In connection with the College’s fall 2017 semester theme, “Diversity, Difference, Otherness,” we have been thinking about ways we can teach about these themes by connecting classroom instruction with cultural centers. We talked with Sarah Hatcher from the Mathers Museum about her ideas and suggestions.
Q: How could a faculty member design an exercise around a specific museum experience, such as the “dressing the bride” demonstration at the Mathers Museum on September 16th?
A: The wedding regalia lends itself to subjects including history, folklore, anthropology, and design. For the social sciences I would ask students to compare and contrast the exhibit and the demonstration. Questions might include:
- Why are these garments important?
- How did seeing the clothes on a person change your thinking about them?
- What did you notice at the demonstration that you might not notice otherwise?
- What values are associated with these items?
- Explore the question of cultural exchange and culture change, what evidence do you see?
Q: What are other productive ways to facilitate students’ question-asking about items in your collection?
A: It is easy to ask the basic questions like “who, what, when or why,” but you can make a museum visit more pedagogically valuable by encouraging follow up questions based in visual evidence. Asking students to draw the object initially elicits close looking, revealing details that might have gone unnoticed. These details feed into observations and the development of more thoughtful questions as students document their observations, and make connections to coursework and readings. These questions then foster conversations that round it all out.
If you are interested in attending the exhibit, “A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community,” see more information about the event at the Mathers Museum events page. See the IUB College of Arts and Sciences webpage to learn more about the Themester goals and activities.
by Katie Kearns and Sarah Hatcher