New MPC exhibit: Returning to Bethlehem

The Middle East is more than a conflict zone—it’s a region of cultural beauty.

The BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures‘ newest exhibit “Returning to Bethlehem: A Cultural Pilgrimage” highlights the unique religious and cultural aspects of life in Palestine, and Bethlehem in particular, that color the region’s history and guide local traditions and identity. The exhibit has visitors explore modern-day Bethlehem, as well as the historic cultural heritage sites shaped by Hebrew, Christian and Islamic traditions.

From olive wood and mother of pearl carvings, to intricately embroidered wedding costumes, the exhibit presents artistic pieces that illustrate the similarities and differences of the people from different regions and religions in Palestine including Bethlehem, Gaza and Jerusalem, among others.

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One of the central foci of the exhibit are traditional Palestinian wedding costumes. While wedding costumes share a similar design throughout Palestine, specific characteristics such as colors, embroidery stiles and ornaments are unique to each region. Certain aspects of Bethlehem’s culture are being lost due to regional conflict, but textiles help keep cultural traditions and identity alive.

The exhibit is a joint project between the Museum of Peoples and Cultures and the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Mother of pearl collections were loaned from Enrique Yidi Daccarett, olive wood carvings were loaned from the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation and costumes and textiles were loaned from Hanan and Farah Munayyer, co-founders of the Palestine Heritage Foundation.

People often go on pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to see and visit the holy sites, but Bethlehem is more than a place to visit—it’s a home for thousands of individuals and a beautiful culture.

Explore and better understand the culture, traditions and people of Bethlehem and Palestine at the MPC exhibit “Returning to Bethlehem: A Cultural Pilgrimage.” Learn about the rich ancient history that forms current arts and traditions today. As we inform ourselves on the diverse religious and cultural influences in Bethlehem, we’ll have a better understanding and respect for the people who live there, helping us make more informed decisions and opinions concerning the region.

The exhibit opens October 17, 2018 and will run through April 2018. Admission is free, and the exhibit is open to the public. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on the exhibit and other events and exhibits at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, visit their website.

Printing with purpose: 3D printing enhancing knowledge, research and learning

Archaeology doesn’t always live up to its Hollywood fame—you don’t always bring the cool artifacts home like Indiana Jones.

But with new technology, we can do the next best thing.

Robert Bischoff is a recently graduated BYU master’s student who focuses on this technology.

Focusing his studies on the people of the Southwestern United States, Bischoff has been able to take Fremont and Ancestral Pueblo artifacts away from archaeology sites and into the hands of research colleagues and Museum of Peoples and Cultures visitors through 3D printing and modeling.

The first 3D printer was used in the 1980s by Charles W. Hull to make mechanical part prototypes.

Today, the uses of 3D printers have expanded to replicating artifacts, documenting historic landscapes, and building archaeological models.

In the past, students and researchers were limited to studying artifacts at excavation sites and presenting and teaching the public with 2D photographs. But with 3D printing, archeologists can tangibly share their knowledge as they bring copies of artifacts to conferences, campuses and museums.

When Bischoff and his peers excavated a site in Goshen, Utah where all the artifacts legally belonged to the landowner, they were able to make 3D models of basketry impressions to continue studying their findings. Other students are reconstructing clay lamps and figurines from Petra, Jordan.

Bischoff’s favorite project (so far) was doing 3D modeling of Pilling Figurines.

 

The benefits of this technology expand to students and community residents as they visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Individuals get to handle replicas of artifacts from around the world without risking any harm to the artifacts themselves. Allowing people to touch, handle (and sometimes drop), and see demonstrations with these printed replicas elevates off-site archaeological learning to the next level.

While 3D printing has already expanded the archaeological world, Bischoff notes that archaeologists are always adapting new technology to do even more.

BYU research archaeologist Scott Ure was an early adopter of using drones to take aerial photographs and then processing these photographs into 3D models. This inventive approach provides opportunities for documenting large landscapes and identifying features that cannot be seen from the ground. Ure has created a number of 3D replications of archaeology sites that allow researchers to better understand what is on the ground. As this specific approach evolves, archaeologists will be able to more easily record the exact shapes, dimensions, and appearance of archaeology sites and preserve and share these sites and artifacts digitally.

Another perk to 3D modeling: instead of carefully planning and packing for the transportation of models and artifacts around the world, models can be shared digitally to be shared with the public and archaeologists conducting research across the world.

“Communicating our results to the public is one of the most important things we do, and new technology allows us to do so more effectively,” shares Bischoff.  “New technology [allows] us to discover more sites and to better document and preserve them so we can share what we find with the public.”

