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University Museums. Unique role of the University Museum. University museums and collections serve the university's missions of research, teaching and public service, which correspond to the user groups of students, faculty and non-academics (staff and public audiences).

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University Museums


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    1. University Museums

    2. Unique role of the University Museum • University museums and collections serve the university's missions of research, teaching and public service, which correspond to the user groups of students, faculty and non-academics (staff and public audiences). • What is the power and impact for students, of direct experiences with collections/works of art and other collections? • What are major education issues of collections, exhibits, student audiences and faculty research?

    3. History of university museum • Began in Renaissance Europe, Cabinet of Curiosities, princely collections amassed privately, and privately displayed, as part of gentleman's education in the 16th and 17th centuries. The goal to collect objects representing all the world's knowledge in one room. • Earliest university museum was the Ashmolean, founded in 1683 at Oxford University. Well known to 18th-century English immigrants to the American colonies; served as model for earliest American university museums. The 18th C, museum collections based on this example at Harvard, Dartmouth Bowdoin College, and others. Most have been dispersed; included mixed collections of art and natural history objects such as those in the Cabinet of Curiosities. • First university art museum was established at Yale in 1831-32 with gift from artist John Trumbull, who gave a large group of his own historical paintings in exchange for a life annuity. Yale provided a gallery to house it.

    4. History of university museum - continued • Philadelphia Museum, established in the 1780s by the artist Charles Wilson Peale on the Cabinet of Curiosities model, for the public. The museum charged admission; this was a for-profit enterprise, from which Peale expected to generate enough revenue to keep up the museum and pay his staff. • In 1836, the United States received bequest from Englishman James Smithson, for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge." Congress spent 10 years debating how it could be done, at first focused on founding a national university. But this was rejected (they felt a university might diffuse, but would not increase knowledge!). Led to establishment of Smithsonian Institution, a museum (or group of museums and research institutes) as best way to accomplish this goal. • In the post-Civil War era, by the 1870s the “Museum Movement” arose. Into the 1890s the great public museums in this country were founded, including the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Natural History in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum.

    5. History of university museum - continued • During 1876-1926, museums seen as key contributors to new knowledge and research, not universities. • "Museum Movement:” museums would be key producers of new knowledge in our rapidly industrializing and urbanizing nation. • 1920s the scientific and natural history fields that had depended on specimens of various kinds (that had to be collected and housed and preserved in museums) had evolved in ways that made such specimens much less central to research, and thus the stand-alone museums lost their central importance, though original art objects did not lose their relevance in the same way (interesting example: the Glass Flowers at Botanical Museum) • The academic teaching of art and art history continued to rely on original objects much more than these other disciplines.

    6. History of university museum - continued • Late 19th century universities felt that museums were important to their teaching and research mission, especially in light of the emphasis on museums as important teaching institutions. • For example, at the University of Chicago's founding in 1892, museums were recognized as essential components of a university of the highest intellectual caliber. Two of the first buildings constructed were museums: the Walker Museum for Natural History and the Haskell Oriental Museum for religious artifacts from the ancient Near East. • The Walker's collections transferred to the Field Museum in the 1950s, as they were no longer essential for university teaching and research; the Haskell's collections were transferred in 1931 to the new Oriental Institute, which remains to this day a research institute for the study of ancient Near Eastern culture on the University of Chicago campus.

    7. History of university museum - continued • First university art museum, the Yale University Art Gallery established in the 1830s, followed by Vassar in 1863 and Mount Holyoke in 1875. Princeton (1882), Stanford (1885), Wellesley (1889), and Harvard (1895), appear when the Museum Movement was well advanced. • University art museums built collections for teaching and research in the field of studio art and the emerging discipline of art history. Thought to give students an opportunity to develop into more cultivated, well-rounded and well-educated adults through contact with original works of art in a university campus setting. • Motivation grew stronger in the twentieth century during the expansion of higher education after World War II

    8. History of university museum - continued • Laurence Vail Coleman, Director of the American Association of Museums, published in 1942, College and University Museums wrote: • Universities must have museums, both art museums and natural history and science museums, to hold and make available the collections that are essential for teaching (in a college) and research (in a university) in the related fields. • University museums are laboratories and they are essential for any serious institution. • Collections must be accessible, and housed in proximity to classrooms, and the buildings that house them must be "museum-like" in their aspect, and different from other university buildings.

