The exhibitions program of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World is driven by its research mission and the fact that it neither has nor plans to acquire an antiquities collection of its own. ISAW exhibits artifacts mainly for their ability to illuminate central questions about ancient cultures, especially issues related to connections between societies, whether religious, economic, political, artistic, or technological. Such investigations typically involve the archaeological contexts of objects. The Department intends to organize a major exhibition and focus exhibition each year. The larger exhibition may include international loans of excavated materials and will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue. The focus exhibitions may highlight one object or a topic that does not necessarily involve object loans. Both types of exhibitions will be complemented by a wide range of public programming, from scholarly conferences and lectures, to broader cultural events that cultivate a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural heritage of the countr(ies) or region(s) with which a given exhibition is concerned.
Each exhibition is normally accompanied by a web presentation that includes highlight images, additional information, bibliography, and more. ISAW maintains these web components even after the target exhibition closes.