Step into models of actual archaeological sites and handle the printed replicas of artifacts that create our history at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures.

Museum camp participants drop artifacts (to learn the importance of artifact care)

During the 2018 BYU Museum Camp, camp-goers dropped several artifacts…to learn the importance of artifact care!

The artifact drop (think of an egg drop but with festive ceramic holiday decorations from the Dollar Tree) was just one of the many activities that individuals were able to participate in during the camp. While not all artifacts survived the drop, campers learned preservation techniques and the importance of proper artifact storage.

As one camper shared, BYU Museum Camp allowed youth to do lots of “museum stuff”.

daily hearld2Camp participants got a special behind-the-scenes look at each of BYU’s four campus museums. They replicated fossil and worked with paleontologists in the lab at the Paleontology Museum, learned about building and planning exhibits at the Museum of Art and the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, and learned more about Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum collections behind closed doors.

Throughout the camp, youth were able to create and build their own exhibit displays at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. The first session of campers titled their exhibit “Before Bach” and displayed a number of musical instrument artifacts from the museums.The second session of campers made their final exhibit on animals from around the world.

Museum Camp provided youth with an interest in the museums, art, paleontology, anthropology or biology with experience in the museum world as they learned new skills and challenged their creativity. For many campers, this experience motivated them to consider working in museums in the future.

“I think this would be a great college job!” shared one camper.

Another camper shared that her dream job is to work in a classical art museum.

IMG_1528BYU is passionate about providing experiential learning opportunities to all of its students. At Museum Camp, BYU staff extend experiential learning to youth in the community as well. Museum Camp provides an opportunity to share BYU knowledge and resources with potential students and even the chance to occasionally drop some artifacts.

The Museum of Peoples and Cultures hosts a variety of events and activities in addition to Museum Camps, including date nights, family home evening activities, as well as special summer programs and events. For more information on MPC events and activities, please contact mpc@byu.edu.

The Museum of People and Cultures is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open to the public and general admission is free except for specified programs and events.

History, Culture, Art, Oh My! 2018 BYU Museum Day Camp

It’s not every day that that you get a behind-the-scenes view of BYU’s four campus museums.

This June, BYU will hold its Museum Day Camp for youth between the ages of 13-16 to help teens with an interest in museums, museum careers, art, paleontology, anthropology, or biology broaden their horizons and expand their creativity and skills. The camp will guide youth through the curation, collection and research, and education and outreach processes involved in the museum world.

Organized by the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, the camp looks to offer youth a taste of what it’s like to work in a museum (while having lots of fun in the process). Throughout the week, participants will also work on an exhibit of their own to share with their friends and family members on the last day of camp!

Museum Day Camp has two session that will be held June 11–14 and June 18–21. Camp will run from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. each day and lunch and snacks will be provided. Spots are limited to foster a high-participation experience, so make sure you sign up ASAP.

For more information on BYU’s 2018 Museum Camp, visit the Camp website.

(Feature image courteous of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures.)

 

 
 

Envision: Using STEM to Investigate Ancient Cultures, at the MPC

Interact with Archeology at Museum of Peoples and Cultures New Exhibit

If you want to witness archeology in action you aren’t limited to watching Indiana Jones; you can be a part of it right on BYU’s campus at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. See for yourself the math, science, and technology used to reveal the past in the Museum’s new exhibit Envision: Innovative Exploration in Archaeology.

Opening on Monday September 11, 2017 with a reception from 6:30-8:30 pm, individuals will be able to interact with technologies like the solar-powered supply trailer used in excavations and thermal imaging cameras, as well as learn about modern research methods. Visitors can complete circuits using a solar panel and simulate separating contaminants from DNA fragments. Families and individuals will see how STEM plays a part in archaeological exploration and innovation.

“We anticipate exhibition visitors will come to envision archaeology in new ways as they learn about the innovative trends in this field” said Brianna Selph, MPC Guest Services Assistant. Museum staff hope that all visitors will, through their interaction with the exhibit, come away equipped with the knowledge and tools to make connections between archaeology, STEM fields, and their own lives.

The Museum of Peoples and Cultures’ Mission is to “inspir[e] students to life-long learning.” Learn, experience, and understand archeology on a new level at Envision: Innovative Explorations in Archaeology, open September 11, 2017. This exhibit will provide ample hands-on experience to individuals looking to make connections between themselves, science, and the ancient peoples and cultures we continue to learn more about every day.

The exhibit, which will run until February 2018,  is free to the public. For more information about the exhibition or reception, visit mpc.byu.edu.

