2006 David Merling resigned as Curator of the Museum in order to pursue new career opportunities. Constance E. Gane was appointed as Curator. She continued the work of Dr. Merling in steering the Museum’s activities into the future.

In Spring 2016, the Horn Museum began a renovation of its exhibits and exhibit hall. New paint, carpet, and lighting was installed, new display cabinets were purchased, and the exhibits were re-organized.


Beginning in 1938 and continuing for some 60 years, the archaeological teaching collection has grown from a mere handful of pottery to nearly 9000 objects. The facilities have enlarged from a desk drawer to a four-wing facility with administrative, display, research and storage facilities. Use of the collection has evolved from classroom curiosities handled by a few students to public exhibitions viewed by thousands. The work and dedication of scores of individuals, institutes, archaeological expeditions, and national governments have combined to preserve significant aspects of ancient material culture, provide insight into the history of mankind, and illuminate the biblical world.