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!