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Mathers Museum, Glenn Black Lab Merger Yields Cultural History Powerhouse

IU news announced back home:

Mathers Museum, Glenn Black Lab Merger Yields Cultural History Powerhouse

This is a big deal for the students with whom I work, the colleagues with whom I collaborate, and the collections that I have been studying.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Staffan Peterson #

    Another perspective on the merger, published in Science:

    Science Aug 2011, Lovis, 937.2

    “Some institutions, such as Indiana University, are merging archaeological units, along
    with their endowments, with larger collections units (6). This change allows the pre-
    viously protected endowment funds to be directed toward broader purposes than orig-
    inally intended, and in turn puts the long term stability of the funds at risk.”

    A worrisome scenario, if his interpretation is accurate.

    September 26, 2011
    • Thank you for calling that Science letter to my attention. Unwelcome changes for institutions with systematic research collections have been ongoing for as long as I have been doing work within such museums and archives. There surely are global trends, some of which are not wholesome. (Although now is also a time in which many new innovations are revitalizing museum anthropology and related fields.) That said, I think that there are also often very local dynamics at play. I have seen this in several instances of museums of anthropology closing and merging (Arkansas, Kansas), but I have also seen it in instances in which new developments, including dramatic expansions and positive growth happened, such as at Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (and MAI–>NMAI). Not all mergers are created equal. Some solve problems and create new opportunities, other serve less good ends and are a consequence of factors external to the museum’s mission. There is no doubt though that explaining (and showing) the unique value of systematic collections in anthropology and neighboring fields is an endless task that must be pursued.

      September 26, 2011

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