Papers Panel: The Mizzou Material Culture Group: Convergences among Libraries, Archives and Museums at the University of Missouri
In 2013, a group of material culture professionals – librarians, archivists, and curators from seven different research collections at the University of Missouri – came together for a common purpose: to educate the campus community about the value and potential of teaching with objects. The collections represented include:
- University Libraries Department of Special Collections and Rare Books
- State Historical Society of Missouri
- Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection
- Museum of Art and Archaeology
- Museum of Anthropology
- Department of Art’s George Caleb Bingham Gallery
- Mizzou Botanic Garden
Working with a broad definition of material culture across a wide range of disciplines and collecting interests, the group’s first collaboration was a lightning round panel on object-based learning at the University’s annual teaching conference. After the panel was over, we established a working group on material culture in the curriculum and have since made presentations on object-based learning and teaching about diverse perspectives in the curriculum to educators in the university and the local public school system.
Working together has allowed us to democratize our collections’ reach, as several group members have collaborated to provide programming and hands-on activities for local children and families at public events. Several collaborative exhibitions, in various gallery spaces, have also grown out of this working group. To further extend our reach, in fall 2017, Dr. Sarah Buchanan offered an eight-week, for-credit course based on the group’s membership, with students exploring a different collection each week.
The panel will include a talk by Dr. Buchanan on the course and exhibit, as well as overviews of successful teaching and outreach collaborations from the viewpoint of several other members. The presentations will share what we’ve learned over four years of working together and outline directions for future collaborations that can be applied on our campus or elsewhere.