SEMITIC MUSEUM, HARVARD UNIVERSITY:
Founded by Jacob H. Schiff of New York in 1889, at Cambridge, Mass. Its objects are to gather, preserve, and exhibit all known kinds of material illustrating the life, history, and thought of the Semitic peoples, to increase the knowledge of the Semitic past by taking part in the exploration of Semitic countries and ruins, and by publishing the results of such investigations to show what have been the Semitic contributions to civilization. The founder gave in 1889, $10,000 to the university to purchase objects illustrating the subjects of Semitic instruction. On May 13, 1891, the collection thus purchased was formally opened to the public in a room of the Peabody Museum; in the winter of 1902-3 it was transferred to the Semitic Museum Building, also the gift of its founder.
The ground floor contains the library (the gift of the same donor) and three lecture-rooms; the second floor comprises a large hall, the Assyrian Room, containing the Babylonian, Assyrian, and Hittite exhibits, and the curator's room. The Palestinian Room is on the third floor.
The growth of the collection has been continuous, through both gift and purchase. In 1899 about $20,000 was raised by subscription for the purpose of further purchases.
The Assyrian Room contains casts from the Babylonian, Assyrian, and Hittite monuments and from bas-reliefs in the museums of London, Paris, Berlin, and Constantinople; original Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions on stone and clay; stone seal cylinders; statuettes; and building-bricks. The Palestinian Room contains, from Palestine (including the Merrill Collection), Phenicia, Palmyra, Damascus, Moab, Arabia, and Philistia, monuments, inscriptions, and coins; geological specimens; specimens of flora and fauna; glassware, pottery, and utensils; costumes and ornaments; books, manuscripts, and photographs. It contains also objects from Egypt and Persia, illustrating the important connections of these countries with the Semitic peoples.