Prairie Village native, Princeton junior back in town for prestigious Egyptology conference

Photo courtesy Kimberly M. Wang /
Photo courtesy Kimberly M. Wang /

It’s safe to say that it was a pretty good weekend for Prairie Village native Beth Wang.

Not only did the Princeton University junior get a chance to come home for a few days, but she also had the opportunity to mingle with some of her academic heroes during The American Research Center in Egypt’s Annual Meeting.

When Wang headed off to New Jersey following her graduation from Pembroke Hill a few years ago, she fully intended to focus on Spanish and creative writing. But an archeology course she took on a whim her freshman year changed everything. Studying the details of fine works of art and relics from bygone eras proved a captivating way to explore the human experience.

“I realized that the poetry is all there,” she said.

She declared her major in Princeton’s Department of Art and Archeology, and had a chance to spend part of last summer in Sicily helping excavate a Hellenistic site. But it was Egyptian art history that really captured Wang’s interest, and she decided to focus her research for her junior and senior theses on Egyptology. When her faculty advisor Deborah Vischak, PhD, let her know that this year’s ARCE Annual Meeting was going to be held in Wang’s hometown, she was excited on a number of levels.

“This is where all the latest work in the field is presented, so it’s just an incredible opportunity,” she said. “And I was excited to get to come back home.”

At the conference, Wang had the chance to meet in person the researchers whose works dominated her class reading lists.

“To have them all in one room and be able to shake their hands and get their ideas about their work, it’s just extremely valuable,” she said.

She was also proud of the researchers’ reception to the Egypt collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where the group held some meeting events.

“The Nelson’s Egypt collection is relatively small, but the works are extremely fine and representative,” Wang said. “Everyone who grows up here goes to the Nelson, so it was really exciting to hear from these experts that the collection is so high quality.”

This summer, Wang will get to head to Egypt herself for a six-week stint working in the library of the Theban Mapping Project in Luxor. Wang, who heads back to Princeton today, says she intends to apply to graduate programs in art history and Egyptology and pursue an academic career.