Mathers Museum takes on major role in summer workshop series

The end of spring semester does not mark the end of activity at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

The museum will open an international summer institute focused on museums in the landscape of the changing world, according to an IU Newsroom press release.

“Museums at the Crossroads: Local Encounters, Global Knowledge” begins May 14 and continues through May 21.

The main focus is exploring three key issues museums in the 21st century face, according to the release.

Eric Sandweiss, Carmony Chair in the Department of History and editor of the Indiana Magazine of History, and Jason Baird Jackson, associate professor of folklore and director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, organized and facilitated the institute.

“This project leverages Indiana University’s resources in both humanities scholarship and museum practice,” Sandweiss said in the release. “It marries global theorists and scholars with practitioners and students and asks what each can teach the other.”

Attendees of the workshop series will spend eight days exploring various museums and participating in workshops led by professionals in the museum sphere.

Participating museums include Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the T.C. Steele State Historic Site and the Indiana State Museum.

The Mathers Museum will play a special role in the program.

“The Mathers Museum and its unique collections will serve as a source of workshop case studies as participants explore cultural transmission and global change within specific spaces and with particular artifacts,” according to the release.

The first issue that will be discussed during the institute is titled “Cultural Crossroads: World Cultures in Transition.”

In this first workshop, attendees will explore the challenge of understanding interconnected and global cultures.

The lecture for this part of the series will be given by Michael Brown, president of the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, N.M.

The release stated Brown will address globalization, localization and the consequences of mass migrations of people across states.

The second issue, “Disciplinary Crossroads: Scholarly Method and the Evolving Sociology of Knowledge,” delves into the challenge of uniting disciplines within the museum scene: adapting traditional disciplines within a museum to foster an interdisciplinary environment.

Stephan Fuchs, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, will deliver the lecture.

Fuchs will discuss some popular disciplines within museums — history, anthropology, folklore, natural science and art — in terms of their evolution and relationship with each other.

The final issue falls under the subhead “Artifactual Crossroads: Real Meets Virtual.”

This final workshop and lecture will address the challenge of the slow transition and unity between categories such as virtual and real.

Haidy Geismar, director of the digital anthropology program at England’s University College London, will take attendees through the information revolution.

Geismar will start with origins in print and move through the concepts of how deliverance of information has changed over time with technology, as well as how learning and teaching have been affected by these changes.

“Museums at a Crossroads” will make IU a fundamental part of the national and international discussions in terms of museums, according to the release.

“‘Museums at a Crossroads’ ... promises to make IU a key locus in an evolving global discussion of museums as tangible, concrete sites in which to understand and interpret the otherwise overwhelming scale of global social change,” Sandweiss said in the release.

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