    9. History of university museum - continued • Stressed advantage of having a professor in the relevant subject manage the museum, to ensure that its mission remained close to the teaching and research mission. • Cautioned that likely to be unsuccessful if professor has no knowledge or experience of museum management; • Collections likely to suffer or even disappear. Advocated for someone with professional museum experience be put in charge, but that person should also be capable of teaching, research, and participating in relevant department, so close connection maintained • Model still strongest for university museum management, especially as museums have grown and become more complex and specialized operations, and as their collections have increased in value.

    10. Still relevant… • Coleman cautions against orienting the museum too much to the public at the expense of the primary university constituency. • (p. 5): “The first duty of a university or college museum is to its parent establishment, which means that the faculty and student body have a claim prior to that of the townspeople and outsiders in general. Public service, including cooperation with schools and other work for children, is no more the first business of a college museum than of a college library. There are campus museums run by people interested wholly in the public, people whose enthusiasm for this kind of good work will listen to no question of whether their efforts are appropriate to the place in which they hold forth. There are campus museums, also, that try to be all things to all men; but unless such museums are conspicuously useful in their proper work - that is, work with students - they are inadequate, and no extenuating circumstance can alter that fact. “

    11. Discussion points: • Are university museums and some collections no longer relevant or useful? • Are most objects held in academic collections still actively used in research and in the classroom? • Dividing lines among collections in individual faculty laboratories, departmental teaching collections and fully-fledged university museums blurry. Example of Dr. Maryellen Ruvolo at Harvard who collects blood samples and increasingly uses MCZ collections for DNA samples • University museums are full of objects, specimens and artifacts that entered the university in the course of faculty research and teaching activities. i.e., Wrangham’s chimp doll

    12. More discussion points: • In justifying the relevance (and even the continued existence) of university collections, ongoing utility in relation to the teaching and research missions very important, as Cuno pointed out years ago. Still true today. • This multiplicity of collections creates challenges and opportunities that are part of the unique culture and history of university museums. Recent pairing of art and natural history at the MCZ/Harvard Museum of Natural History. • How do collections respond to changes in their user communities, to conflicting demands by different user groups, or to changing research technologies? • Collections of historical scientific instruments good example of artifacts that have shifted from being research tools (in the sciences) to objects of research themselves (in the humanities). How can these transformations be encouraged? Are there other examples of renewed scholarly or scientific activity that have resulted from new museum initiatives? (Dioramas in anthropology museums)

    13. More discussion points: • What are new models for developing the research and teaching potential of museum collections for diverse user communities ? • Disciplines change over time, asking new questions, employing new methods and exploring new objects; the relationships of material collections to their disciplines also shift. How have these changes affected the research potential of collections. I.E., the emergence of increasingly sophisticated forms of DNA analysis, which have changed not only the nature of cladistics but also transformed the relevance and viability of natural history collections. • Interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary collaborations are now at the forefront of most research, even in the humanities. How have such collaborative research programs affected the use of collections? • How are collections used for teaching? Are there accessibility issues that must be solved? (Case of Haffenreffer at Brown) In particular, how are they made available to undergraduates for research as well as teaching or display purposes? Are there instances where public or community groups become involved in the teaching or research functions of the museum? How can university museums and collections best convey the findings of current research to students and the general public? Can and should the research mission of a museum be integrated into its public mission?

    14. More discussion points: • Where are university collections and museums placed within the administrative structure of the university? • Are they allied to one particular department or discipline, or are they freestanding in their research affiliations? • How has administrative placement affected research uses, demands by different user groups, and other functions of the museum? • How can collections make themselves more visible to new scholars and students so that they can maximize their research potential?

