Final Product Examples


  • Connect with my Loss: The Museum of Broken Relationships as an Empathetic Insti…

    By Melissa Mayhew (2021) As contemporary museums increasingly desire to add empathetic dimensions to their exhibits and receive the benefits of relating with their audiences, there is an assumption that it is the content itself that triggers an empathetic response. While this is often the case, empathy also occurs between audiences and museums as much as between audiences and content. This is because empathy is a response centered on relationships. This paper examines one such museum that exemplifies this: The Museum of Broken Relationships. By collapsing the distinction between collection and exhibition, visitor and artist, the MoBR encourages a sense of empowerment and expression rarely possible in traditional museum environments.

  • A Museum in Possession of a Nazi-Looted Painting: A Case Study 

    By Conner Mulkey (2019) Since the end of World War II, Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims have searched for, identified and sought the return of artworks stolen from their collections by the Nazis. For as long as these families have sought the repatriation of these artworks, however, museums and individuals who have found themselves in possession of such artworks after their theft have expended every legal argument and loophole available to retain possession of the works. This case study examines the history of a single painting, Camille Pissarro’s La bergère rentrant des moutons (Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep): its theft during the Nazi occupation of France in 1941, the strange journey it took before being donated to the University of Oklahoma in 2000, and the controversy that was sparked when the daughter of the original owners (Léone Meyer) sued for its return.

  • Betwixt and Between: Bridging the Gap between Field and Repository

    By Meghan Grizzle (2019) All too often, archaeologists have viewed curation as a process that manages, rather than investigates, archaeological collections. The resulting curation crisis is the result of a serious imbalance between the continued generation of field collections and a corresponding lack of standards, best practices, resources and facilities devoted to accessioning, analyzing, reporting, curating and otherwise caring for archaeological collections. Researchers mistakenly prioritize ‘interpretation at the trowel’s edge’ with emphasis on excavation, field work and subsequent research, without considering the downstream issues of data standards, best practices and how and where the objects they excavate will be stored (collection management). Researchers, educators, and the general public will remain unable to reap the benefits of their cultural and historical significance until archaeologists and museum professionals can work together to determine a long-term strategy for the efficient management and care of these collections.

  • The Indigenous Arts Archive: Indigenizing the Spencer Museum of Art’s Database

    By Katelyn Trammell (2019) The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas stewards over 3,000 works by Native North American peoples. Spencer employees have documented these objects, along with another 7,500 art works in the Global Indigenous Collections. However, for objects made by Indigenous peoples, there is more to the story than what museum professionals can tell. The Indigenous Arts Archive, on online web application hosted by the Spencer hopes to remedy this issue. The goals of the Indigenous Arts Archive (IAA), are to include Indigenous voices in the Spencer’s database, MuseumPlus; to treat Indigenous knowledge as equal to academic knowledge; to build relationships with Indigenous communities and individuals; and to increase the use of the Spencer’s Native North American collections.

  • Content Preservation and Digitization of Maps Housed in the KU Natural History …

    By Ross Kerr (2017) The purpose of this research is to explain the obstacles museums face in preserving map collections, as well as the steps museums can take to overcome these obstacles. The research begins with a brief history of paper conservation of maps in museums and libraries, and digitization of maps. Next, there is an explanation of the theoretical framework/approach that is used in this project. Following that is a presentation of a SWOT analysis of the archaeological map collection held by the KU Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum. The first two components of the SWOT analysis, strengths and weaknesses, focus on advantages and shortcomings of the collection in its current state. The last two components, opportunities and threats, focus respectively on the benefits that can be expected from preserving the map collection, and the obstacles that may hinder process. Finally, the study outlines a procedure for preserving and digitizing the archaeological maps held by the KU Biodiversity Institute, in order to expand accessibility to the collection.

