Anthropology museum takes a turn in the right direction



Many students and members of the community aren’t aware of the Museum of Anthropology at Northern Kentucky University.

Kirstie Dannen, a museum intern and anthropology major, explains the purpose of the exhibit.

“The program here at NKU really covers all the bases in the field of anthropology,” said Dannen.

The Museum was started in 1976 by Dr. James Hopgood, who proved to the university that a museum dedicated to the study of anthropology was needed.

Dr. Barbra Field, a professor who played a large role in the opening of the museum, unfortunately passed away last year.  But with her passing, her main focus to spread the word about anthropology remained.

Diversity is present in the museum. When entering, there is an immediate exposure to multiple cultures.

Shawls and artifacts are showcased against walls, immediately giving a vibrant feeling to the museum. The artifacts all have a certain charm and history to them.

Judy Voelker, an associate professor of Anthropology at NKU and the curator of the museum, describes the ancient history behind their showcased artifacts.

“The oldest artifact that we have is from 1600 A.D., which is from the field school. Modern day pieces are from 50-80 years old,” said Voelker.

Voelker estimates that at a minimum there are representations of 60 different cultures in the museum. The museum has about 2,000 visitors a year, but with no regular hours, community days are treasured.

“The museum is almost like a personal collection for the community and the school,” said Voelker.

All of the artifacts in the museum are donated by the staff. Field had taken a trip to the Philippines where she brought back modern day artifacts such as knives, bowls, basketry, and bark wood.

Both Voelker and Dannen gave their views on their favorite cultures and artifacts in the museum.

“My research is in ceramics, so that would be my favorite,” Voelker said. “When I went to Southeast Asia, I came across many that I brought back to the museum. I also enjoy the northern Mexican culture.”

“I’m really a big fan of the Northwest Coast artifacts, but all the African and Mexican artifacts that we have I also really enjoy too,” said Dannen.

Regardless of what artifact is the most well-known, the Museum of Anthropology is certainly taking a turn in a direction that is attracting more people.

Savannah Deuer