Even with a relatively short institutional history spanning just over 60 years, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, its museum, and its academic units have evolved over time. The Department of Anthropology founded an exhibit space, the Anthropology Teaching Museum, in 1973 separate from the larger University Museum on campus, with the goal of ethnographic education within the department. Later, the mission of the departmental museum changed and broadened to focus on the larger public and K-12 education. Today, the space is in the process of adapting yet again, this time to serve object-based learning needs of undergraduate and graduate anthropology students as the Ethnology Museum Laboratory. However, while some objects from the original departmental museum exhibits are utilized regularly, many are only taking up valuable resources. At Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the topic of access in museum collection management thus takes on a multilayered meaning. Management of the Ethnology Museum Laboratory collection is in the process of being centralized to improve access to the collection as well as laboratory space, bringing about true fitness for purpose. This poster will utilize the Ethnology Museum Laboratory collection as a case study to discuss benefits and drawbacks of centralizing departmental collections in academic museums.
Dana Lewis, Graduate Research Assistant, University Museum at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville