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SIUE’s University Museum Awarded $153K Museums for America Grant

Higher Education

The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville was awarded a two-year $153,459 grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as part of their Museums for America program.

With the funding from this award, the Museum will improve its collections stewardship by implementing the second stage of the Museum Collections Inventory Project, during which museum staff, graduate assistants and grant funded research assistants will inventory approximately 10,000 objects from the ethnographic collections from the continents of South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.

The project will include identifying and recording undocumented objects found in these collections, completing digital photographic documentation, improving basic storage stabilization, and gathering condition information for each object inventoried. It will also provide a foundation for increased intellectual control and preservation of the Museum’s ethnographic collections and expand the accessibility of the collections and associated data for both research and educational purposes.

With the goal of completing a full physical inventory by 2025, the Museum will increase staff capacity and collections expertise by hiring temporary full-time research assistants, which will accelerate and consolidate this portion of the inventory project.

“The value of the University Museum can be measured on multiple scales and differently by the many communities it serves,” said Erin Vigneau-Dimick, executive curator of the SIUE University Museum. “Its cultural resources are unmatched in the southwestern Illinois region. It is a virtual ‘hidden treasure’ of cultural capital that can be deployed to support the University’s values of creation, preservation and sharing of knowledge in conjunction with its mission of cultural inclusiveness and diversity.”

The collections include items of many sizes, materials and traditions ranging from archaeological artifacts to examples of 20th century material culture. Each has the potential to delineate the rich cultural traditions of people from throughout the ages and around the world for the campus faculty, staff and students and

“This project has direct benefits to the long and short-term care of the Museum’s collections, and the data collected will serve as an essential step in the Museum’s strategic plan goal of establishing intellectual control,” Vigneau-Dimick explained. “It will enable expanded engagement with objects of cultural and artistic significance via increased record and location accuracy. The creation of improved records and digital surrogates will reduce unnecessary handling and increase remote access for university stakeholders. Housing stabilization and condition survey data will serve UM collection care preservation goals and provide a framework for the design of future projects.”

Students, staff, faculty and researchers who investigate, interpret, curate, display and care for the objects in the collections will benefit directly from the award. Administrators from SIUE’s Provost’s office and the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences have participated in the planning and assessment of the Museum’s strategic plans and support these goals.

Graduate assistants from multiple departments across campus including museum studies, art and design, anthropology, historical studies, integrated studies and cultural heritage and resource management, as well as grant-funded early-career museum research assistants will also benefit by participating in hands-on experiential learning during the inventory project, preparing them for future careers in museums, archives and cultural institutions.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high-quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose to shape a changing world. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 13,000.