SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Walter Widrig | Founder Houston Society Archaeological Institute of America

The Archaeological Institute of America ~ Houston Society is delighted to feature a talk by one of our co-founders – Dr. Walter Widrig at a fundraising event co-sponsored by the Antiquarium.  This year, AIA Houston Society celebrates our 50th anniversary with the theme “Sankofa” which literally translates as “return to seek, to fetch, to take.”  Dr. Widrig’s talk titled, “The Past is the Future”, reflects on the need and importance of studying the past to build a successful future.  Now, more than ever, in a period of worldwide conflict and division, the study of the past is crucial if we are to find our way forward.  Archaeology holds the keys to the study of the past and works to help preserve knowledge of the heritage of world cultures.

Walter Widrig came to Rice University in 1969 from the University of St. Thomas, and was chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Rice from 1982-1985.

Philip Oliver Smith (left) and Walter Widrig

In the summer of 1955, Walter was a law student who wanted to be a diplomat.  A three-month trip to Italy changed everything.  Climbing through ancient temples and marveling at Roman frescos, a passion was kindled.  Teaching art history and archaeology to a next generation became his life work.

For thirty-one years, Professor Widrig’s areas of expertise in Roman and early Christian art and architecture was shared with students.  As part of his research, Professor Widrig participated in excavations at three churches in Libya and Cyrenaica and did archaeological site investigations in Italy, Libya, Cyprus, Syria, Jordan, the Balkans, Turkey, and Tunisia. A private concession was given to Dr. Widrig by the Italian government for the Via Gabina project in 1976; fourteen seasons of digging followed that incorporated the talents of students at Rice, changing and enriching their lives.

It wasn’t all work! A gelato break with Dr. Widrig (left) and Dr. Philip Oliver Smith

Dr. Widrig is an Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Knight of the Republic of Italy, and recipient of the Alumni Gold Medal for Meritorious Service to Rice University. He was honored by the creation of the Amici di Via Gabina Traveling Fellowship by students who excavated at Via Gabina.

We are proud to salute the life, work, and values of our founder and cordially invite you join us for an extraordinary evening at the Antiquarium

January 11, 6:30-8:30pm

3021 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX  77098

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Wine and light refreshment will be served.     Space limited!!

Please rsvp to


The Archaeological Institute will receive 10% of all unframed art sales during the event.   

The Antiquarium is passionate about helping families, businesses, and institutions build meaningfulcollections while preserving important cultural artifacts. Founded in 1990 and family owned, The Antiquarium is Houston and the Southwest’s leading resource for original antique prints and maps, one-of-a-kind gifts, and the highest quality custom framing. Its inventory spans more than six centuries of human thought and endeavor and includes museum quality items from the Middle Ages to Art Deco.