Roundtable: Graduate Student Risks, Museum Rewards: Teaching Interdisciplinary Objects

Just finishing its fifth year, the Object-Based Teaching (OBT) Fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum represents a unique collaboration between the University’s academic museum and art history department. For one year, a select doctoral candidate works at the museum for twenty hours each week; the Museum pays his or her stipend, and the department pays tuition and benefits. This symbiotic arrangement provides fellows with crucial training and teaching experience, while building the Museum’s capacity to offer exemplary object based teaching University wide. Additionally, it frees up staff time to conduct trainings, focus on strategic planning and museum-wide initiatives. Graduate fellows are trained and empowered to teach across a range of disciplinary, geographic, temporal, and even material borders. Moving outside of their comfort zones and fields of expertise deepens their capacity to engage objects in their art historical research, creates more agile educators, and trains a new generation of scholars invested in the possibilities of teaching with objects. The Museum increasingly relies on their skill and creativity. Last year, for the first time, the OBT taught the most out of any staff member, teaching roughly thirty-percent of the Museum’s guided curricular visits. This roundtable will present the Ackland’s model, providing a window into the experiences and development of the OBTs and the repercussions museum-wide. Discussants then will engage with questions surrounding the graduate student needs on their own campuses, and the ways in which their institutions have – or hope to – develop similar programs.

Elizabeth Manekin, Head of University Programs and Academic Projects, Ackland Art Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill

Brantly Moore, Object-Based Teaching Fellow, Ackland Art Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill

Alexandra Ziegler, Former Object-Based Teaching Fellow, Ackland Art Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill