Week 4: Museum Anthropology


Snow days cannot hold us back! I’m Rachel Miller, an Anthropology and Biology student here at UA and am happy to be part of the UA Partnership at TMSE. I am happy to report that we are back on track after having a few unexpected snow days over the past few weeks. Today we covered Museum Anthropology. After spending some time on Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology, this was the perfect way to apply learned information.

Our students learned various aspects of museum and artifact handling for this week’s lesson. Students were broken up into groups and each student was to act as a curator for their individual artifact.

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Here is Sally helping a student identify a conch shell.

In order to become curators, students filled out a notecard to go alongside their artifact. The students had to identify material, color, size, place of origin (if possible), and a description for their artifact.

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Here are a group of students examining their individual artifacts.

The purpose of filling out the descriptive cards is two-fold. For one, those who are viewing the artifact are able to take note of quantitative and descriptive details of the item. For instance, they are able to see if the item is a ceramic, shell, or stone type item. One the other hand, the descriptive cards are essential for those who cannot see the artifact in person. The card is a way to paint a picture of the item without necessarily having to have it right in front of you. These cards are great for people who are conducting research in the field. Typically, research requires you to go and look at various entities first hand (usually in museums or collections all across the country). These cards help researchers make a decision whether or not these items are what they need to conduct their research.

The students concluded their lesson by putting their items on display and turning the classroom into a museum. This exercise emphasized the importance of detail that anthropologists must have when documenting artifacts as they travel from their original site all the way to a collection.

Stay tuned for next week’s session!

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