By the conclusion of the Spring 2016 semester, half of the Museum of Anthropology’s main exhibits will feature work completed by Wake Forest students in undergraduate classes. Opening three student-curated exhibits this academic year reinforces the important connection between the MOA and Wake Forest students. There is no doubt that the exhibits will also attract interest from members of the community at large drawn to the diverse topics and exceptional artifacts on display.
In the fall, the MOA opened a new long-term exhibit entitled Childhood: Exploring Youth Culture Around the World, which you can read about in detail here.
Another student-curated exhibit, Musical Narratives of the Southwest Pacific Rim, will be on display from March 15 to August 26. This exhibition is the result of three semesters of work by World Music students taught by Wake Forest ethnomusicologist Dr. Elizabeth Clendinning. Highlighting the MOA’s collections of musical instruments, masks, shadow puppets, and dance costumes from Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea, the exhibit will take the visitor on a tour of the performing arts of these regions. The exhibit will examine how music, dance, and theater intersect with storytelling, religious practice, gender roles, and modernization. Visitors will be invited to interact with the exhibit through hands-on music-making with select objects on display.
The “biography” of this antelope mask will be explored in the exhibit.
Finally, MOA Academic Director Dr. Andrew Gurstelle is currently teaching a First Year Seminar on museum studies, which will produce an exhibit exploring the “object biographies” of intriguing specimens in the MOA’s collections. Incredible Journeys: The Life Histories of Museum Objects will be on exhibit from April 19, 2016 to March 25, 2017. The exhibition will trace objects from their original use through the missionaries, traders, soldiers, and doctors that acquired them, the connoisseurs that collected them, and finally how anthropologists (and the Museum) might use them. The exhibit will showcase the range of the MOA’s collections and the diverse trajectories that objects can have.
The MOA staff is excited to be able to work with faculty members with such wide-ranging areas of expertise and such intelligent and motivated students. We look forward to developing more exhibits that will draw from the MOA’s collections and inspire Wake Forest faculty and students as well as the greater Piedmont Triad community.
What do children play with in Mexico? How do kids in Somalia learn to read? The MOA’s new long-term exhibit, Childhood: Exploring Youth Culture Around the World, answers these and other questions about children’s lives around the globe. Among the featured artifacts are an early 20th century Chinese doll in the image of a famous opera singer and a Senegalese lunchbox lined with newspaper comic strips. The exhibit also includes a section for visitors to share comments about their memorable childhood experiences.
Dr. Mary Good in the new exhibit
The exhibition was developed from the work of a Wake Forest class, Anthropology of Childhood, taught by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dr. Mary Good during the spring 2015 semester. Under Dr. Good’s direction, the students each selected objects from the Museum’s collections in the categories of children’s clothing, education, dolls, games, or toys. The students researched their artifacts and wrote label text. Working with Museum staff, Dr. Good developed the remaining exhibit content. This semester, three Wake Forest students completed internships to assist with the exhibit’s installation. “It’s been such a rewarding experience for the students and for me to see their final class project turn into something tangible that museum visitors can learn from and enjoy,” Dr. Good said. “It also helps students to reflect on how they can communicate knowledge they learn in the classroom about cultural diversity to a broader public audience.”
This exhibit marks the first time in the last decade that a Wake Forest class project has been turned into a full exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology, a trend that promises to continue as the MOA increases its collaborations with faculty members in a variety of disciplines across campus.
With the beginning of the fall semester at Wake Forest University, the Museum of Anthropology is very excited to welcome Dr. Andrew Gurstelle as academic director. Andrew is an anthropologist interested in the history and archaeology of West Africa. This interest intersects with museums and heritage in the Atlantic African diaspora, and how African peoples and objects are represented in museums throughout the world. In particular, his research explores how partnerships between international and community museums might be the key to safeguarding African cultural landscapes.
Since 2011, Andrew has been the Director of the Savè Hills Archaeological Research Project—an archaeology and oral-history project investigating the Shabe Yoruba kingdom in the Republic of Benin. Over the course of the project, interest in the research’s findings grew into a collaborative effort between archaeologists, local historians, and school teachers. The project culminated in an exhibition of archaeological findings as part of the 2015 Shabe Cultural Festival. Andrew has also conducted archaeological research in Ghana, Togo, and the Midwest United States.