Students: Five Ways to Stay Sharp This Summer

Summer may be for lazy days and having fun with your friends, but that doesn’t mean you should stop learning! Here are 5 ways to stay sharp and have fun this summer!

Find Your Club!

Even though clubs aren’t very active during the Spring and Summer, you can still sort through them at BYU’s clubs’ website and pick which one you want to join in Fall/Winter! Here are some quick links to more information about clubs within our college:

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Courtesy of BYU Refugee Empowerment Club’s Facebook page

Visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures!

Learn all about ancient and more modern civilizations at this museum. Current exhibits include Piecing Together Paquimé, which features the remnants of the city from A.D. 1200-1450, and Steps in Style, which features shoes from a plethora of cultures and time periods.

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Courtesy of the MPC Facebook page

Hit up the Library!

Here at BYU, we have one of the best libraries ever! It’s full of cool rooms and exhibits and awesome movies and books. So take time this summer to explore the HBLL and find some great books! Highlights of the HBLL include:

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Courtesy of the HBLL Facebook page

Brush up on your Writing Skills

Whether you’re taking classes this summer or not, you can always improve your writing. FHSS’ Writing Lab offers many tools both on-campus and online to help you with that. Take a few moments to brush up on these skills, so you don’t have to do it in the middle of trying to meet a million assignment deadlines:

  • Formatting a paper Turabian style
  • Structuring your paper
  • Writing a conclusion
  • Citing APA style

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Watch YouTube Videos!

Did you know that FHSS has two YouTube channels? Every other week, we post videos about the intricacies of daily life and how to live within them.

What are your summer plans?

Museum of Peoples and Cultures Ranked Among Top 50 College Museums

BYU is known around the world for it sports and top notch law and business school. But, did you know it’s also renowned for its museums? College Values Online recently ranked BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures on their list of the “50 Most Impressive College Museums 2017-2018.” 

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Courtesy of the MPC Facebook Page

BYU’s museum specializes in artifacts of the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic varieties,” said the online college ranking company, who selected those top 50 out of hundreds of college museums in the US based on the breadth of their permanent collections and whether or not they included recognizable artifacts that could successfully appeal to a variety of audiences . “Highlights include shell necklaces from Polynesia and pottery from the American Southwest, though hundreds of countries and cultures are represented here. The museum also offers dozens of programs and classes offered each month for museum visitors of all ages.”

Current exhibits at the MPC include Steps in Style, featuring shoes from various countries and eras, and Piecing Together Paquime, which takes visitors on an archaeological journey through an ancient Paquime city. The museum will also be hosting upcoming summer camps, as well as these activities:

  • Date nights
  • Merit Badge Blitz
  • Museum camps
  • FHS nights
  • Mommy Meet Up
  • Utah Lake Festival

The museum also lends out culture cases containing educational materials to classes in order to further anthropological learning. 

steps in style
Courtesy of the MPC website

 The Mission

 The mission of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is: “to serve the academic mission of BYU and care for the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic collections in the custody of the University. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is BYU’s Teaching Museum, inspiring students to life-long learning and service and mentoring them in collections-focused activities that reinforce BYU ideals of education as spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, and character building. These activities concurrently serve the scholarly community, the LDS community, and/or the general public and aspire to the highest standards of stewardship and public trust.”  The museum fulfills their mission in the following ways:

  • Gathering and maintaining artifacts
  • Providing an educational setting for BYU students
  • “Facilitating teaching and research on peoples and cultures by BYU faculty, staff, students, and by members of the scholarly community in peer institutions”
  • Utilizing research, exhibitions, and activities to formulate new knowledge
  • Teaching people about cultures and peoples

History

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Courtesy of the MPC website

 The museum was formed shortly after the Archaeology Department was instituted in 1946. It has been housed in numerous buildings over the years, including the Maesar Building, the Eyring Science Center, and the Academy Building. (Currently, the Provo library.) Aside from its inclusion in College Values Online’s list, the museum has the been the recipient of a plethora of awards and grants including a State Certificate Award for Excellence in All Areas of Museum Operations and the 2011 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Since 2000, the MPC has received over $250,000 in federal and state grants for various research projects. In the same time period, $1.5 million in object and cash donations have significantly increased the quality of the collections.

With its rich events and creative exhibitions, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is truly an educational and anthropological treasure that all BYU staff, alumni, and students can be proud of, and that the public can enjoy.

Have you been to the MPC?

