A Hidden Gem

Founded in 1964, the Anthropology Museum has been a hidden gem on campus for nearly half a century. The museum boasts a  permanent collection of approximately 12,000 objects, with strengths in regions such as Southeast Asia, Africa, and Greece; and strives to foster curiosity, enjoyment, and increased understanding and appreciation of anthropology and its subfields within the university and  surrounding communities.

Formerly located in the Stevens Building, the museum re-opened in its new home, Cole Hall, in early 2012. “The new Anthropology Museum is an inviting place,” says Jennifer Kirker-Priest, museum director. “NIU invested heavily in the new museum, providing professional museum-quality exhibit cases, an HVAC system, special lighting, and security systems.”

Click for a video on the museum's re-opening

Since its re-opening, the number of visitors to the museum has doubled, as the NIU community has become more aware of the museum’s offerings. “Students work at the museum in a number of ways, from exhibit concept and installation, to original collections research and conservation,” notes Kirker-Priest, continuing, “Faculty also demonstrate increasing awareness of the museum, as they request objects to use in course instruction or send students to visit exhibits that reinforce course concepts.”

The museum offers ways for alumni to get involved as well. Kirker-Priest explains, “Volunteers are welcome to work with museum staff on a variety of projects. We are currently in the process of moving thousands of objects from temporary to permanent storage. Volunteers are needed to help unpack objects, photograph objects, and help rehouse the entire collection in its new home.” The museum also seeks volunteers to help establish an advisory board to provide the museum with strategic business and marketing oversight.

Visitors to the museum in winter 2013 will be able to enjoy two different exhibitions: “Rarely Seen Southeast Asia: Art, Artifact, Ephemera” and “The Legacy of Tawantinsuyu: Andean Artistic Traditions Past and Present.” In addition, Kirker-Priest notes that plans are in development to celebrate the museum’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

More information on the Anthropology Museum