MOA Participates in Blue Star Museums for Second Year


The Museum of Anthropology is pleased to announce the second 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 including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2014.  Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families.  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 Museum of Anthropology will continue to offer free admission to all visitors, we are excited to be able to participate in this program honoring our military personnel and thanking them for their service and sacrifice,” said Interim Assistant Director Sara Cromwell.

“Blue Star Museums has grown into a nationally recognized program that service members and their families look forward to each year,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Offices Kathy Roth-Douquet.  “It helps bring our local military and civilian communities together, and offers families fun and enriching activities in their home towns.  We are thrilled with the continues growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”

This year, more than 2,000 (and counting) museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative.

Kuba Divination Object

Itoom webThis small wooden animal carving is known as an itoom and is used as an object of divination among the Kuba people, who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  When practicing divination, Kuba diviners, called ngwoom, make an inquiry and then rub a small wooden disc with a smooth base and a projecting knob over the back of the itoom.  The answer to the ngwoom’s inquiry is determined by where the disc sticks as it is rubbed across the itoom’s back.  You can see that the back of this carving has been worn down from use.  Common animals represented by itoom are crocodiles, warthogs, lizards, and dogs.  You can see this artifact on display in the new exhibit A Glimpse of Africa: Five Cultures from the Continent.

Kuna Mola

Kuna Mola web

This colorful textile made by the Kuna people of the San Blas Islands in Panama is known as a molaMolas form part of a Kuna woman’s traditional clothing with the brightly colored panels applied to the front and back of a blouse.  Molas are made of several layers of different colored cloth, which are cut away to form the intricate design, in this case a sea turtle.  The layers are then sewn together with nearly invisible stitches.  These textiles are the best-known representation of Kuna culture to outsiders, and to the Kuna people are a symbol of ethnic pride.

Model Kayak


This model of a kayak was made by the Yup’ik people in the Kuskokwim River Valley of Alaska.  It was collected by Moravian missionaries who worked in the area beginning in the late 1880s.  The model kayak is made of seal hide stretched over a wooden framework.  Traditionally, a kayak was a Yup’ik hunter’s most prized possession and a symbol of manhood.  To help identify individual kayaks, men often added unique painted designs or modified the bow or stern shape of the boat.  The Yup’ik used kayaks for seal hunting, fishing, and general transportation.  This model kayak is currently on view in the new exhibit The Yup’ik Way of Life: An Alaskan People in Transition.

MOA Director Leaving for New Post

SteveExhibitWebDr. Stephen L. Whittington has tendered his resignation as Director of the Museum of Anthropology, effective February 28.  He will become Executive Director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colorado, in March.

The Museum’s staff and students have accomplished many things under Whittington’s leadership over the past 12 years including the following highlights:

  • National, regional, and state award-winning publications, exhibits, website, and collections preservation efforts.
  • More than $400,000 in grants from agencies and foundations, including three from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and two from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Digital access to everything in the collections through the Online Artifact and Archives Databases.
  • Vibrant and popular K-12 educational programs that successfully weathered “No Child Left Behind” and changes to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
  • Collections cataloged and inventoried in a safe and secure storage facility.
  • Up-to-date governing documents, including a collections plan, disaster response plan, and statement of ethics.
  • Improved quality and scope of collections through acquisitions, especially the MAW, Rilling, Lam, Salgo, and Wachovia Historical Society donations.
  • Collaborations with Delta Arts Center, Guilford Native American Art Gallery, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, St. Bonaventure University, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District, and Wake Forest departments and offices.
  • Culturally diverse and increasingly empowered Advisory Board.

Regarding his departure, Whittington said, “I want to thank the members of the MOA Advisory Board and MOA Friends for their encouragement and support and Wake Forest University for providing the collections with a safe and secure off-site curation facility.  I particularly want to acknowledge my hard-working and dedicated staff through the years, Beverlye Hancock, Myrna Mackin, Kim Robertson, Anne Gilmore, Sara Cromwell, Kyle Bryner, and Tina Smith, as well as numerous student employees and interns, without whom none of these accomplishments would have been possible.”

Following Whittington’s departure, an interim leadership team will take over his duties.  Sara Cromwell will serve as interim assistant director with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Museum, and Dr. Steven Folmar, assistant professor in the anthropology department, will serve as interim academic director.

Graves Lecture Video Now Available


Dr. Joseph L. Graves Jr. visited Wake Forest University to present “Evolutionary Versus Racial Medicine: Why It Matters” on February 6, 2014.

Dr. Graves is the Associate Dean for Research at the Joint School of Nanoscience & Nanoengineering, North Carolina A&T University and UNC Greensboro.  He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Section G: Biological Sciences and was named to the National Science Foundation’s Sensational Sixty in 2013.  He has published over sixty papers and book chapters and appeared in six documentary films and numerous television interviews.

In his presentation, Dr. Graves discussed the biological and social definitions of race.  He explained how these concepts differ and why conflating the two has had disastrous consequences for biomedical research and clinical practice.  Graves will also discuss why understanding basic evolutionary mechanisms are indispensable for comprehending human biological variation and how these in turn may be applied to addressing ongoing health disparities.

A video of this lecture is now available here.

This event was sponsored by the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Department of Biology, Department of Sociology, American Ethnic Studies Program, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society, Institute for Public Engagement, and Humanities Institute.