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VCU Archaeology

Collaboration, Conversation, and Co-Creation: A Visit from VMNH’s Dr. Elizabeth Moore

by Bernard K. Means, director

Dr. Moore, left, speaks with students in the Virtual Curation Laboratory.

Dr. Moore, left, speaks with students in the Virtual Curation Laboratory about animal bone identification with Mariana Zechini (seated) and Ashley McCuistion, while Lauren Volkers looks on their discussion.

The Virtual Curation Laboratory was very fortunate to have Dr. Elizabeth Moore of the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) as a visitor on Wednesday (March 19) and Friday (March 21) of this past week.  Dr. Moore is the Curator of Archaeology for VMNH.

Intern Carson Collier talks about editing the digital model of the pig skull that she is holding.

Intern Carson Collier talks about editing the digital model of the pig skull that she is holding.

On Wednesday, Dr. Moore helped us verify the identity of a mummified animal that we had in the Virtual Curation Laboratory.  Our Digital Curation Supervisor Ashley McCuistion and Digital Zooarchaeologist Mariana Zechini had tentatively identified this as a juvenile opossum, and this identification turned out to be correct.

1179_opossum_mummy_new

Dr. Moore also brought some carved hippopotamus teeth for scanning during her visit. These had been identified as rhinoceros teeth when they were donated to VMNH, but  VCU’s Dr. Amy Verrelli corrected this misidentification.

Dr. Moore shows the carved teeth to Carson Collier and Lauren Volkers.

Dr. Moore shows the carved teeth to Carson Collier and Digital Curation Specialist Lauren Volkers.

Lauren Volkers shows Dr. Moore how we scan artifacts using a carved hippopotamus tooth.

Lauren Volkers shows Dr. Moore how we scan artifacts using a carved hippopotamus tooth.

Dr. Moore and I, as well as VCU students and alumns working or interning in the Virtual Curation Laboratory, also spent the early afternoon discussing an exciting new collaborative effort in co-creation–we will be creating content for a new series of exhibits on archaeology for VMNH.  Tentatively, we have identified a series of themes: basic concepts of archaeology, including stratigraphy; chronology via stone tool types and radiocarbon dating; village life and village layouts; public archaeology; trade and exchange; smoking pipes; and, zooarchaeology, with modified and unmodified bone. Following the strategy implemented at our exhibit last fall in VCU’s James Branch Cabell Library, we will print replicas of artifacts in the Virtual Curation Laboratory to adhere to some exhibit panels and to be incorporated in public archaeology hands-on programs.  A new class in Museum Anthropology that I will teach in Spring 2015 will work on formalizing the exhibit components with VCU students and also interns in the Virtual Curation Laboratory.

Dr. Moore discussing careers and research for VCU students.

Dr. Moore discussing careers and research for VCU students.

On Friday morning, Dr. Moore spoke to a room full of VCU students about her career as a curator and zooarchaeologist. She was available to answer questions about jobs, careers, and skills needed for zooarchaeology and museum curation. Dr. Moore drew on her experience in large museums (National Museum of Natural History) and mid-sized (VMNH) museums, with large and small cultural resource management (CRM) firms, self-employment, formal and informal education, and as a zooarchaeological consultant for several firms at once, part-time, full-time, etc. while juggling work and family. This was an ideal way to help orient those students getting ready to enter the work force or who are planning graduate studies.  Dr. Moore spoke of her collaborative research efforts with the Virtual Curation Laboratory over the last two years, and her close work with VCU students and alumni on research projects. She is an advisor on Mariana Zechini’s honors thesis in Anthropology. Plastic replicas of bones scanned from the VMNH collection were available also for study and show during her talk.

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We certainly look forward to additional conversations with Dr. Moore, and other exciting opportunities for collaboration and co-creation with her and other members of the VMNH curatorial staff.

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