Museum proves to be a hidden gem at NKU



Northern Kentucky University’s anthropology museum was established in 1976 by Dr. James Hopgood. While it is a small exhibit, over 60 different cultures are represented, with over 200 objects on display and around 1,800 artifacts in total.

Many of the artifacts on display are still used within their societies. The museum focuses mostly on the underrepresented non-western world. It was designed to give a deeper understanding of cultures around the world, and an appreciation of diversity.

Kirsty Dannen, an intern for the anthropology museum, is grateful that the exhibit allows her to connect with other countries.

“It lets me learn about other people in the world, and how their culture is different from mine,” said Dannen. “It can clue us in on how other societies and cultures function differently from ours, and what is important to them.”

Dr. Judy Voelker, an associate professor and archeologist, has taken five different trips to Thailand with students. While there they study the archeology of the region.

Voelker has studied in Thailand, Cambodia, and Canada. Usually her trips last about two to three weeks, though sometimes up to five. In Thailand they partake in post-excavation analysis. Artifacts from around 2000 B.C. to 500 A.D. are stored in the Former King’s Palace. Post-excavation analysis involves photography, descriptions, measurements, and categorization.

“It is a way of showing examples of other peoples and their lifestyle, so that it becomes more familiar to people here,” explained Voelker. “As well as when I take students abroad… or others in different parts of the world will get to know Americans and people from this region. It starts as a basis of communication.”

By getting out into the field and working with Thai women potters, who do not use wheels, Voelker can also gain an understanding of how the pots are made. From there the pots can be studied scientifically by examining the materials in the clay. The study of their modern day processes can provide information as to how these people used to live.

Lydia Human