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College of Professional and Continuing Studies Journal of Museum Studies


Volume 1, Issue 1
Podcasting in Museums by James Yasko.

Abstract. The use of iPods and other MP3 players as educational tools in museums is reviewed. Podcasting is a new technique that enables museums to reach a wider audience or to target particular demographic groups. Podcast use is still uncommon, although several major museums have made interesting attempts to diversify their offerings in exhibits and public programs through podcasts. A step-by-step set of instructions for developing podcasts is provided along with a review of informational sources on podcasting.

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Volume 2, Issue 1
A Woman's Journey: The Life and Work of Artis Lane by Drew Talley, Jill Moniz, Mar Hollingworth, and Evelyn Carter.

Abstract. The California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles organized a retrospective exhibition featuring the artwork of Artis Lane. The decision to curate a retrospective was based upon her longevity in the fine arts arena and her prolific work in the public sector. This first retrospective of the Black Canadian-American was an exploration of an artist’s work that expands over fifty years. The exhibition included self-portraits, as well as representations of family and friends; busts and paintings of historical figures and celebrities; and studio nudes. It featured both drawings and sculptures, from traditional to more abstract that evolved into her current work of metaphysical sculptural pieces. For popular culture interest it featured a gallery of painted portraits, including Oprah Winfrey, Aretha Franklin, and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The retrospective exhibition was shown at the California African American Museum from September 27, 2007 through March 9, 2008.

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Volume 3, Issue 1
2008 Natural Science Collections Alliance Economic Impact Survey by Robert Gropp and Michael A. Mares.

Abstract. The National Science Collections Alliance conducted a survey of natural science collections in October 2008.  The survey was designed to capture the impact of the economic recession on natural science collections in the United States.  Private and government funding accounts for half of support for natural history and natural science museums, therefore it was expected that natural science collections would be negatively impacted by the ailing U.S. economy.  Two thirds of the 88 collections that completed the survey anticipate a budget cut in the coming 12-24 months.  Of the 86 percent of respondents that receive philanthropic donations, about half expect to see reduced donations in the coming 12-24 months.  Half of the collections anticipate that government grants and contracts will play a more important role in research and education programs in the future.  Despite uncertainty about future funding, natural science collections continue to provide public education: 87 percent of collections report stable or increased public attendance in the previous 12-24 months.  The results of the survey highlight the need for collections to prepare for institutional budget cuts, build partnerships in their community, and work with other collections to share best practices.  Actions by the federal government could also help to relieve the burden on science collections.  The President should establish an interagency council to facilitate coordination among federal programs that fund or manage collections-related research and education.  Finally, both the President and Congress should seek significant increases in federal funding for collections-based research and education programs.

Book Review: Tourists of History by Tony Mares.

Abstract: The book, Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero, by Marita Sturken, is reviewed by Tony Mares. The book has great applicability to the recent tendency to memorialize sudden tragedies through museums and other structures.

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Volume 4, Issue 1
Dome on the Range: The Improbable Dream 
by Jerry Choate

Abstract. This article is based on a lecture presented in the plenary session of the 87th annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists, which was hosted by the University of New Mexico in June of 2007 in Albuquerque.  A lecture is a requirement of recipients of the American Society of Mammalogists’ Joseph Grinnell Award for Excellence in Education in Mammalogy, which Dr. Choate received.  Typically, Grinnell Award presenters review their accomplishments with respect to education. Choate’s presentation dealt with his career-long effort to develop a major natural history museum at Fort Hays State University in western Kansas. The Grinnell Award specifically includes broader educational accomplishments, such as those involved in exhibits, museums, and so forth, as well as providing information on mammals to the general public and specialized users such as government agencies. Choate excelled at several of the categories for which the award is presented.

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Volume 5, Issue 1
Zoological Museums and Collections in Jerusalem During the Late Ottoman Period
by Dr. Oded Shay

Abstract. The first zoological collections were concentrated at monasteries and churches in Jerusalem and included the Dalman bird exhibit at the Lutheran church school in Moristan, the Schmitz specimens exhibited at the St. Paulus Hostel, and the natural history collection exhibited at the Franciscan Museum in the Monastery of the Flagellation. At the same time, the Bezalel Museum was established in Jerusalem, initially containing a natural history collection set up by Aharoni. The museum later featured art, Judaica, and archeology. Selah Merrill was an important private collector. Activities of the natural history explorers Aharoni, Merrill, and Schmitz, were motivated by a combination of national and religious fervor that accompanied their zoological studies and exploration of Palestine. The common denominator to all three was the intimate and uncompromising link to the Bible. The aim of the collections was firstly to revive the living world of the Bible and origins of ancient times. They also recognized a need to collect zoological specimens to preserve the zoological history of the country in light of the accelerated development of settlements and agriculture and consequent impact on the natural environment. The collection of animal hides was varied. Most collectors stuffed the hides, while others bought them from hunters and employed taxidermists. Zoological collections were established following the accelerated development of Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century and had economic significance: animal hides were sold to various overseas museums, providing substantial incomes for Aharoni, Merrill, and Schmitz. Moreover, butterfly collections provided samples for carpets produced in the workshops of Bezalel.

