Museum to Close for the Month of August

Thanks to the generosity of the University administration and the MOA Friends, the Museum will undertake two renovation projects this August, resulting in the temporary closure of the galleries from July 31 to September 4.  The first project is a complete remodel of the front desk area of the Museum.  The existing built-in furniture will be replaced with a new front desk and student work space that will have a smaller footprint and result in more flexible use space.  The entire Museum will also be re-carpeted as part of this project.  Secondly, during this time, the permanent exhibit space that currently houses How Do They Know? The Science of Archaeology in the Yadkin River Valley will be renovated.  The exhibit will taken down and the gallery will be modified to prepare it for the installation of a new permanent exhibit covering the four fields of anthropology in North Carolina.  The Museum staff will be working regular hours during this time period and can be contacted by phone or email.


MOA to Participate in Blue Star Museums for Fifth Year

The Museum of Anthropology is pleased to announce the fifth year of its participation in Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America offering free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017.  The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after a military move.  The complete list of participating museums is available at

Although the MOA will continue to offer free admission to all visitors, the staff is excited to be able to participate in this program honoring our military personnel and thanking them for their service and sacrifice.

“The Blue Star Museums program is a great opportunity for the NEA to team up with local museums in every state in the nation to support our service members and their families,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “It means a lot to offer these families access to high-quality, budget-friendly opportunities to spend time together.”

“Whether they want to blast off at a science museum, take a walk through nature, or encounter animals at the aquarium, Blue Star Museums will help service members and their families create memories this summer,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roth-Douquet. “This fantastic collaboration with the NEA brings our local military and civilian communities together, and offers families fun and enriching activities in their home towns. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”


MOA Welcomes Collections Manager Stormy Harrell

At the beginning of April, Stormy Harrell joined the Museum of Anthropology staff as the collections manager.  Stormy has a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Alaska, a M.A. in Mesolithic Archaeology from the University of York (UK), and a Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies from Newcastle University (UK).  She came to Wake Forest from the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee, Florida, where she held the positions of museum curator and assistant registrar.  At the MOA, Stormy now manages the nearly 30,000 objects in the collections, almost 8,000 archival pieces, and the Museum’s research library.  She is responsible for access to the collection, both in person and online, as well as donations, research, and preservation.  Stormy will also collaborate with other staff members on exhibit curation and installation.  Additionally, she will supervise interns interested in collections management.  After several years without a collections manager, the MOA staff is excited about the opportunities available for increased use of the collections with Stormy as a member of the organization.  The Museum’s collection is available to view online here.


MOA Introduces New Summer Programming

The Museum of Anthropology staff is pleased to announce a new types of programming centered on global cultures this summer.  In place of summer camp, the Museum will offer four Pre-K programs and four teen programs on Mondays and two all-ages workshops on Sundays in June and July, each exploring a different topic.   The staff is excited about the opportunity to provide more diverse programming and reach broader audiences.  Complete details on the Museum’s summer schedule of programs can be found here or on our events calendar.

Artists Find Inspiration in MOA Collections

The Museum of Anthropology’s collections of nearly 30,000 objects provide an outstanding resource for people, both in the Wake Forest community and the general public, interested in investigating any number of cultures through ethnographic and archaeological artifacts. Research in the collections has been increasing recently with a 2016 anthropology honors thesis about one of our Yu’pik belts and a number of recent exhibits featuring Wake Forest student research on individual objects. The MOA collections, however, can also serve as inspiration for artists in their own work and in the revival of traditional crafts.

A WFU Art student poses with her drawings and the mask that inspired them.

A WFU Art student poses with her drawings and the mask that inspired them.

One such project came from a collaboration with Leigh Ann Hallberg, a faculty member in the Wake Forest University Department of Art. This past fall, students in Hallberg’s Intermediate and Advanced Drawing classes used objects from the Museum’s collections as inspiration for their works of art. The students selected objects including a Japanese kimono, a Tibetan horse bridle, an African rat trap, and a mask from Papua New Guinea as models for their charcoal drawings. The art was later displayed at Wake Forest’s START Gallery in Reynolda Village, showcasing this special partnership.

