Ann K. Wright-Parsons
M.A. Anthropology, 1993
Director of the Anthropology Museum
Ann Wright-Parsons does what some call “an impossible job.” For almost nine years, Ms. Wright-Parsons has served as Director of the NIU Anthropology Museum. Her responsibilities focus on planning and installing exhibits and supervising all aspects of the collections work. In addition, Ms. Wright-Parsons also takes exhibits off campus as part of the community outreach initiative; gives talks in the community about Southeast Asian textiles; teaches a course in collections management; writes grants and seeks funds to run the museum; supervises student interns; and hosts openings.
Ms. Wright-Parsons came to NIU first as a graduate student earning her M.A. in Anthropology with specialization in Southeast Asia. Afterward, she worked as a Senior Scientific Assistant to the Curator of the Asian Collection at the American Museum of Natural History in New York where she carried out research and assisted with all aspects of the exhibitions that involved Asian pieces, such as the Body Art: Marks of Identity exhibit (1999 – 2000).
Ms. Wright-Parsons fosters our appreciation for other cultures with beautiful, professional quality exhibits. Recent exhibits, such as Cambodia Born Anew (a joint effort with the Cambodian American Heritage Museum in Chicago) and Crafting Maya Identity, drew attention to the college and to the department.
Under Ms. Wright-Parson’s leadership, the number of students earning certification in the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies program has more than quadrupled from a handful of students enrolled when the program began six years ago. Many students are now launched in careers at museums in Illinois and throughout the United States.
Ms. Wright-Parsons demonstrates her commitment to the museum and to the university through work done at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. By example, she inspires students to participate in cataloguing, curating museum collections, exhibits, and dealing with visitors. The Anthropology Museum thrives because of her hard work, persistence, fundraising efforts, and her ability to recruit volunteers and students.
Functioning as a “driving force behind the renovation of the Anthropology Museum,” Ms. Wright-Parsons is currently working to establish the new exhibition space as well as updated storage facilities for the collection with the anticipated renovation of Cole Hall.