I’m excited to share that I’m taking on the role of Curator of Archaeology at the MSU Museum on August 15th. I’ve always been peripherally involved in the MSU Museum through grant funded projects and as an Adjunct Curator of Anthropology, but this curatorial appointment represents a significant increase in my work with the museum. I’ll be working on exhibit and public programming around archaeology and the archaeological collections; facilitating engagement with the collections by students (including my own students), scholars, and communities; and ensuring that the collections are properly, thoughtfully, and ethically cared for, stewarded, curated, and managed. It will also come as no great surprise to anyone that I’m eager to find opportunities to create and sustain thoughtful digital interventions that will increase engagement with the collections – especially around augmented reality (which I’ve previously worked with the Museum on), physical computing, and mobile and place-baed digital experiences. I’ll also be spending a portion of my time as curator working on a plan for collections digitization, preservation, and access – starting with the archaeology collections. We’ve already been doing some 3D digitization of the archaeology collections in my lab, but nothing serious or systematic. As curator I’ll be in a position to work with other collections staff and senior museum leadership to create a collections digitization plan that is thoughtful, ethical, practical, and sustainable. These efforts will also articulate with my long held interest in digitizing, preserving, and providing federated access to collections from across the entire university…but thats a conversation for another day.
I’m assuming this role at a time of great change for the Museum. The Museum has a new (ish) director, a new strategic plan and identity (including a rededication to primarily serving the university community), a new institutional organization (including the creation of an entirely new position, Director of Collection, which was recently filled by Mary Worrall), some major and desperately needed renovations on the horizon (including an exciting reimagining of the entire first floor of the Museum), and a new archaeology collections manager (who we hope to have hired by the end of the summer or the early fall).
The Department of Anthropology has been symbiotically intertwined with the MSU Museum since the early 1960s. Over the years, we’ve invested heavily in stewarding and interpreting the archaeology collections. Curation and management has historically been provided by an archaeology faculty member and an academic staff member appointment by the department. As the new Curator of Archaeology, I’m following in the immediate footsteps of the wonderful Dr. Jodie O’Gorman who served as curator for several years before her recent retirement. I’m also benefitting enormously from the work of Dr. Jessica Yann, who serves as MSU’s NAGPRA Program Coordinator and who has also been graciously filling the role of Archaeology Collections Manager for several years. I’m so happy to be the next in this long lineage and to continue to uphold the productive and fruitful collaborative relationship between the MSU Museum and the Department of Anthropology.
Like most archaeologists, I’m a museum nerd of herculean proportions. I grew up visiting the Royal Saskatchewan Museum nearly every weekend. My scholarly passion for Ancient Egypt was sparked when I first gazed upon the Temple of Dendur as an 10 year old on a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my father (also an archaeologist). When my son was growing up, we’d visit the MSU Museum nearly every weekend. The entirety of my professional life (and a lot of my personal life) has been wrapped up in visiting museums, working with museums, working in museums, teaching about museums, teaching in museums, thinking about museums, and doing my bit to advancing the mission of museums and heritage institutions. These institutions are in my blood and have contributed so much to the kind of archaeologist I am. To play a more central role in my own campus museum is wildly exciting, and I very much looking forward to bringing my own work to the space.
Look for an official MSU Museum press release (which will hopefully also include news on our new Archaeology Collections Manager) as we get a little closer to the middle of August.