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Volume 6, Issue 1
Modern Museums: A Visitor-Centered Approach to Doing Business by Andrea Gail Barnett

Abstract. Societal trends for museums and other cultural institutions have changed in the United States and the world. Consumers have come to expect much more activity than just passively viewing artifacts at museums or similar sites.The cultural institution mentality of “if we build it, they will come” (Chin, 2001:4) no longer holds, because visitors want more; it is not enough to see the real thing.They want to touch and interact and socialize. They want an “experience.” Consumers in today’s society have become accustomed to themed restaurants, mega shopping complexes, bright bright flashy light, and catchy slogans to draw them in to these entertainment venues. Unfortunately, this consumer mentality has crossed into the museum realm, because museums are now considered places of cultural entertainment, lumped into tourist packages with neighborhood malls. In the past, museums existed as storehouses for rarities that attracted curious visitors, but “most museums [today] exist in order to attract and serve visitors – as many as possible” (Falk, 2009:20).

Book Review: Oceania at the Tropenmuseum by Dan C. Swan

Abstract. The book, Oceania at the Tropenmuseum, is reviewed by Dan C. Swan. The book presents a fascinating account on the origins of the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, one of the great ethnographic museums in the world. The book includes interesting accounts of expeditions that acquired artifacts as well as rich photographic documentation of historic trips to Oceania.

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Volume 7, Issue 1: Reinventing Museum Labels: Overcoming an Archetype with Technology and Visitor-Centered Label Writing by Katherine Liss Saffle

Abstract. Labels play a necessary role in any exhibition, acting as silent ambassadors for the museum by providing information and object interpretation. However, labels are also subject to the biases and perceptions of the writer, the exhibition, and the institution, which can create a breakdown in communication between the museum visitor and reception of key information. The question then is how to write labels that open the lines of communication with all audiences without discouraging the scholarly work of museum professionals. This report discusses the basic mechanics of label writing and best practices, including such considerations as building communication, the ideal exhibition environment, and label content. Also considered is the impact of such issues as visitor museum fatigue and accessibility. An overview of current technologies that have merit in the museum setting, such as smart phone applications, computer tablets, and barcodes, is also discussed, while keeping in mind potential drawbacks of these newer forms of museum communication.

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Volume 8, Issue 1: Talking God and Father Peyote: Religious Pluralism and Contemporary Diné (Navajo) Art by Daniel C. Swan & Dakota H. Stevens 

Abstract. This paper examines the visual expression of religious pluralism
in contemporary Navajo society. We focus on artistic works that are influenced by the intersection of the Native American Church and traditional Navajo religious practice. We use this theme as a means to explore the work of two contemporary painters from the Navajo Nation, Sammie Largo and Garrett Etsitty. At interest here is an opportunity to discuss current themes associated with art, religion, and identity in the Navajo Nation.

Preliminary Quantification of Curator Success in Life Science Natural History Collections by Jessa L. Watters & Cameron D. Siler

Abstract: In an era when budgets are tight for families, businesses, universities, and governments, it is sometimes difficult to see the value in museums and their curators. Museums provide a necessary service to scientists and the public by housing specimens in a long-term stable environment, providing specimens and data for research, training new generations of scientists, bridging the gap between research, education, and public outreach, and working to develop new technologies to track speciation, biodiversity, and environmental change, just to name a few. The curators who conduct research in museums are integral to our overall understanding of the life sciences, yet their livelihood is being challenged. In an effort to quantify the incredible resource represented by a museum curator, we conducted a survey, sent to email list-serves and online groups, asking natural history curators to respond with details on museum and university affiliation, time in position, collections overseen, grant and publication success, teaching breadth, and student mentoring involvement. Our research indicates that curators have a great deal of scientific and monetary value to add to museums, affiliated universities, and our general education system through contributions from research publications, grants, and teaching, and student mentorship.

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