Before joining the Museum of Anthropology, Andrew also worked on museum exhibitions at the University of Michigan including several on African art, undocumented migration between Mexico and the US, and the history of the Peace Corps. His curatorial work merges with his other research projects, where he has conducted extensive research on West and Central African ritual objects found in museums throughout the world. Andrew received his PhD and MA in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, and his BA in Anthropology and African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He recently moved to Winston-Salem with his wife, Sarah, and son, Asher.
With Andrew’s arrival, the Museum of Anthropology enters a new era in its mission of fostering awareness and understanding of global cultures. Andrew looks forward to building on the Museum’s legacy with new exhibitions and programs that highlight the diversity and dynamism of the peoples represented in the collections. At the same time, Andrew is committed to Wake Forest University’s “teacher-scholar ideal.” His vision for the future includes promoting the Museum’s potential as a resource for anthropological research. “Engaging students, faculty, and community members in collaborative museum research will both enrich our understanding of the world and provide experiences that museum visitors will take with them for the rest of their lives,” explained Andrew.
The Museum of Anthropology thanks all of its campus, community, and alumni partners for their continued support. There are many exciting plans for the future. The Museum will continue to grow and offer new opportunities for learning, exploration, and wonder. We look forward to you joining us!
The Museum of Anthropology’s annual exhibit, Life After Death: The Day of the Dead in Mexico, will be on exhibit this year from September 15 to December 11. As Day of the Dead imagery becomes more and more prevalent in Halloween decorations and costumes in the United States, this bilingual exhibit provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the cultural significance, history, and folk art associated with the unique celebration.
As always, the centerpiece of the exhibit is a traditional Mexican ofrenda, an altar with food and beverage offerings, flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and photos of deceased family members. The exhibit also includes a children’s ofrenda with toys and snacks, a wide selection of Day of the Dead folk art, and a photo essay illustrating the celebration in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. The Museum welcomes patrons to contribute to the exhibit by placing photos of deceased family and friends on the altar. The exhibit presents text in English and Spanish.
For the second year, the Museum will present a Day of the Dead Excursion in partnership with the Hispanic League and Sawtooth School for Visual Art. The event will be held on Saturday, October 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The program will include a presentation and in-depth guided tour of the Life After Death exhibit at the MOA, an authentic Mexican lunch, and a Day of the Dead mask-making workshop at the Sawtooth School with veteran mask maker Martina Moore. Participants will have the option of displaying their masks in the Museum for the remainder of the exhibit. The excursion is open to ages 14 and over. Visit sawtooth.org for information and to register. We hope to see you this fall!
This exhibit has been extended through December 11!
This summer’s featured exhibit, MOA’s Cabinet of Curiosities, evokes the setting of an original cabinet of curiosities, a privately held collections of exotic and extraordinary objects. These collections, also known as wunderkammern, or wonder rooms, first appeared in mid-sixteenth century Europe and can be seen as the precursors to modern museums. They often included objects related to many different disciplines, including fine art, natural history, and anthropology. The MOA’s exhibit features a wide range of ethnographic and archaeological artifacts, showcasing the diversity of the Museum’s permanent collection, while providing detailed information on the objects and cultures.
MOA student employee Lindsay Gilliland and Interim Assistant Director Sara Cromwell examine a crocodile fetish from Papua New Guinea in MOA’s Cabinet of Curiosities.
MOA’s Cabinet of Curiosities was curated by student employees Lindsay Gilliland, Irene Kim, Madeline Stone, and Olivia Whitener, along with Salem College intern Kerri Howell under the direction of Interim Assistant Director Sara Cromwell and Museum Educator Tina Smith. The students visited the MOA’s collections storage to select objects that they thought were the most interesting. They then conducted research and wrote label text that was compiled into an exhibit guidebook. The project provided the students with real world experience and insight into the many steps of creating an exhibit. Lindsay Gilliland called the experience “by far one of the most interesting things I’ve done at Wake Forest.”
With objects ranging from life-sized brass leopards to Aboriginal dot paintings, from an Egyptian mummy casing to a necklace of human teeth, and from Amazonian poison darts to Kachina dolls, the exhibit is sure to inspire curiosity about peoples and cultures around the world.
Earlier this week, the Museum was featured on the 12 o’clock news on 600 AM WSJS, a local talk radio station. Interim Assistant Director Sara Cromwell was interviewed about our two featured exhibits, Understanding Our Past, Shaping Our Future and At Home on the Plains. In case you missed it, you can listen to the audio below.