Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Museum Anthropology Leaders: Steve Lekson, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder, Part 1

Exclusive Museum Anthropology Blog Interview with Steve Lekson, Curator of Archaeology and Professor of Anthropology, Univeristy of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder

This interview is the third installment in a our series, Museum Anthropology Leaders, where blog intern Lillia McEnaney will be interviewing various anthropological museum professionals. The first installment in the series was with Alaka Wali at the Field Museum, with the second being with Sheila Goff, based at History Colorado. 

This interview was conducted over written email correspondence. 

This is Part 1 of 2.

When in your education did you decide to pursue museum anthropology? Why?
Probably right after the BA, when I was running big CRM projects in Tennessee.  I didn't want to do that forever, I didn't want to be a professor, and a research curator pretty filled my requirements.

Could you provide the readers of the blog with a brief description of your day to day job at as the Curator of Anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History?
There are no two days that are the same.  In the last decade, LOTS of NAGPRA, a couple of big exhibits, a few major accessions, planning and grant writing for storage improvements, teaching classes, graduate students, (until last summer) almost every summer a field project, and a lot of university "business" -- endless committee work. 

Which project or exhibition that you worked on are you most proud of?
Hard to say.  Last big exhibit was "History of the Ancient Southwest", up for a year and very successful.  I was happy with it.

When I took this job, after about a half-year I saw four things that needed doing: (1) NAGPRA compliance (we were behind the curve); (2) rehousing our Southwest textiles; (2) rehabbing the Yellow Jacket collections -- our largest archaeological collection, but in a poor state of health; and (4) doing something with our remarkable collection of Southwestern pots which had not been on exhibit for as long as anyone could remember.  Got 'em all done except (2) and we're working on that right now!

What was the most challenging project or aspect of a project that you have worked on?
NAGPRA.  We have, after ten years, repatriated all of the HRs under our control, about 635 individuals.  We consulted with almost 100 tribes.  We had no NAGPRA staff and no budget.  It was a huge job and not a happy one.  I wrote about this in Museum Anthropology 33(2), 2010.

Do you have a favorite object in the University of Colorado collection?
Not one object.  We have a really rich collection.  The Mantle's Cave collection is pretty remarkable.

Part 2 coming soon!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology Partners with the Capitoline Museum of Rome

The CMA is pleased to announce a new cultural heritage initiative, in which the Capitoline Museum of Rome is partnering with US universities to document unstudied antiquities from its vast collection.

The first partner selected for the program is the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology.  Discussions have been underway for more than a year, and on Monday the project was formally announced by MU's Chancellor, representatives of the Italian Embassy, of the Cultural Heritage Superintendency of the City of Rome, and of Enel Green Power, which is underwriting the project.

The project has the potential to be a game-changer in international cultural heritage.   One of the rationalizations sometimes used for antiquities trafficking is that source countries don't allow access 
to the cultural patrimony under their control, including unstudied antiquities.  This project explicitly addresses that concern.

A collection of 249 black-gloss ceramics from the Republican Period (4th-1st centuries BC) has already been received by the Museum from the Capitoline.  Documentation-including both formal, stylistic and archaeometrics analyses-will be performed, a range of research questions addressed, and the materials returned.  Another group of antiquities will then take their place, forming an ongoing research collaboration encompassing the Museum of Art and Archaeology, the MU Department of Art History and Archaeology, and the Missouri University Research Reactor Archaeometry Laboratory.  The project allows full publication and use of the materials for research, theses and dissertations, and contemplates both exchanges of students and staff as well as exhibitions arising from the collaboration.

Missouri is serving as the pilot project, and it is hoped that similar projects can be developed with other universities in the years to come.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Byzantine Manuscript Returned to Mount Athos

ANSAMed, September 16, 2014

After many decades, an important Byzantine manuscript was returned to Mount Athos in Greece due to a collaboration agreement signed in 2011 with the Getty Museum in California. The manuscript, that was stolen in 1960 by the Dionysiou Monastery in Mount Athos and was bought from a private collector by the Getty Museum in 1983, will be on display at the Byzantine Museum in Athens from today, September 15, to October 30. The manuscript, as GreekReporter online writes, is a codex of the four gospels (Tetraevangelion), made in Constantinople in the 12th century and was first listed by Spyridon Lambrou in his opus "Catalogue of the Greek Manuscripts on Mount Athos." The manuscript's creator, Theoktistos, decorated it with beautiful illuminations. The 12th century is characterized by the production of ornate codices that were destined for members of the Komnenos dynasty or for the major monasteries of Constantinople. The Culture Ministry said that under a collaboration framework signed in 2011 with the Getty Museum, the museum agreed to return the manuscript to the Greek state. The Byzantine manuscript will be exhibited at the Byzantine Museum for a short period and following the exhibition, will be returned to Dionysiou Monastery in Mount Athos.