BYU Museum Day Camp for Teenagers Offers Unique Perspective

For the first time ever, BYU will offer a summer day camp for teenagers who want to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of its museums. Youth ages 13 to 15 who are interested in museums, museum careers, art, paleontology, anthropology, or biology will enjoy this camp. During either of two four-day sessions the second or third full weeks of June 2017, they will have a number of opportunities to expand their skills in

  • Critical thinking
  • Design thinking
  • Writing and english
  • Science
  • Creativity and art

The camps will involve the Museums of Art, Paleontology, Peoples and Cultures, and the Bean Life Science Museum.

museum camp
Courtesy of MPC’s Facebook event page

Kari Ross Nelson, Curator of Education at BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures, says: “We’ve been cultivating the idea of a Museum Camp for a while, so we’re excited to see it happening.  We’re excited to have all the Museums on BYU Campus working together for great variety throughout the week.” Instead of screen time, participants will have immersive, hands-on time seeing live animal shows, creating their own exhibits, tie-dying their camp shirts, and replicating fossils. The camp costs $139 which covers lunch, snacks, classroom supplies, a T-shirt, field trips, and teaching.

Jessica Simpson, a graduate student studying Archaeology and one of the camp’s staff members, provides her perspective on this unique opportunity: “Campers will have fun seeing what no one else sees from the perspective of museum professionals.” Go to museum.ce.byu.edu for more information and registration.

What’s your favorite on-campus museum?

 

 

You Think You Have Old Shoes? You Should See New Old Shoe Exhibit

On October 17th 2016, BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures will open its shoe exhibition titled Steps in Style. The exhibition will display a collection of shoes from around the globe and shoes from various time periods. Additionally, the exhibition will include an interactive portion for young visitors. The museum is free general admission.

Steps in Style

“Shoes are something all cultures have in common. Having this point of connection helps us relate to each other,” says Jaquelyn Johnson, the doctorate student spearheaded the curation, design, and installation of this exhibition. Similarly, our choice of shoe style reflects our personalities and circumstances. The shoes in the exhibit reflect the personalities and needs of people across the world.

The highlights of the collection are bone skates, moccasins from various Native American nations, wooden clogs, intricately beaded slippers, and Caribou boots. A pair of Samoan sandals made of tapa cloth, woven coconut leaves, and coconut seeds. Of the mocassions, Johnson points out that they “show how much time and effort went into creating such a unique shoe. Today, we go to the store without putting nearly any time or thought into the purchase.”

Families, scout groups, students, and people of all ages are welcome to explore this unique exhibition, says Lacy Schmoekel, promotions manager at the museum.

BYU Student Uses Microscope to Find Origin of Ancient Looted Textiles

microscope-275984_1280In 2014, the Museum of peoples and Cultures at BYU acquired a collection of Pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles. Similar to many ancient textiles, these were originally obtained by looters rather than archaeologists. As a result, the textiles came to the museum like a solitary puzzle piece – out of context, with no instructions or explanation attached.

Taralea Foster, student of anthropology at BYU, put the textiles under a microscope to determine their cultural origins, as well as ways the textiles were likely used in the past.

To determine the origins of the textiles, one might expect an anthropologist to simply compare their designs and colors to similar textiles, and then make an educated guess. However, taking the analysis to a microscopic level made it possible to link the textiles to a more specific region. Under the microscope, the materials in the textiles were discovered to be a combination of cotton and camelid wool. Foster also determined that the spin of the thread fibers, the textiles’ thread count, and the weaving techniques used to make them were all representative of textiles from a specific Peruvian region.

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Coast of Huanchaco, Peru – a city in the region the textiles were made

Taralea concluded that each of the five textiles she analyzed were probably from the northern or central coastal regions of Peru. They were woven by people of the Chancay or Chimu cultures, likely during the Late Intermediate Period (1000-1500 AD), and were likely used in tapestries or as garments.

Comparing the technical aspects of her textiles to those from other collections, Taralea was able to reconstruct the previously unknown cultural contexts of the five looted textiles and place them in their proper cultural and temporal position. The recovered information gives the textiles a new significance to the museum and will be used in their future research and display. The museum, in general, boasts many student-curated exhibits,  programs that are open to the public, and resources available to educators:

“For a lot of the cultures we have [featured at the museum], there were no written records,” says Paul Stavast, director of the MPC. “These objects are what the people left behind. This is how we understand who they were.”

Understanding the past takes teams of scholars and students to piece together the puzzle and build a comprehensible reconstruction of the past. Professors and students like Taralea Foster contribute to the rich scholarship and education at BYU that blesses the lives and enriches the minds of students everywhere.

Foster’s research was presented in this winning poster at the 2015 Mary Lou Fulton Conference:

Taralea Forster Poster

What is your favorite exhibit at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures?