New funds were requested from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums in order to improve an exhibit in the newly-moved and renovated archaeology museum, the Museum of People and Cultures, or MPC.
Start: July 1, 2014
End: June 30, 2015
Contract Terms: Utah Division of Arts and Museums
- Principal Investigator: Paul Stavast
- Website: https://mpc.byu.edu/Pages/Home.aspx
The Utah Division of Arts and Museums is supporting a new and improved Museum of Peoples and Cultures, which has been part of the BYU community since the establishment of the academic archaeology department in 1946. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures focuses on educating the public about anthropological and archaeological findings within the United States, with a large focus on findings in Utah. The museum facility was a historic campus dormitory built in the 1930s. Its new location north of campus will feature a larger exhibition space with stronger interactive and hands-on components, funded in part with this grant. A vital element of the new museum location is its ability to cater to museum visitors with disabilities. While the previous building did not easily comply with ADA requirements, better facilities and disability-specific training for museum docents allows individuals with disabilities more ease of access when visiting the museum.
This grant also assisted in funding a graduate museum course during summer 2014. Kari Nelson, the Curator of Education, and Museum Director Paul Stavast mentored graduate students in connection with the university’s archaeology program. This course included teaching students about current best practices in museum education and studying the many aspects that make up the museum’s exhibits. The course also evaluated the various elements of the museum’s outreach program, specifically the hands-on components of the exhibitions, teacher resources, and museum docent tour training. The museum is hopeful that as visitors explore the updated facilities, this training will make the museum an increasingly knowledgeable and relative resource.
This project has provided a hands-on learning experience both undergraduate and graduate university students as they earn academic credit through the museum curating program. A key part of the museum is its extensive student volunteer staff, the majority of which are university students working towards a degree in archaeology or anthropology. These volunteers are involved in every aspect of the museum experience, including archives, education, and publicity.
The BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures is a historic part of the Provo and Utah community, and this grant will allow them to remain involved and continue to share the artifacts and other archaeological findings, specific to Utah as well as foreign and exotic cultures. While their previous location was originally a campus dormitory, their new site was specifically designed to increase the visitor’s learning, providing a narrative description of a wide variety of human cultures. The new facility also provides for state-of-the-art displays to more adequately safeguard fragile objects. This will provide a more material-based education of other cultures, and highlight the value of physical items to understand human culture. Combining the new facility with improved outreach efforts ensures that this museum will also continue to be a resource for elementary, junior high and high school students from Provo and the surrounding areas to explore archaeological artifacts and exhibits.