A teaching museum must obviously do more than provide arrays of artifacts which the student is supposed to examine, or even attractive displays which explain the construction of canoes or show the process and tools for squeezing manioc. - Andrew H. Whiteford (1956). “The Museum in the School.” American Anthropologist 58(2)
Nearly sixty years ago, Logan Museum of Anthropology director Andrew Whiteford wrote a treatise on the role of the college museum in enhancing liberal arts education. He argued that hands-on and interdisciplinary engagement with artifacts would create opportunities for a “stimulating, provocative, and deeply impressive experience which can be duplicated by almost no other means” (1956: 356). Today, the Logan Museum shares the same mission promoted by Whiteford. In the coming weeks, students and faculty who have recently used the Logan in coursework will receive surveys on this subject. We ask you to respond promptly so that we can determine how and to what degree the museum is succeeding in fulfilling Whiteford’s vision.
The Logan Museum is not just for anthropologists. Many departments incorporate the collections into courses, whether through a gallery tour, a creative writing exercise, or geochemical analyses of ancient objects. There are many ways that faculty and students use the collections to build connections between course themes, augment international perspectives, and engage students’ curiosity and imagination. With this survey, we’d like to find out more about (1) the ways our campus community accomplishes these goals and (2) what the outcomes are for students.
For those who receive an email soliciting survey responses, please complete the questionnaire for each course listed on the request. Your participation matters to us! Other campus museums collect anecdotal evidence on the effectiveness of teaching with collections. However, our survey is among the first to systematically and quantitatively assess collections use in the liberal arts curriculum. We will employ the survey results to improve the ways in which the Logan connects with courses and meets Whiteford’s charge to use collections to engage students deeply, in service to a liberal arts education.