ASU museum studies students help modernize Illinois’ Center for American Archeology
Three years ago, two Arizona State University faculty members met in the small southern Illinois town of Kampsville to discuss the future of the nearby Center for American Archeology (CAA), opened in 1953.
The center pursues archaeological research, education and public outreach through its field school and laboratories. Integral to the center’s educational and public outreach functions is a museum, housed in a historical landmark building that once served as the merchant river town’s general store and post office. Originally owned by the Kamp family, the building remains a link to the community’s long history.
When CAA president and ASU Regents’ Professor of bioarchaeology Jane Buikstra decided it was time to enhance the center’s museum to reflect current educational, archaeological and museum trends, she turned to ASU colleague Judy Newland.
Newland is the director of the ASU Museum of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a museum studies instructor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Seeing the potential in the site as a development project for her graduate museum studies students, she agreed to undertake the renovation.
In May, ASU faculty, staff and graduate students collaborating with CAA staffers, completed the first phase of a multi-year project. The local community became engaged in following the progress at the museum, as reported by the Calhoun News-Herald in a May 16 article.
According to Newland, “The renovation of this little gem of a museum in the Lower Illinois River Valley offered opportunities for our graduate museum studies students to design, organize and install exhibition elements that have made a dramatic difference.”
She is looking forward to continuing the next phase of upgrades during the summer of 2013 and has the full backing of School of Human Evolution and Social Change director Alexandra Brewis Slade.
“We are dedicated to fostering a solid and positive relationship between our institutions,” Brewis Slade said. “The team of faculty, staff and graduate students from ASU, who spent 14 days working on the renovation, could not have accomplished all that they did without the collaboration of the strong CAA staff.”
As for Buikstra, she is very happy with the results. “We at the Center for American Archeology are delighted with the new look for our Kampsville Museum. It’s wonderful to have the professional touch of the ASU museum program!” she praised.