Friday, March 20, 2015

MUAN 38.1 "Continued Conversations" Web-Exclusive Content: James Dixon Interview Part 1

In Musuem Anthropology 38.1, co-editors Maxine McBrinn and Tony Chavarria conducted interviews with museum anthropologists working within the university setting. This web-exclusive content adds to their collection of interviews published in the journal. 

This interview is with Dr. James Dixon, Director, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This Part 1 of 2

1. Describe your job.
As director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology at University of New Mexico (UNM) I provide administrative leadership for the Museum.  I am responsible for the management of all aspects of the Museum’s programs, resources and services including fiscal management and personnel.  In my role as professor I also serve on a variety of academic committees, teach courses, mentor graduate students, conduct research, and publish.

2. How does being associated with a university assist your job and institution?
One of the great benefits of being at a university is interaction with students, particularly graduate students. They are a great asset to the Museum and its programs.  Their enthusiasm and talent improves the quality of what we do.

3. Does being associated with a university add challenges to your job?
Yes, administrating a museum within a state university system is challenging.  University administrators are not familiar with museums.  Many do not understand their relevance to the university mission.  Because they are familiar only with methods that measure success based on classroom instruction and enrollment statistics, it is takes constant effort to educate them to ensure they understand the essential role of museums in institutions of higher education. 

4. How do university students interact with the museum?

The Museum provides unique educational opportunities in terms of experiential learning in both anthropology and museum studies.  Faculty and staff facilitate these learning opportunities and as a result work closely with many students on a daily basis. Museum and non-museum faculty teach formal classes, offer practica, and provide independent study opportunities for a wide variety of students.  Students also interact by participating in museum programs, events, and exhibitions.

Monday, March 09, 2015

MUAN 38.1 "Continued Conversations" Web-Exclusive Content: Jill Minar Interview Part 2

In Musuem Anthropology 38.1, co-editors Maxine McBrinn and Tony Chavarria conducted interviews with museum anthropologists working within the university setting. This web-exclusive content adds to the collection of interviews published in the journal. 

This interview is with Dr. Jill Minar, Instructor of Anthropology/Archaeology in the Anthropology, Economics, and Geography Department, Social Sciences Division at Fresno City College in Fresno, California. This is Part 2 of 2. 

5. Do you think students take full advantage of having museums on campus?  
No.  On our campus most students are not aware of the museums on campus and so do not frequent them.  In trying to resolve this issue, we had a mural painted on the outside of our building space, added two large signs, one on the campus mall side of our building and one on the museum wall.  Since then we have had an increase in the visitors to the museum.  

6. Does the university have a Museum Studies program? If so, how does that influence your answers to the above?
No, we do not have a Museum Studies program.  Fresno City College has tried to have some museum courses (in anthropology and art) as we have several museums/galleries on campus.  The need to have very small class sizes (low interest combined with hands-on instruction) made this impossible in these days of strict budgets.  

7. Do you reach out to students outside the university?
Fresno City College has an active outreach program to the school districts in Fresno and the surrounding communities, working to bring young people from preschool through high school to the college campus.  We are in a community that suffers from high dropout rates in high school, families who have no experience with college education, and high poverty levels.  The goal of the outreach program is to give young people a chance to see what a college is like and to become acquainted with the campus with the hope that they will see a college education as part of their future.  As part of this outreach, various departments on campus provide tours to the visiting students.  The Museum of Anthropology participates in this outreach by providing tours of the museum to visiting school groups throughout the school year.  Currently, given our lack of paid staff and low budget, these school group tours already stretch our ability to meet the need and so no further outreach is done by the museum to the community on a regular basis.  The museum has held open house events, workshops, and tours for special occasions for which we do advertise to the greater Fresno area.  We have been featured in the local paper and had a television program broadcast from the museum in the past few years.

8. What do you see in the future for university associated museums?

In my opinion, there is a very strong and vibrant future for university/college associated museums especially if museums focus on engaging students in the functioning of the museum.  Important connections can be made when students are able see their academic studies in action and where they can actually participate in making that happen. Even given all the administrative headaches, I see that our museum provides something that is lacking in other areas of our campus: it provide a place where students connect with each other and with faculty.  They are engaged in, are connected to and are part of, a community.  According to our campus basic skills faculty, these are important to student success.  On the museum side, having a steady stream of engaged students who want to work or volunteer keeps things lively.  In recent years when budgets were slashed, our student docents pitched in and helped to keep the museum open many more hours than would have been possible otherwise.  They had learned the value of their contribution to our campus community and gave of their time and talents to keep it going.  I expect that these students will carry their passion for museums on into the places where they end up living and working after college – they represent the next generation of museum advocates in our communities. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

Position Announcement: Collections Manager, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Position Summary
Manages and cares for a large, complex archeological and ethnological collection. Collaborates in the development and implementation of collection management policies and procedures; directly manages the acquisition, documentation, preservation and growth of museum collections and associated materials. Updates the specimen-based database, prepares reports, grant proposals and research papers. Supervises curatorial assistants, volunteers and field technicians. Interacts with public, university and professional community through tours, teaching, lectures, presentations, and publishing papers.

