Images and objects surround us in our everyday lives—from the advert on the bus to the heirloom in our grandmother’s living room—but are often left out of the classroom. Objects and photos engage students across many disciplines (education, anthropology, history, sociology, languages, etc.). By learning to look critically and evaluate an object’s construction and use, students learn to see the physical object and the ways it connects to the wider world.
There are a variety of ways to incorporate objects and photos in your teaching, and a growing body of literature on why and how to do so. On the IUB campus, the Mathers Museum is just one of the institutions that can help; its collections include more than 30,000 objects and 10,000 photos from every traditionally inhabited continent. Objects range from baskets and clothing to jewelry, weapons, and agricultural tools. They can be used by faculty from nearly any discipline to hone their students’ skills in observation, analysis, and research. We routinely host gallery tours that help students connect the building, objects, or photos to class concepts. For example, a retail merchandising professor uses our exhibit to discuss floorplans and lighting, while an ethnomusicology class comes to see the way a particular classification system is used.
Museums are powerful educational experiences when approached with a specific instructional goal in mind, and places like the Mathers Museum and Wylie House have staff to help you develop these experiences.
For a description of the collections or to contact a staff member, visit the Mathers Museum online.
– by Katie Kearns (CITL) and Sarah Hatcher (Head of Programs and Education, Mathers Museum of World Cultures)