Note from Bernard K. Means: This blog is related to a course entitled Visualizing and Exhibiting Anthropology. As you can see, students were tasked with creating an exhibit, as well as presenting a research poster at the Spring Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium. Included here is a reflective blog, a one page summary for the student’s part of the exhibit, and the presented research poster. Blanks on the poster were places where 3-D printed replicas were placed.
by David Black
I have always been an avid supporter of hands-on learning. Anth 430: Visualizing and Exhibiting Anthropology is perhaps the most hands-on class I have taken at Virginia Commonwealth University. Much of the time I find myself wondering how the information I learn in my classes can be applied outside of teaching. This class not only teaches you what is involved in creating and exhibiting artifacts for a museum-based field, but we actually do it in the class. I have always thought that the museum field may be a good first place to look when it comes to life after graduation, however, before this class I really had no idea what that entailed. This class has definitely prepared me for a job in that field.
For this class we were tasked with choosing, researching, and then exhibiting several artifacts for a small case in the West Grace North building at VCU. We were each given a shelf to design and theme. I chose the theme of magic and ritual, since my field of interest is religious anthropology. My shelf consisted of a number of objects relating to this field, including a hoodoo vessel, a witch bottle, and a carved ritual Dayak skull. We presented ideas from our themes at the UROP spring poster symposium. I did my research on head hunting on the Island of Borneo, using the Dayak skull as a prime example of this. As I have always been greatly fond of teaching and research I was particularly fond of this assignment. It was also a great way to prove your knowledge and what you have gotten out of the class.
We had a few guest speakers during the duration of the class. These were some of my favorite lectures from the class. Since these people were literally applying what we were learning in the real world. Using 3D printed artifacts for learning and encouraging hands on learning and visualization.
There are only a few things that I think could improve the class experience. Although it is mostly a hands-on style class, I do think that lectures and reading can go a long way when incorporated into such a class. I would like to see the book used more as well as structured lecture plans. The class itself was a little unorganized, but what can you expect with a class of only four people. Also, apparently the museum world is fairly unorganized as well, so perhaps its for the best. One thing I definitely think would help is enforcing clear deadlines for assignments, especially for those pertaining to the exhibit. This year, and apparently every year, the class cuts it pretty close on finishing the exhibit. All and all I would highly recommend this to any student think about going in to the museum field.