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Museum Studies Welcomes Dr. Peter H. Welsh as New Director

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This August, the Museum Studies program at KU will welcome Dr. Peter H. Welsh as Director of Museum Studies. Dr. Welsh, who holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, brings more than 30 years of museum management and academic experience to the position.

His accomplishments in the museum studies field are diverse. In the 1980s he was one of the creators of the innovative argus collections management system at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles— argus has since been adopted and used by many museums worldwide. He has curated numerous exhibits, including Exotic Illusions: Art, Romance, and the Marketplace, which received the American Association of Museum Curators’ Committee Award for Excellence in 1989, and was selected by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service for a national tour. Dr. Welsh has held leadership positions with the Council for Museum Anthropology, and the Museum Association of Arizona. While serving as Chief Curator of the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Dr. Welsh helped organize the National Dialog on Museum-Native American Relations and participated in the discussions that ultimately led to NAGPRA.

Dr. Welsh has published widely on topics that include cultural property, museum interpretation, museum studies theory, and museums in society. He led the graduate museum studies program at Arizona State University for 15 years, while also serving as the inaugural Director of the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, a museum, nature preserve and archaeological site with a concentration of Native American rock art. As part of his work with the Rock Art Center, Welsh organized field research teams to record the rock art on the Agua Fria National Monument, which led to advances in the efficiency and accuracy of rock art field methodology.

In 2008, Dr. Welsh returned to Museum work full time as the Director of the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park. During his time with the AHS, Dr. Welsh strengthened partnerships with area agencies and groups while emphasizing engagement with current issues. He also helped organize discussions among Phoenix area museum leaders to identify ways to share resources, combine marketing efforts, and build a strong multi-institutional coalition.

Dr. Welsh is tremendously excited by the many opportunities presented by KU’s Museum Studies program. The broad-based support already evident across the university is a clear indicator that the program can rise rapidly into the top tier of the country’s museum studies training programs. Beginning this fall, Dr. Welsh will be working with museum studies faculty, advisors, and students to refine the program’s vision and direction, with the aim of shaping a program that effectively prepares students to enter the museum profession and rise rapidly into positions of leadership. He will be reaching out to faculty whose work intersects with museum studies—broadly conceived—as well as connecting with departments, schools, and centers to explore new collaborations in research and teaching.

Dr. Welsh sees museums as having the potential to play a critical role in encouraging community discourse and building social cohesion. With that in mind, he views it as vital that students acquire not only a comprehensive overview of the field and a solid grounding in contemporary museum practice, but also that they are fully aware of current issues facing museums and have been encouraged to explore new and innovative approaches in the field. It is his goal that graduates from KU’s Museum Studies program will be able to take on future challenges with knowledge, imagination, confidence, and enthusiasm, and to become leaders in their chosen field.

Toward this end, Dr. Welsh has plans for increasing external funding and support for research and program opportunities that would increase student involvement and collaboration. He expects that students at every level will have the chance to participate in developing new and innovative approaches in the field. Before long, he believes, the KU Museum Studies program can become one that is unrivaled in the country.

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Museum Events

Art Cart: Painted Fans
Saturday, January 20 | 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317
1301 Mississippi St.
The Art Cart is a drop-in activity station where children and grown-ups enjoy hands-on art projects together, taking inspiration from original works of art. After traveling the world, Sallie Casey Thayer donated her collection of objects to KU to form what is now the Spencer Museum of Art. Learn about Mrs. Thayer and create a painted folding fan to start your own collection.

Slow Art Sunday: Steel Wool Peignoir
Sunday, January 21 | 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Kemper Family Foundations Balcony, 408
1301 Mississippi St.
Slow down at the Spencer and spend time getting to know one great work of art. Slow Art Sunday features one work for visitors to contemplate and converse about with Museum staff. In January, get to know Steel Wool Peignoir by Mimi Smith.

Science on Tap: The Cambrian: More than just Trilobites
Wednesday, January 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts St.
The Cambrian is a time in Earth’s history when many modern animal relatives make their first appearance. It is also a time when many bizarre animals without modern relatives appear in the fossil record. At this Science on Tap, Dr. Julien Kimmig will talk about the diversity of animals during this amazing period and what it can teach us about the future of life on earth. 

Career Close-ups: Developing a Career in the Museum World
Friday, January 26 | 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Auditorium 309
1301 Mississippi St.
Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to explore how any major can lead to a career in a cultural organization. A panel of museum professionals will share their experiences, followed by a networking reception and behind-the-scenes tours of KU’s museums. This year’s panelists include: Dina Bennett (Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University), Glenn North (Black Archives of Mid-America), and Adrianne Russell (Cabinet of Curiosities). Advance registration is required at www.spencerart.ku.edu/career-closeups. Please register by January 24. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/476618689399321/
Sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, University Career Center, and the Museum Studies Program.

Final Friday: Community and Culture Closing Celebration
Friday, January 26 | 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with the Max Kade Center and the Lawrence Opera Theatre, present an evening of 19th-century German-American music and cuisine.

Discovery Day: Celebrating Kansas
Sunday, January 28 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
In honor of Kansas Day, join us for hands-on activities that are all about Kansas wildlife, plants and fossils. 

Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture: An Evening with Eve L. Ewing: Poetry in Context
Wednesday, January 31 | 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist, poet, essayist, artist, and educator whose research focuses on racism, social inequality, urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. Dr. Ewing earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is recognized as a leader and social influencer, especially in conversations involving academia, writing, black women, and the intersection of politics and popular culture. Sponsored by The Commons.

University in the Art Museum for Graduate Students
Thursday, February 1 | 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St.
University in the Art Museum introduces graduate students to opportunities for object-based teaching, learning, and research through collaborative partnerships with the Spencer Museum of Art. This workshop includes discussions led by graduate students in the departments of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Geography; and Atmospheric Science. Advance registration is required by Monday, January 29. Register online at https://spencerart.ku.edu/uam.

Extraordinary Animals: Awesome Adaptations
Sunday, February 4 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
At this new monthly animal event, parents and children are invited to learn about animals of Kansas. Museum Animal Specialist Ashley Welton will offer presentations about animal adaptations using touchable specimens from the museums collections at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 pm. 

FeBREWary at the Watkins
Thursday, February 15 | 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with Lawrence Beer Co., presents an evening of beer, food, and knowledge! Enjoy beer and a fascinating talk on brewing provided by Lawrence Beer Co., plus food from local restaurants and an informal museum tour. Tickets are $15 for DCHS members, $20 for non-members. You may sign up online or contact the museum at 785-841-4109. We recommend buying in advance. Ages 21 and over only, please. More information and registration.

Winter Table: An Evening of Herpetology
Wednesday, February 28 | 6:30 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
A celebration of more than 100 years of KU herpetology research programs and the careers of Linda Trueb and Bill Duellman. Explore the Natural History Museum's reptile and amphibian collections and enjoy appetizers and drinks. Dine in the Panorama Gallery with KU herpetology scientists and students conducting reptile and amphibian research across the globe. 

6:30 pm: appetizers, drinks and science salon
7:00 pm: dinner and program
$50 per person 

Reserve your space now at the 2018 Winter Table by ordering tickets online. Tickets are $50 per person. You may also call 785-864-4450 to purchase by phone or you may purchase tickets at the museum lobby during business hours. Questions? Contact biodiversity@ku.edu or 785-864-4450.

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