Walsh Library Museum Reopens to Public


Major renovations to the museum included refinished floors, the demolition of old display cases and the custom fabrication of new cases and new paint in certain areas of the museum. (Courtesy of Professor Udell for The Fordham Ram)

On March 6, the Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art reopened in Walsh Library after undergoing renovations. On June 1, 2021, the museum closed after having 99 items seized by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. As a result, the museum underwent renovations beginning in summer 2022 in order to accommodate new and old antiquities.

Jennifer Udell, curator of university art, headed the renovation of the Fordham Museum. A few major renovations include refinished floors, the demolition of old display cases and the custom fabrication of new cases and new paint in certain areas of the museum.
“Mostly the installation was a way to rethink how the objects should be displayed and grouped,” said Udell.

Though the Fordham Museum reopening was a celebration, there were challenges which came along with the renovations. Udell noted that scheduling different aspects of the job such as floor refinishings and case fabricators was particularly difficult. Director of Libraries Linda Loschiavo recalled that, although confined to the museum’s unit in Walsh Library, the museum renovations were noisy.

“Imagine sitting in a room trying to study and a subway car rolls through every two minutes! Nonetheless we all survived, and the result was a beautiful floor that glows, almost shimmers, under the lights,” said Loschiavo.

Towards the end of the renovation process, many of Udell’s students volunteered to contribute to the renovations hands-on by assisting in curating object displays. Students unpacked the objects from storage, installed the display cases and organized and pulled labels for objects to prepare for installation.

“They had a chance to put on their curational design caps. What I did was show them the material that needed to be installed, and I let them pick what they wanted to work on,” said Udell.

Students who had a continued interest in the installation process returned to install individual cases.

“They helped a lot. These were students from my current class now which isn’t a museum studies class,” said Udell.

Although Udell doesn’t have a favorite piece in the museum, she takes pride in how certain cases came together, particularly a case with jewels and charms, the tools and weapons case and the case on forgeries and fakes. One of the museum’s new objects is a Carnelian ring, engraved with Emperor Commodus and his wife. Udell’s husband even constructed a magnification device which sits in front of the stone so that visitors can clearly see the image.

Loschiavo said she anticipates that students will take advantage of the museum’s singularity.

“We want students to know that the museum is part of the uniqueness of their Fordham experience, that being in a museum is a unique form of learning, and that being inches away from an object that is thousands of years old is not quite the same as seeing it on a screen,” said Loschiavo.

Udell said she hopes that students utilize the museum for what it is: a special resource unique to Fordham. According to Udell, no other university in New York has a teaching collection that is as large as Fordham, or is open to the public.

“I want [the students] to realize that they want to learn more about the art of the Ancient Mediterranean… that they can realize the value of learning from objects first-hand rather than through a textbook,”said Udell.

Similarly, Loschiavo said she believes the reopening of the museum will further curiosity and discovery among students.

“The rebirth of the museum into a 21st century exhibition space and teaching facility has helped make Walsh Library complete again, and it has made the museum into what it should have always been: a learning center, a teaching resource, a forum for noisy new ideas and a place for quiet revelations,” said Loschiavo.

Students can visit the museum during Walsh Library’s hours of operation.