This is a benefits eligible position. The University of New Mexico provides a comprehensive package of benefits including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance. In addition, UNM offers educational benefits through the tuition remission and dependent education programs.

Minimum Qualifications:
Master's degree; at least 5 years of experience that is directly related to the duties and responsibilities specified.

Preferred Qualifications:
-M.A. or Ph.D. in museum studies or anthropology
-Previous museum collections education or training including collection management policies and procedures 

For more information: click here

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Iraqi Art Emerges From Rubble of War

Tamer El-Ghobashyu, The Wall Street Journal
March 1, 2014

The three friends, all college students majoring in pharmaceuticals, walked slowly through the airy galleries of Iraq’s National Museum, pausing to study the details of several enormous marble sculptures.

“I can’t believe this is my first time seeing this,” said Naz Ibrahim, 23 years old. “This is wonderful.”

Iraq’s National Museum, which became a symbol of national mourning when it was ransacked by mobs during the 2003 American-led invasion of Baghdad, reopened to the public for the first time Sunday, the latest in a string of both mundane and significant attempts by Iraqis to return to normalcy.

Although the museum, which had some 15,000 pieces looted after the arrival of American troops, was scheduled to be reopened in the coming weeks, recent cultural destruction by the militant group Islamic State gave Iraq’s government new urgency.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the museum was opened ahead of schedule to counter the pain wrought by videos released on Thursday by Islamic State that purported to show militants taking sledgehammers to Assyrian artifacts in the Mosul Museum.

The footage from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and one which the militant group has controlled since June, sent shockwaves within Iraq and around the world. Art experts later said it appeared many of the destroyed pieces were likely replicas.

Still, the trauma was palpable among a trickle of visitors who arrived at the Baghdad landmark on Sunday, paying 1,500 dinars ($1.25) to enter and stroll through the freshly renovated halls.

“I had to come after what I saw from Mosul,” said Sawsan Munem, 23, who accompanied Ms. Ibrahim and another friend. “So many things go missing or are destroyed by war. I don’t want to risk never seeing them for myself.”

More here

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Position Announcement: Managing Editor, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Denver, Colorado

The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, in collaboration with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), is seeking a full­-time Managing Editor for an exciting new venture to create an online anthropological news portal, aiming to popularize and publicize anthropological research to an international audience. The Managing Editor will be part of an editorial team, headed by Dr. Chip Colwell (DMNS), with the responsibility to organize, direct, and edit the website’s content to reach the maximal target audience. This position will help lead the website’s development, launch, and growth.

This employment opportunity is based at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, in Denver, Colorado. The Managing Editor will be an annually-reviewed employee of the Museum funded by a five-year grant from Wenner-Gren.

The primary job duties are as follows:

1. Oversee the daily production of the online news portal.
This includes coordinating the editorial schedule and workflow with the editorial team; working with writers and editors; laying out the website; copyediting and proofreading; establishing best systems and other mechanisms to ensure steady streams of fresh, informative, creative content; developing systems for aggregating content from various media outlets and sharing content with other news sites; training new contributors in writing style and fundamentals; and identifying and recruiting freelance writers.
2. Lead the overall production of website content.
This includes assigning and editing pieces in different media; working with the website’s editorial team; responding to pitches and submissions; advancing publicity and social media tactics; tracking website impact and proposing appropriate strategies and editorial initiatives; creatively proposing and successfully implementing features, services, and products; and managing the website’s back-end in coordination with the Digital Editor.
3. Assist the team with the planning and execution of website events.
This includes writer trainings, panel discussions, and parties, and generally serving as an enthusiastic ambassador for the website.

The successful candidate should have the following qualifications:

A minimum of three-years of experience in popular science journalism or publishing, ideally in online platforms.
The ability to deliver timely and quality content.
Skill sets in science writing, copyediting, proofreading, and digital design.
Be team-oriented, capable of working quickly and efficiently, and passionate about bringing social science to the public.
Familiarity with writing for non-academic audience and ability to express concepts in engaging and approachable ways.
Experience with WordPress, Photoshop, and HTML is strongly preferred.
A background in anthropology or related fields is sought but not required.

Salary Range:
Salary is commensurate with experience, with full benefits.

How to apply

Applications must include a cover letter outlining your qualifications for the position, a sample of your work relevant to the position, a resume or CV, and the names of three references. Please submit via: For further information or any questions about this position, please contact Dr. Chip Colwell.