More here

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Job Opening: Conservator, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Seminole Tribe of Florida

Announcing an exciting opportunity to be part of the Collections team at the first tribally owned museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums!  The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is looking for a full-time conservator to help care for a collection of over 100,000 photographic, paper, and ethnographic objects.  Because of the nature of our collection, conservators who specialize in objects, textiles, paper, or photographs will all be considered, and no one will be asked to do work on materials they are not trained for.  This is a full-time position with benefits in a beautiful location. 

Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents should apply.  If interested, please send cover letter and resume to Collections Manager Tara Backhouse,

Nature of Work: 
The incumbent in this position is responsible for the preservation of the historic collection located at the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. The individual is responsible for all aspects of conservation treatment of the Museum’s permanent collections and exhibits. Completes condition assessments; documents and selects appropriate conservation treatments for all new acquisitions and loans of objects, artwork and documents received by the Museum. This position reports to the Collections Manager and is a non-exempt position. 

Illustrative Tasks: 
The listed duties are only illustrative and are not intended to describe every function that may be performed by this position. The omission of specific statements does not preclude management from assigning specific duties not listed, if such duties are a logical assignment to the position.

•    Maintains a conservation program designed to care for and restore historic documents, objects and/or artifacts and art work of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s permanent collections. Plans, implements and reviews care of Museum collections.

•    Completes condition assessments; documents and selects appropriate conservation treatments for all new acquisitions and loans objects and/or artifacts, art work and documents received by the Museum. Examine incoming acquisitions and loans for infestation issues. 

•    Determines whether the documents, objects/artifacts are in need of repair and chooses the safest and most effective method of repair. Notifies superior when restoration of artifacts requires outside experts. 

•    Manages the Museum’s Integrated Pest Management program and treats pest issues appropriately as necessary.

•    Designs and implements safe object mounting techniques for the exhibitions. Supervises the installation and de-installation of Museum’s collections and exhibits, including monitoring light levels to ensure the safety and preservation of the objects, artifacts, documents and art work. 

•    Advises Museum’s staff on the care of permanent collections. Recommends preservation procedures, such as control of temperature and humidity, to curatorial and Museum’s staff. Provides conservation education and general guidance to Museum’s staff and Art Collection Community through workshops, lectures, site visits, etc.

•    Performs tests and examinations to establish storage and conservation requirements, policies, and procedures. Prepares artifacts for storage and shipping. Monitors the conditions of works in storage, exhibition, and transit environments.  

•    Manages in-house conservation laboratory. Selects appropriate conservation supplies, tools, and equipment; ensures maintenance of tools/equipment and the establishment of quality control procedures to verify the adherence of products to standards. 

•    Ensures compliance with all chemical policies and procedures. Maintains log sheets up to date and informs the Fire Department and Environmental Services regarding Chemical contents store within the Conservation lab.

•    Photo-documents the Museum’s collection items as needed and maintains archives of photograph sets.

•    Establishes and maintains relationships with other museums, agencies and departments to meet museum's needs and to ensure quality of the services provided.

•    Performs other related duties as assigned. 

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 
•    Knowledge of Seminole Tribe of Florida’s culture and history.
•    Knowledge of guidelines and best practices of the museum industry.
•    Knowledge of appropriate basic and intermediate conservation treatment procedures.  
•    Ability to maintain effective working relationships.
•    Ability to analyze data and information and interpret when needed. 
•    Ability to handle multiple projects and see projects to a point of completion.
•    Ability to serve the STOF’s Officers, general public and fellow employees with honesty and integrity.
•    Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with the general public, co-workers and elected and appointed officials.

Minimum Requirements 
Bachelor’s degree in History, Anthropology, Art or related field with a specialization in conservation is required. Master’s degree in art conservation preferred. Minimum of two (2) years of experience working as a conservator in a museum or in a similar setting is required.    An equivalent combination of degree and experience with formal training in conservation and preservation will also be considered.  Excellent organizational and interpersonal skills, including excellent written and verbal communication skills are required. Excellent research skills required. Proficiency utilizing Microsoft software packages and other common programs required. Ability to travel and work a flexible schedule including evenings, weekends and holidays is required.