The MOA staff has also worked with metalsmith William Rogers, who specializes in reproducing historic hammered copper.  As part of an effort to revive metalworking among members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Rogers collaborated with the Cherokee Historical Society on a project to add metalworking to the demonstration offerings of the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a living history museum. The site is a re-creation of a typical village in the 1750s, with members of the Eastern Band as interpreters demonstrating a variety of traditional activities and crafts.

TOP: A copper bell from the MOA collection. BOTTOM: A new Cherokee copper piece with similar bells.

TOP: A copper bell from the MOA collection.
BOTTOM: A new Cherokee copper piece with similar bells.

Rogers first focused on research to determine what types of metalwork were done by Cherokee people.  It was during this phase that he visited the Museum of Anthropology to examine NC Native American copper artifacts in our collection. Rogers also visited several other museums and together these prehistoric and historic copper pieces provided the inspiration for Cherokee designs that are being taught to the demonstrators, reproduced, and sold in the Village gift shop.  Thanks to the opportunity to study MOA’s artifacts, Rogers’ project ensured that the revival of this traditional Cherokee craft is authentic and produces interesting and beautiful pieces. Rogers will present a workshop teaching these methods of creating copper designs at the Museum of Anthropology on October 9, 2017.


The Museum is proud to be able to offer these opportunities to inspire artists and provide examples of authentic artifacts. At any given time only approximately one percent of the Museum’s entire collection is on exhibit. So, for those interested in exploring it in depth, the collection is showcased in the MOA’s comprehensive online database, providing an easily accessible introduction point. The Museum is also in the process of hiring a collections manager, which will make the collections even more accessible to researchers, artists, and any other interested parties.


MOA Highlights Gullah Art and Culture

This fall, the Museum of Anthropology presents a unique collaboration in the form of a new exhibit: Visions of Home: A Celebration of Gullah Art and Culture, which will be on display August 30, 2016 through April 22, 2017.

Home has personal significance and meaning.  The idea of home can encompass leaving, losing, finding, making, enjoying, remembering.  Home may be a journey, a place, an object, a landscape, people, creatures, a hope, a memory, and more.  Through the contemporary art and ethnographic artifacts featured in the exhibit, home is envisioned as a patchwork of places, histories, and identities by the Gullah people of the southeastern Atlantic coast.  The exhibit features original works by Sea Islands artists from the Red Piano Too Gallery, as well as works by Wake Forest University Assistant Professor Katherine Ziff, and objects from the Museum of Anthropology’s collection.

Dandylion Gillins webx

Dandylion, Cassandra Gillins

The Red Piano Too Art Gallery, located adjacent to the historic Penn Center of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, represents an eclectic and unique collection of Southern artists, particularly those who call the Sea Islands home. The artists submitted 57 pieces of two- and three-dimensional works in response to a call for art from the Museum this spring.  In June, the Museum staff traveled to St. Helena Island to collect the loaned art, meet gallery owner Mary Inabinett Mack, and experience the landscape firsthand.


Bisimbi, Katherine Ziff

Bisimbi, Katherine Ziff

The Red Piano Too artists’ work is shown within the context of arts-based research by WFU Department of Counseling Assistant Professor Katherine Ziff that reflects upon the traumatic experience of enslaved Africans.  In the New World, they found a way, through a religious and cultural affinity with nature (in the form of water spirits known as the simbi), to creatively embody home in the Lowcountry of the Carolinas.  The exhibit features five of Katherine’s original prints.  These contemporary works are paired with a selection of Central and West African objects from the Museum of Anthropology’s permanent collection.

The MOA will present programing related to the exhibit throughout its run beginning with a reception for MOA Friends on September 30.  A panel discussion is scheduled for November 9, at which scholars will elaborate on the themes of the exhibit and offer their personal reflections.  During the spring semester, the Museum will host a screening of Daughters of the Dust, a 1991 Sundance Festival award-winning film about Gullah life in the Sea Islands, an academic lecture, and a family-friendly workshop.  Additional details about these events will be coming soon.