Can Beloit College students fulfill course requirements by rummaging through an antique mall? Or by helping a historical society preserve its treasures? Yes! Here’s how.
Beloit’s museum studies program provides experiential opportunities of many kinds. This semester, Nicolette Meister’s Introduction to Collections Management course is engaging the skills, creativity, and energy of its students to acquire needed objects locally for the Logan Museum’s educational collection. The same students are also assisting the Beloit Historical Society with its collections storage needs.
The class (above) arrived at Angela’s Attic, a South Beloit antique mall, prepared with seven specific acquisition criteria and a spending maximum of $10 per student. The College’s museums have specialized collections used in hands-on programs, such as postcards and photographs—just the kinds of things that fill antique malls. At Angela’s Attic, students selected objects that met the acquisition criteria, defended their intended purchases, and voted on-site whether to acquire them. Back on campus, the students registered the newly purchased objects into the museums’ collections.
Many Beloit College students have been interning and volunteering at the Beloit Historical Society. This year, after visiting and learning about the Society’s needs, the Introduction to Collections Management students built archival storage boxes for important objects and physically rehoused the objects to improve preservation. Flags, shoes, and hats were among the artifacts the students worked with. The students worked hard and learned a lot in this service-learning project about the realities and challenges facing small museums.