Physical Demands
Moderate physical activity. Work requires physical strength to lift heavy objects (25-40 pounds); the dexterity to grasp very small objects; and good eyesight to see differences in color, shading, and brightness. The incumbent must be able to stand for extended periods of time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Call for Papers: Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Annual Meeting

Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Annual Meeting
Continuity and Change, Pittsburgh, March 24th – 28th, 2015

Session Title: Controversy in the Museum: Current Issues

Session Organizer: Lindsay Barone (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

From provocative artwork to scientific controversy, museums are faced with a unique set of challenges in developing exhibits on divisive topics. Staff members are continually negotiating the creation of engaging, cutting-edge content, developing exhibits that will be considered successful and will attract a high number of visitors while simultaneously coping with administrative and donor concerns. Papers in this session will explore the role of museums as centers of authoritative knowledge and artistic expression and the challenges they face from visitor demands, pressures from the academic community, and the larger public response to exhibitions and programming choices perceived as controversial. 

Abstracts should be submitted by email to Lindsay Barone ( by Wednesday, October 1st with the following information:

* Name 
* Institutional affiliation 
* Paper title 
* 100-word abstract 

* Contact information 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Program Assistant, Recovering Voices Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Program Assistant (IS-303-7), Recovering Voices Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Recovering Voices is looking to hire two non-federal, four-year, trust-funded full time Program Assistant positions ($42,209 salary). Both positions will be integral to helping further the work of Recovering Voices Program at the National Museum of Natural History.

We will accepting applications until September 17.

The Recovering Voices Program collaborates with communities and other institutions to address issues of indigenous language and knowledge diversity and sustainability at the national and global level.

The program assistant to the Recovering Voices Program will:
•Assist with community visits to the anthropological collections. These duties include running collections database (EMu) reports of collections for visitors, assisting visitors with access to collections, updating and enhancing database EMu with data collected during visits.
•Be responsible for video recording of community visits, as well as logging and archiving the video, as well as synchronizing video information with EMu records of collections.
•Assist with production and update of program materials and web pages.
•Assist with linking collection information using the Smithsonian Collections Center, Recovering Voices website and Emu.
•As required, assist with a variety of administrative tasks related to the Recovery Voices Program.

•Manage incoming and outgoing correspondence related to Recovering Voices activities at the Museum Support Center.

In addition to a cover letter explaining your interest in, and qualifications for the positions, please include a CV, which lists the starting/end dates of job (mo./yr.), average number of hours worked per week, salary, country of citizenship and 3 references with contact information.

Friday, September 05, 2014

‘HacktheHearst’ to Expand Public Discovery of Ancient Treasures

UC Berkeley News Center
Kathleen McClay, August 27, 2014

'The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, may be home to treasures that are thousands of years old, and a museum hackathon that kicks off Sept. 10 aims to make the stellar collection more relevant and accessible than ever.
HacktheHearst is expected to produce new tools, including apps, that will enable easier, open-source exploration of the museum’s digitized collections data and images.
“It would take centuries to physically exhibit everything in our collections, given the size of our sole exhibition space,” said Michael Black, head of research and information systems at the Hearst Museum. The museum’s approximately 3 million artifacts come from around the world, with especially strong collections from North America, ancient Egypt, Africa, the ancient Mediterranean, Oceania, South and Central America, and Asia.
Students were recently working to digitize a large set of Hearst Museum artifacts.  Photo by Michael Black.
Students were recently working to digitize a large set of Hearst Museum artifacts (Photo courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology).
As a result of the hackathon, said Black, elementary school kids might not have to spend hours on a bus trekking to the UC Berkeley museum for a tour, or rummaging through an old-fashioned education kit that has been offered for years, but instead access much of the collection at their computer keyboards.
“We’re not Ivory Tower experts who want to keep information to ourselves,” Black said. “Our job is to share this data with the public, and to serve as a clearinghouse for new information about the objects in our collections.”'

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Position Announcement: Blackwater Draw Museum Curator, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University seeks applications for a full, time permanent Blackwater Draw Museum Curator. The successful candidate must be able to, under limited supervision, assist the Director in directing the operational, financial, and personnel management activities of the museum. A Master of Arts degree in Anthropology or a related discipline is required, with demonstrable knowledge and experience with Paleoindian research, or Late Pleistocene faunal studies, or other aspects of early American prehistory. The ideal candidate should have experience with museum collections, database management, and show an ability for public speaking, public relations, giving hours, museum security, and technical writing. One year of experience with museum collections and related database management preferred. Work is moderately active in nature that occasionally requires exerting up to 50 pounds of force and/or moderate amount of fore frequently to constantly life, carry, push, pull or otherwise mover objects. 

Electronic applications may be submitted through the links avaiable on the Employment area within the ENMU Human Resources page. Applicants should submit a letter of interest outlining qualifications, current CV, academic transcripts, and names of three references. Applications will be reviewed beginning September 15, 2014, with review continuing until position is filled. Applicants must pass a pre-employment background check and employee must have a valid drivers license at time of hire.