  • Controversy and Collaboration: Recommendations for Using the Participatory Muse…

    By Rebecca Younker (2017) Contemporary American society is fraught with racial tension, making representation of all races and cultures an especially poignant issue. Museums are places where comprehensive narrative interpretations can result in facilitated dialogue among visitors of different races and cultures. This can, in turn, lead individuals to a deeper understanding of their identities in the context of today’s society and develop an ability for interracial and intercultural communication. This paper explores why using the participatory museum model will help cultural institutions embrace and learn from potentially controversial exhibits by including diverse perspectives of communities outside the museum. This is based on the premise that collaboration and communication with diverse groups of people will allow those involved to discuss ideas openly and work through points of contention as they arise.

  • Saving Historical Museums from the Grave: Making Museums More Resilient

    By Rebecca Dickman (2016) In the past ten years, over fifty museums have closed in the United States. These have ranged from large history museums to medium-sized science centers to small niche museums. They were located in both urban, suburban and rural areas. Fifty museums closing is a very small number compared to the 35,000 museums in the U.S. in 2014, but any museum closing is unfortunate. This paper will cover the problems history museums are facing and introduce resilience as a goal for museums to work toward. Museums can make efforts to become more resilient by collaborating with other institutions and serving as an active partner in their community. Following are five case studies of successful museum collaborations and examples of what some museums are doing to serve their community. Next is an explanation of how social capital can be used to build and maintain collaborations. Finally, the paper will cover the factors leading to a successful collaboration and potential barriers to collaboration, along with a call for museum professionals to do more research on the topic of collaboration.

  • Improving Access at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute Division of…

    By Brecken Liebl (2016) This paper begins with an historical background of the archaeological collections at the University of Kansas and a description of the Division of Archaeology as it stands today. From there, it defines what access is, what improved access means for the division, and who improvements are for. Next, a SWOT analysis is carried out and strategies are subsequently developed. Finally, the benefits of improved access for researchers at the Division of Archaeology are discussed.

  • 10 Steps to Social Justice: A Guide to Engaging in Successful and Dynamic Museu…

    By Suzi Decker (2016) Today’s museums are eager to become a more relevant force in the struggle for social justice through the use of their programming and decision-making. Unfortunately, implementing these socially oriented programs for the first time can often be complex and confusing, even treacherous. The lack of a comprehensive manual to museum social work, one that details best practices and recommends specific approaches from experienced professionals, is a disservice to the field and to these institutions. This guide aspires to fill that role. It will direct museum professionals and other stakeholders to the most important qualities of successful museum social work and deliver ten achievable steps for making it work at their own institutions. This guide will also describe the two categories of museum social work – conversational and provisional – explain their importance, and suggest the best methods for implementing both.

  • A Brief History of the Mobile Museum: What it is, what it was, and what it can …

    By Jamie Rees (2016) The KU Mobile Collaboratory (stylized as the MoCOLAB) is a mobile space conceptualized as “KU’s community classroom on wheels.” In January 2012, professors Nils Gore and Shannon Criss were inspired by a call for a space that could be moved as needed to aid in conducting community research. It was conceived out of the realization that many faculty, staff, and students at the University of Kansas conduct research and projects that are firmly embedded in the community. Much of this research relies on close cooperation and input from the community. In 2013, a 1972 31-foot Airstream Land Yacht was purchased with funding through a university Strategic Initiative Level II grant, then redesigned and constructed as a part of an architectural design studio class. Ideally, the MoCOLAB space can be utilized in a variety of ways and has been designed with a “high degree of flexibility” and accessibility in its efforts to work with and engage the community on and off the KU campus.

  • Lowering Barriers to User-Control: Considerations for Museum Visitors with Seve…

    By Kayle Rieger (2016) Surveying the current state of museum accessibility to visitors with severe mental illnesses, this report aims to illuminate an almost entirely invisible issue. While many museums nationwide are creating special programs for families of children on the autism spectrum, adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and even adults with post-traumatic stress disorder, visitors with many more marginalized forms of severe and persistent mental health issues are largely neglected. These disorders include major depression, child and adolescent depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and many others. Stigma may slowly be eroding, but that audience still remains “untouchable.” However, museums can offer great benefits to individuals living with severe mental illnesses. This study will outline ways that museums can reorient how they think about accessibility within their walls in order to offer more universally accessible, supportive, and constructive experiences to visitors living with severe mental illnesses.