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Museum of Anthropology

Museum of Anthropology opens exhibit on youth culture

This is a guest post from the Museum of Anthropology:Childhood-Mary-Good

What do children play with in Mexico? How do kids in Somalia learn to read? The Museum of Anthropology’s new long-term exhibit, “Childhood: Exploring Youth Culture Around the World,” answers these and other questions about children’s lives around the globe.

Among the featured artifacts are an early 20th century Chinese doll in the image of a famous opera singer and a Senegalese lunchbox lined with newspaper comic strips. The exhibit also includes a section for visitors to share comments about their memorable childhood experiences.

The exhibition was developed from the work of a Wake Forest class, “Anthropology of Childhood,” taught by Assistant Professor of Anthropology  Mary Good during the spring 2015 semester. Under Good’s direction, the students each selected objects from the museum’s collections in the categories of children’s clothing, education, dolls, games or toys. The students researched their artifacts and wrote label text.

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MOA welcomes new academic director

Wake Forest new faculty headshots, Thursday, August 13, 2015. Andrew Gurstelle.

Guest post from the Museum of Anthropology:

With the beginning of the fall semester at Wake Forest University, the Museum of Anthropology is very excited to welcome Dr. Andrew Gurstelle as academic director. Andrew is an anthropologist interested in the history and archaeology of West Africa. This interest intersects with museums and heritage in the Atlantic African diaspora, and how African peoples and objects are represented in museums throughout the world. In particular, his research explores how partnerships between international and community museums might be the key to safeguarding African cultural landscapes.

Since 2011, Andrew has been the Director of the Savè Hills Archaeological Research Project—an archaeology and oral-history project investigating the Shabe Yoruba kingdom in the Republic of Benin. Over the course of the project, interest in the research’s findings grew into a collaborative effort between archaeologists, local historians, and school teachers. The project culminated in an exhibition of archaeological findings as part of the 2015 Shabe Cultural Festival. Andrew has also conducted archaeological research in Ghana, Togo, and the Midwest United States.

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Sara Cromwell gets curious with latest MOA exhibit

Sara Cromwell, right, the assistant director of the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology, works on the exhibit Cabinet of Curiosities, with sophomore Lindsay Gilliland ('18), one of the students who curated the exhibit, in the museum on Monday, June 15, 2015.

Sara Cromwell, interim assistant director of the Museum of Anthropology, spearheaded an effort to give her student employees a chance to run an exhibit on their own while also giving the Museum a display unlike any it has had before. What resulted is the newest exhibit for the summer: MOA’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

The exhibit features nearly 80 exotic items hand-picked by the four student employees (and a Salem College student) and Cromwell. Other than that, Cromwell’s work with the project was deliberately limited, letting the students take control. “We looked at Cabinet of Curiosities as a way to reward the invaluable work of our student employees while simultaneously allowing them to improve upon their curatorial skills,” Cromwell explains. Her role was to answer any questions the students might have and help initially with the research of the objects. She also had help from museum educator Tina Smith throughout the process.

Cromwell came up with the theme of a cabinet of curiosities to create a space for objects from the Museum’s vast collection that haven’t been displayed before. Cabinets of curiosities, or wunderkammem (wonder rooms), originated as private collections of exotic and extraordinary objects in mid-sixteenth century Europe. Looking for a way to verify their wealth, individuals displayed as many foreign objects as they could in a jam-packed room of their home. The items represent a diverse group of disciplines such as fine art, natural history and anthropology. These displays served as precursors to modern museums.

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Whittington accepts position at National Mining Hall of Fame

20120117anthropology7378Stephen L. Whittington, director of Wake Forest’s Museum of Anthropology, has accepted a position as executive director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colo.

As of March 3, Sara Cromwell will serve as interim assistant director and will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Museum. Steven Folmar, assistant professor of anthropology, will serve as interim academic director.

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Bryner elected to vice-chair position

Kyle BrynerKyle Elizabeth Bryner, the registrar and collections manager at the Museum of Anthropology, has been elected as the vice-chair of the Southeastern Registrars Association (SERA).

The Southeastern Registrars Association (SERA) encourages high standards of museum practice and fosters professional growth among museum registrars in the southeastern region of the United States. SERA promotes the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas through educational seminars, publications and other means. SERA initiates and supports activities and projects which help create an atmosphere of cooperation and communication among and between registrars, other museum professionals, and those in related service fields, and pursues further development of professional practices in the field.

