FY2016 Report of Peter van Alfen, Curator

Report of Peter van Alfen, Curator

October 29, 2016


The curatorial department this year saw some significant staff changes. US Coins and Currency Curator Matthew Wittman departed in February after less than a year with us to accept a position in the Harvard University Library system. As a result, we rethought our staffing and curatorial needs in the light of our overall financial situation. Instead of hiring narrow specialists to cover only one specific area, all curatorial staff will now cover a variety of areas, in which they are expected to curate, undertake research, and serve members of the public. This will allow us to focus on neglected areas of the collection and catalogue new acquisitions, in particular whole collections, with much more efficiency. Our colleague Gilles Bransbourg, who joined our team on 1 September as an Associate Curator, will curate the Roman collections while also being in charge of coins and currencies of the Americas. David Yoon, who has been with the Society in a variety of roles in the publication and curatorial departments, has agreed to join the Society as an Associate Curator to dedicate his efforts to the growing collections in the Medieval and Early Modern European areas. We have also hired two limited-term staff members, Mr. Vivek Gupta and Dr. Lucia Carbone, to work on areas of the collection that need more attention. You will have a chance to hear from each of them momentarily. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Peter Donovan for his many years of service to the ANS. For the better part of a decade now, Peter has been overseeing our Islamic collection, and has worked tirelessly on cataloguing and reordering much of that collection. As he is now stepping back some from his responsibilities, it is only right that we acknowledge what he has done for us and offer him a round of applause.


So, I want to give a quick overview of what the curatorial department has been up to this year. In 2016, a great deal of curatorial energy, which includes that of our Digital Scientist, Ethan Gruber, was again directed towards our web-based projects, including the continuing development of our existing highly acclaimed digital tools:

-Hellenistic Royal Coinages (new for 2017!)

-Pella: Coinage of the Kings of Macedonia (PELLA)(https://numismatics.org/pella/)

-Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards Online (IGCH)(http://coinhoards.org/)

-Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE)(https://numismatics.org/ocre/)

-Coinage of the Roman Republic Online (CRRO) (https://numismatics.org/crro/)

-Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic (CHRR) (https://numismatics.org/chrr/)

-Art of Devastation (AoD)


As the three-year $300,000 grant received from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) for OCRE comes to an end in early 2017, we are happy to report that all of the project milestones have been met; the project is, in fact, ahead of schedule and achieving more than initially promised. Gilles Bransbourg will tell you more about this in a moment. The overwhelmingly positive response that we have received for our digital initiatives has encouraged to push on with still more. In 2017, we’re planning to begin work on a project called Hellenistic Royal Coinage, which will serve as an umbrella site linking existing or soon to be launched sites focusing on the coinages of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. Stay tuned!

As most of these digital projects require high quality photography and precision cataloguing of thousands of objects in the ANS collection, again considerable attention was focused on re-cataloguing and photographing collection objects.


Our photographers Alan Roche and Emma Pratte added images of over 23,000 objects to our website this year; currently our collection database, MANTIS, has over 138,700 objects with high-resolution images available, representing roughly 22% of our entire collection. Because of the Greek and Roman focus of many of our digital projects, it was those two areas that saw the greatest gains this year. Right now, about half of our Greek and Roman collections are now illustrated online.


When not pushing hard on the digital front, the staff have continued to make substantial academic contributions and to share their knowledge with students and other interested folk. Again this year, the curatorial staff distinguished itself with a prolific number of publications and presentations of research. Our collective publication tally for the year stands at one book, 28 articles or chapters, and 13 conference papers at venues in the US and Europe. For those interested, details and downloads of many of our publications can be found on our individual academia.edu pages, links for which are also available on our individual biography pages on the ANS website.


All curatorial staff members, along with Ute Wartenberg, Andrew Reinhard, and David Hill, participated in the Society’s primary educational program, the Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar in Numismatics, held in June and July, giving lectures and supervising students. Dr. Klaus Vondrovec of the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna was our Visiting Scholar, and again we had our curators emeriti, Michael Bates and Robert Hoge, along with Ted WIthington give lectures as well. (

slide0682016 Erick P. Newman Graduate Seminar
For more info see: https://numismatics.org/seminar/

As usual, Alan Roche went all out to compose and shoot an outstanding class photo.


My own work this year has focused on digital projects including PELLA and getting the new project, Hellenistic Royal Coinages, underway, but also on wrapping up a number of publication projects, including the volume, White Gold, on early electrum coinage that I am co-editing with Ute Wartenberg and Haim Gitler,


and another volume, Art of Devastation, an exhibition catalogue that I am co-editing with Patricia Phagan of Vassar College for a show on WWI medals and posters that we will be unveiling at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar in January.


Return to FY2016 Annual Report