Students, Storytelling and the Power of Collections: There’s More to What You See

Published: April 23, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The true value of museum collections is in the stories they preserve and inspire. Such narratives connect us with our past, root us in the present and help us look to the future — in intellectual and emotional ways. Over the past year, OHIO students in the Museum Studies Certificate Program have worked to develop an exhibition that demonstrates the fundamental idea that storytelling, supported by research, is the essence of the interpretive process.

Each year, students drawn from disciplines across campus participate in the certificate program, learning valuable skills and creating an exhibition utilizing fascinating items from collections including those of the Kennedy Museum of Art (KMA), the Southeast Ohio History Center, and the OHIO Museum Complex and departments across the campus. Museum Studies Instructor, and Director of the KMA, Edward E. Pauley observes, “The program works because students, academics, museum and library professionals collaborate as a united team.”

OHIO Professor Nancy J. Stevens co-Leads the OHIO Museum Complex with Pauley, adding “This exhibition reflects the transdisciplinary spirit of creative and scientific inquiry, connecting ideas through time in compelling new ways.”

Athens is home to a remarkable diversity of unique collections, making it an ideal training ground for students interested in museums and the learning that they inspire. According to ‍Jessica Cyders, Director of the Southeast Ohio History Center, "Every year, we are delighted to see how the students interpret the items from our collection in new ways, and to see them displayed beside objects from the KMA, University Archives, and campus collections."

O'Connor Lab
Featured in the exhibition courtesy of the O’Connor Lab: Skull of Simosuchus clarki, an early crocodyliform from Madagascar believed to have been herbivorous because of its unusual clover-shaped teeth.

The Museum Studies Certificate Program—offered through the School of Art + Design in the College of Fine Arts—is for students interested in pursuing a career in museums or an advanced museum degree program and is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all majors.

“The program provided a wonderful hands-on opportunity for students from various majors and programs to work together on a professional project while learning about different aspects of running a museum and creating public exhibitions," said graduate student Hope Moore.

Due to limitations imposed by COVID-19, the OHIO Museum Complex has launched a Virtual Portal. The Museum Studies class of 2019-20 also embraced a new platform, presenting their work as a virtual exhibition. To that end, they developed and designed a website to showcase their efforts, and allowing their exhibit to be explored by Bobcats near and far.

The exhibition, entitled Janus: There’s More to What You See, is the sixth in the annual series of Museum Studies student exhibitions known as Merging Concepts.

Experience it here:

The Kennedy Museum of Art enhances the quality of life in our community by presenting engaging exhibitions, fostering collaborations, and providing opportunities for object-based learning. Throughout the year, the Museum mounts a variety of exhibitions from its collections as well as collections on loan.

The Ohio University Museum Complex connects science and the environment to everyday life through transdisciplinary exhibits dedicated to interactive exploration of contemporary issues. It uses a teaching-museum model to enhance science literacy and to promote health and well-being for the Ohio University community, southeastern Ohio, and throughout the region.