Application deadline: Friday, March 13, 2015.

Equal Opportunity Employer
The Denver Museum of Nature &Science and the Wenner-Gren Foundation are committed to a diverse workplace and is an equal-opportunity employer. We will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Friday, February 27, 2015

MUAN 38.1 "Continued Conversations" Web-Exclusive Content: Jill Minar Interview Part 1

In Musuem Anthropology 38.1, co-editors Maxine McBrinn and Tony Chavarria conducted interviews with museum anthropologists working within the university setting. This web-exclusive content adds to their collection of interviews published in the journal. 

This interview is with Dr. Jill Minar, Instructor of Anthropology/Archaeology in the Anthropology, Economics, and Geography Department, Social Sciences Division at Fresno City College in Fresno, California. This Part 1 of 2

1. Describe your job.
I am primarily a community college instructor of anthropology.  At our college, the normal teaching load is five classes per semester.  Because I am also responsible for our small museum and archaeological curation facility/archives, I am relieved of one class per semester. 

2. How does being associated with a university assist your job and institution? 
Mission – associated with education – having a built in community of learners every semester. Facility bills are paid by the college:  we don’t have an electric, water, or trash bill for example.  We can hook in to the campus outreach programs and advertising.  
Museums associated with colleges can provide a unique setting in the academic world.  Our museum, and I would assume most others associated with colleges and universities, provides a physical place where our community of learners can interact with each other and with faculty outside the classroom.  This extracurricular contact provides a connection between students, their peers, and their teachers that stimulates engagement.  Students find that their museum experiences are where the classroom meets the outside world.  They see their studies actually applied and they see the results that happen with visitors to the museum.  Students who participate as docents also have an opportunity to learn time management, collections management, educational tour development, as well as other job and life skills.  In our department, we see that students who are engaged in this way have better success in the classroom and stick around to complete their degrees with actual plans for further education and career paths.  

3. Does being associated with a university add challenges to your job?  
The college is my employer and my primary job is to teach introductory level anthropology courses.  It was assumed, when I was hired, that I would also be responsible for managing the Museum of Anthropology and the associated curation facility and archives.  I was given release time from one class for one year to bring the museum and curation facility and archives up to modern standards of exhibit design and curation practice while at the same time revamping the college’s archaeological technician program.  After one year, my teaching load returned to five classes per semester.  It took seven years for the college to realize that this was unrealistic and I was given release time from one class every semester to manage the museum, curation facility and archives.  Given that the museum, curation facility, and archives were very much ‘behind the times,’ the process of completely stabilizing collections, organizing the archives, and improving the museum exhibits is still on going.  
It would seem that having a museum associated with a college or university would be beneficial to the museum and to the college.  However, in our situation, the college has not recognized the financial and staffing needs required to run a museum and we struggle to keep the doors open.  The college took federal monies to create the museum as part of constructing a new building in the 1970s and so realizes that it cannot “get rid of” the museum (though they tried to turn the space into a computer lab one year without even talking to the anthropology faculty), but there is little actual support.  
In addition, the college staff, including senior administrators, do not understand the security requirements for museum and archaeological curation spaces.  We have an alarm system, but the campus police regularly turn it off for anyone who asks.  Recently, technology support staff entered the curation space without supervision and removed the computer with our collections data base on it to upgrade the operating system.  It was not thought necessary to discuss this with me first.   I simply received an email telling me the computer had been removed.  Fortunately, I was able to stop the upgrade until we could make sure that our data base program was compatible with the new operating system.  This could have been a disaster but was a blessing in disguise as it made me much more aware of how vulnerable our data and our collections are in the college as opposed to museum environment.  Meetings with administrators and some changes to access policies will hopefully help.  

4. How do university students interact with the museum?
The Museum of Anthropology has a docent program in which any student who has successfully completed at least one anthropology course may participate.  Docents go through some basic training about housekeeping and maintenance, exhibit content, interacting with the public, and providing tours to visitors.  The docents provide tours to visiting college students, faculty, and staff as well as visitors to the campus including grade school field trip groups.
Our anthropology majors have begun to use the museum as a meeting point since many of them volunteer as docents.  This has created a space for community to develop and as such has been extremely important in our efforts to improve student success and retention.  
Some faculty (anthropology, history, American Indian studies, among others) utilize the museum, having students come to visit the museum to complete various assignments.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Museum Anthropology 38.1: Web-Exclusive Content

In the latest issue of Museum Anthropology (38.1), journal co-editors Tony Chavarria and Maxine McBrinn co-authored an article of interviews with anthropologists that work in university museums. 

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting previously unpublished interviews as web-exclusive content. 

Keep an eye out for this exciting addition to the blog!