    15. Smith’s example: Education Resources for College Faculty The Smith College Museum of Art's premier collection of modern western art, along with major holdings of African, Latin American, and Asian art, provide an extensive resource for teaching. • Classes from any college are welcome to visit our galleries and the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs from once a semester to every week. • Museum staff are available to help faculty access the museum’s resources and to plan and/or conduct museum visits. Several special resources are available: • Faculty may incorporate the museum’s lectures and tours as part of a course. • Special teaching facilities allow works from storage to be accessed for class use. • Arrangements may be made for the museum’s guest artists and speakers to visit a class. • On occasion, and as part of a longer-term planning process, an exhibition may be mounted in support of a course, or a class may organize an exhibition. • The museum also offers many ways for Smith students to extend their academic preparation through internships, volunteer opportunities, and special programs and eve

    16. Course Development Stipends from Smith College • Overview:  The Smith College Museum of Art invites proposals from Smith faculty in any discipline to engage the resources of the Smith College Museum of Art in their teaching.  Faculty developing or significantly revising courses receive a stipend as well as supplemental funding to reimburse for expenses such as supplies or guest lecturers needed to teach the course.  Supplemental funding for course materials is available to faculty wishing to repeat prior museum-based courses. • Types of funding available:Stipends are provided for the planning of a museum-based course, which is to be completed during the summer prior to the academic year when the class will be taught. The amount of the stipend is commensurate to the depth and degree to which the museum will be incorporated into the course, up to a maximum of $3500. Supplemental funds of up to $750 are available to purchase materials, take field trips, or bring guest speakers to Smith, etc.

    17. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: Faculty Access • The Peabody Museum welcomes the opportunity to work with faculty to explore and study collections in their courses. Museum collections are currently used in courses across nineteen different departments at Harvard University. Interactions with Peabody Museum collections take place at the Museum and can include the following options:  • Museum objects in the classroom. The Museum will deliver collections for in-classroom discussion in the Museum. If your course does not regularly meet at the Museum, we can make arrangements for your students to meet in our facilities with a specific group of objects. • Storage visits. Small groups of students can participate in Museum storage visits to view specific collections housed at the Peabody Museum. • Exhibit tours. Faculty may request tours of exhibits led by a member of the curatorial staff. • Teaching displays. Short-term exhibits that feature Museum collections chosen around a theme or topic related to a course can be installed on the third-floor teaching gallery of the Museum. Teaching Displays work especially well for large classes or sections. • Portfolios of Museum objects listed online. The Museum can create specialized web listings of Museum objects that can be directly linked to your course iSite. To see examples, click here. • Scheduling Class Visits, Research, & Tours • Two weeks' advance notice is required for scheduling class visits, research, and tours. Teaching displays require one-month advance notice.

    18. Georgia College & State University's Natural History Museum The Georgia College Natural History Museum is an academic and research treasure for students, faculty, and the public in the southeastern United States. Faculty and students of the university have been working hard to add to the natural history collection for over 25 years. Since 1988, researchers from around the United States have visited Georgia College to conduct research in our collections of fossil and modern vertebrates, fossil and modern plants, fossil invertebrates, and insects.     In 2004, the university opened the doors to a 2,500 square foot Museum and to date, almost 10,000 visitors have been introduced to topics in earth sciences, emphasizing paleontology. The National Park Service has recognized our commitment to paleontological research by joining with our museum in a cooperative agreement and memorandum of understanding. Today, the Natural History Museum is recognized as an official repository for National Park Service specimens. These agreements provide partial funding for paleontological fieldwork and benefit our students through expanded learning opportunities in the national parks via field work, internships, and employment.         Faculty Associates of the Natural History Museum and their students have generated more than 100 scholarly works and as a result have hosted several professional meetings. Another major accomplishment is the acquisition and implementation of a full-dome planetarium, featuring state of the art graphic projection. The new Planetarium is equipped to provide educational programs and entertaining shows about astronomy and the night sky. • School-age children, teachers, university students, faculty and the public participate in programs that inspire the next generation of scientific explorers.

    19. Wellesley College Davis Museum and Cultural Center The University Museum mission: One of the oldest and most acclaimed academic fine arts museums in the United States, the Davis Museum and Cultural Center is a vital force in the intellectual, pedagogical and social life of Wellesley College.  It seeks to create an environment that cultivates critical thinking, inspires new ideas and fosters involvement with the arts both within the College and the larger community.