New acquisitions on display in ‘Objects and Lives’ at DU anthropology museum
Forget the time machine and the plane tickets. One doesn’t need to stray far from campus to experience distant and read more…
Forget the time machine and the plane tickets. One doesn’t need to stray far from campus to experience distant and past civilizations. The University of Denver Museum of Anthropology (DUMA) offers a unique opportunity to take a step back into history. DUMA has an extensive collection of more than 150,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects that are displayed in rotating exhibits. By simply visiting room 102 in Sturm Hall, you can discover different cultures and view artifacts from around the globe.
The impressive permanent collection has expanded with the addition of the “Objects and Lives” exhibit, which opened Jan. 24. The show features objects donated by local donors over the past several years, including musical instruments from Africa and Papua New Guinea, as well as weavings, oceanic masks and wooden figures and sculptures.
The museum serves as a learning laboratory for DU students. Graduate students help to curate and organize the different exhibitions, and museum studies students are able to further their education of how museums work. The “Objects and Lives” exhibit is part of the Art and Anthropology course taught this term by anthropology Professor Christina Kreps. In the class, students study the role of art in society from a cross-cultural and historical perspective.
The title of the exhibit “refers to how objects not only tell stories of those who created, collected or came to process them, but also how they have their own biographies, taking on new chapters as they pass from hand to hand,” says Kreps, director of the anthropology museum. “We want to convey to visitors how objects end up in museums and how they are layered with multiple meanings and purposes in different contexts.”
DUMA was founded in 1931 by archaeologist Etienne Renaud, a professor and lecturer in the anthropology department from 1920–48. Much of DUMA’s collection has an emphasis on the American Southwest. The ethnographic collection primarily focuses on American Indian material culture, including pottery, weavings and basketry, while the archaeology collection specializes in the prehistory of Colorado. Renaud’s field notes from various expeditions have been digitized and can be viewed online through the Department of Special Collections and Archive.
DUMA also has several online exhibits, including Behind Barbed Wire: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment During World War II and Colorado Coal Field War Project: Work and Culture in the Southern Colorado Coal Field, 1860–1960.
Kreps is passionate about the exhibit and hopes visitors take away a sense of discovery.
“I hope [people] learn something about the objects on display and can appreciate their beauty and power as unique examples of human creativity and diversity,” she says.
The exhibit runs through March 15; the museum is open 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information, visit the museum website.