The museum celebrated its 49th year at NIU and continues to engage students and faculty with rich ethnographic and archaeological collections. Revitalized with new staff and new facilities, the museum has seen a whirlwind of activity this year. Our collection of more than 12,000 objects was moved out of temporary storage and into the renovated collections area in the basement of Cole Hall. Students were hired to assist in every aspect of packing, tracking, moving and unpacking the collection objects. Dozens of NIU classes scheduled specialized tours with Museum staff to supplement their curriculum. Thousands of visitors came to experience anthropology through museum exhibits and programs, including the governor of Illinois! We have exciting plans underway for next year and look forward to sharing them with you at the museum.
In our second year in Cole Hall, the museum pushed the boundaries of exhibition content, public engagement and professional scholarship. Testing the physical capacities of the new exhibition space and developing meaningful programs to ignite the community, our staff immediately resolved to transform anthropological research into dynamic exhibitions that would inspire students and visitors to become activists and advocates for human rights and social justice. Working with Mark Schuller, NIU assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development, the museum developed "Fragments: Haiti Four Years After the Earthquake," a unique exhibition that told the story of six Haitians who survived the 2010 earthquake and followed their lives in the aftermath.
By the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, museum staff produced four exhibitions, presented at two international conferences, taught museum courses, provided a variety of public programs and special tours and supervised a number of student interns. Attendance increased 56% and visitors were clearly energized by the fresh ideas, exhibitions and programs at the new Anthropology Museum.