September 2013 comings & goings

See a list of employees joining and leaving the University in September 2013: Continue reading »

Whittington has active role at conference

Stephen WhittingtonStephen Whittington, the director of the Museum of Anthropology, participated in a panel discussion entitled “Under the Umbrella: Museums Governed by Larger Organizations” at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Museums Conference in Savannah, Ga., on Oct. 8. Whittington, who is the regional representative for the Southeast on the board of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, also hosted a reception for AAMG members and organized a meeting of AAMG state representatives.

MOA will hold 50th anniversary gala

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) will continue to celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall. The anniversary date of the Museum’s opening was Monday, Sept. 23, which was the first day of classes in 1963.

A Golden Anniversary Gala is planned for Saturday, Oct. 19, from 6-8 p.m. Patrons will enjoy a culinary tour of the world, featuring heavy hors d’oeuvres relating to each of the museum’s exhibits, wine and beer. As the Gala is being held in conjunction with Wake Forest’s Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, alumni are welcome to come straight from the game.

Tickets are $30 each ($20 for MOA Friends). To purchase tickets, please contact Sara Cromwell at 336.758.5282 or For more information, see the MOA website.

Whittington’s work uncovers the mysteries of Cerro Amole

Steve Whittington (right) worked on GPS mapping with Kate Yeske (‘07, left).

Steve Whittington (right) worked on GPS mapping with Kate Yeske (‘07, left).

What can pieces of pottery and a GPS-generated map tell us about a past civilization? Since 2000, Steve Whittington, adjunct associate professor of anthropology and director of the Museum of Anthropology, has been helping to uncover the mysteries of the Mixtec people through archeological survey and excavations in Southwestern Mexico’s state of Oaxaca. This spring, Whittington, along with Wake Forest graduate Kate Yeske (‘07) and Mexican colleagues, used powerful GPS equipment to map structures of an ancient Mixtec city, partially hidden beneath layers of dirt and pine needles on top of Cerro Amole, a heavily forested mountain.

The core of the project is to record archaeological remains within the area of the Mapa de Teozacoalco, an early Colonial map of the mountainous region made in 1577. Cerro Amole appears on the map with a two-tiered building and red cross on top of it.

More information

Whittington’s published work about his research on Cerro Amole entitled “El Mapa de Teozacoalco: An Early Colonial Guide to Cultural Transformations” (2003, PDF) was featured in the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) Archaeological Record.

The archaeologists mapped the locations of mounds, stone walls, pottery, the vestiges of abandoned palaces, temples, and the second largest ritual ball court in Oaxaca, Whittington said.

“Archaeologists working in Oaxaca generally believe the Mixtec people lived on mountaintops with monumental architecture during the Classic period of 300 to 900 AD,” said Whittington, “but by getting a better look at the structures and analyzing artifacts like pottery, we are finding compelling evidence that they lived on top of this mountain for a relatively short span, from about 1085 to 1321, during the Postclassic period.”

Whittington hopes to return to the site next May to finish mapping the mountain and expand his GPS survey to multiple municipalities in the area.

Museum of Anthropology to participate in Forsyth Photo Adventure

Wake Forest University Museum of AnthropologyThe Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is one of 13 local attractions participating in the second annual Forsyth Photo Adventure contest. Residents can enter to win the grand prize of a $250 VISA gift card by visiting any or all of the participating attractions and taking photos now through July 4.

“There are a lot of great places to visit in our area. We’re encouraging people to visit these family-friendly attractions where you can learn, play, and just get out and enjoy what Forsyth County has to offer,” said MOA staff member Sara Cromwell, who is also president of the Association of Visitor Attractions of Forsyth County (AVA), sponsor of the contest.

To enter, visitors must post their photos to each attraction’s Facebook page. Entrants will be qualified to win individual prize packs awarded by each attraction, as well as the grand prize of the VISA gift card.  Each attraction will select their winner as the photo judged to best show “fun” at that attraction.

The Museum of Anthropology will award a MOA Friends family membership to its winner.  The Forsyth Photo Adventure’s $250 winner will be randomly selected from the names of all official entrants posting at any of the attractions. “The more sites at which you post, the better your chances are to win the gift card,” Cromwell said. In all, 13 prize packs will be awarded in addition to the selecting of a grand prize gift card-winning entry. Continue reading »