About this Exhibition
The initial idea for this exhibition came as I was working on my book on the Kelsey Museum’s coffin of Djehutymose. In choosing images for the book, I was struck by all the jackal gods I was finding on the coffin and in the Kelsey Museum collections. I wasn’t able to use all the material I found in the book, and the idea of doing an exhibition to pursue these jackal gods took root.
Another inspiration came during preparations for my exhibition Karanis Revealed. I hadn’t expected that this project would involve jackal gods, but they kept coming up — jackals on the stelae from Terenouthis, a faience jackal head, amulets and other images from Karanis — while dogs kept appearing in archival photographs of the Michigan excavation. Meanwhile, my assistant Andrew Ferrara had adopted a replica Anubis head as our office mascot, around which Anubis-themed toys and games began to accumulate, — another theme.
I also kept returning to old books for images and inspiration. Fanciful 17th- and 18th-century illustrations of Egyptian gods, along with more faithful 19th- and early 20th-century facsimiles of wall reliefs and funerary papyri all proved to be good sources of images of jackal gods and how modern perceptions of them have changed.
All of these inspirations led me to develop the exhibition Death Dogs so that I could explore these mysterious gods and their modern manifestations. Collaboration with exhibition designers Scott Maier and Emily Kirk shaped the visual look of the exhibition — both playful and mysterious — into something different from anything the Kelsey had done before. I always felt that the exhibition had too short a run (just over three months: 6 February–3 May 2015), so I am pleased to be able to share it with you in this virtual form, courtesy of our web designer, Julia Falkovitch-Khain. I hope you enjoy Death Dogs: The Jackal Gods of Ancient Egypt!
Terry G. Wilfong