Monday, April 21, 2014

Carissa K. at the Evansville African American Museum

I have been volunteering at the Evansville African American Museum since 2012. I first found out about it through the museum studies class offered here. I have loved it there. My main role was helping to accession new pieces in the collection. I have handled a WWII military jacket, Liberian statuettes, a slave quilt, and many other wonderful artifacts. I was also able to help the curator, Ms. Brittney Westbrook, set up a few exhibits. Ms. Westbrook is amazing. She will take the time to show you multiple ways a collection can be managed. I have learned how to store and clean artifacts as well as how to label them with accession numbers and how to handle many different pieces. She has taken so much of her time to educate me one on one and made me feel like I have the skills and abilities I need to succeed. This museum is unique because it focuses on Evansville history within the context of the rest of the nation.

I have helped out with office work as well when Ms. Westbrook couldn’t be there and was able to meet the rest of the staff who are upbeat and as nice as can be. It really helps you understand what goes in to running a museum on a small scale, everyone has so many different things they do. I have even worked on mailings with Ms. Westbrook!

The museum is always looking for new volunteers and interns. You don’t have to be interested in collections to go there. They are looking for a wide range of interests and a great attitude. It’s a great place to have on your resume and Ms. Westbrook is definitely willing to write a reference for you, I know I have her as one of mine. It’s close to campus and even if you can only spare an hour a week its worth it. If you volunteer or intern there be ready to be hands on with artifacts and possibly meet some of Evansville’s own historical characters.

Working with Ms. Westbrook and the rest of the staff has been amazing. I am glad I got to be part of the museum for the time that I was. I highly encourage anyone looking for experience, especially in collections, to go their way.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Archaeology department's 3rd annual trip!

The archaeology department went on their third annual trip last Saturday, April 12th. 13 students, both majors and non-majors attended and had a great time. The first stop was at The Monastery of the Sisters of Saint Benedict. One of the sisters took us on a tour not only of the Monastery seen in daily operations, but also the infrastructure that holds it up. The architecture was amazing as was our tour guide, who seemed to know absolutely everything, not just about the Monastery, but  
about the history of Ferdinand. After the Monastery we stopped at the Wollenmann house, also in Ferdinand. It was absolutely beautiful. The house is modeled after a Swedish chalet and one can definitely tell by looking at it. I think everyone approved when we found out that the people who saved it from being torn down are renovating it and planning to turn it into a visitor’s center so that everyone can enjoy it for generations to come. I have to admit we were also pretty excited to hear they wanted to set up a little cafĂ© inside, it is definitely going to be a great place to visit when it is up and running.

After Ferdinand we took a scenic drive to Saint Meinard Archabbey. We were able to enjoy some lunch and stroll the grounds until it was our tour time. I ventured off and explored the library there. I highly recommend it as there are three floors, a small art gallery, and some amazing manuscripts on display from England. One of the monks gave us a tour and he was definitely a lively character. He made everything fun and exciting. One of our first stops was the church. This was definitely exciting as it had beautiful stained glass windows featuring Bible stories and stories from history, which our guide was kind enough to tell us. Another great place in the Archabbey was where the monks gathered to pray. It was filled with paintings on the walls and ceiling and beautiful decorations on the windows. We of course took time to stop at the gift shop, where a bunch of us learned, via Dr. Ebeling, that archaeologists have a patron saint! Saint Helen. Many of us bought the card that told her story. It was also very interesting to see the coffins the gift shop sells. As the guide said, many people are just dying to buy one from them. 

After finishing up at the gift shop we tried stopping at a little roadside dinner to see some buffalo, but they had changed management. However, we did still go out back. There were two little houses, one claiming that Lincoln had slept there. They were a little…run down. A few of us braved the little step ladder up to the second floor to take a quick look around, but there wasn’t much to see.

Our last stop was the Lincoln Boyhood Home. We went to the farm section where we were able to see some sheep, historic chickens, as in the type of chickens Lincoln would have raised, and replicas of the workshop and house Lincoln would have lived in. We meet with one of the employees who gave us our own private session. We learned how Lincoln’s mother died, what the cure for milk sickness is, how to spin wool into yarn, that flax looks like hair, that all of us girls should know how to spin and sew by now, and many more useful things. Unfortunately, it got too late in the day for us to visit the actual visitor center, but its not that far away and it was a great time regardless.

Of course one of the toppers of the day was Ms. Alexandra L’s. brownies. We had some at Saint Meinrad and when we returned to school, finishing the entire tin! It was an amazing day and next year’s trip is going to have to work hard to beat it. 

I would like to give a special thank you from all of us to Dr. Ebeling and Ms. Alexandra L. for organizing the trip and for getting us such great tours!

Our first view of the monastery at Ferdinand

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tim S. in Italy

As an Art History and Archaeology double major it was clear that I would study abroad from the moment I picked my majors.  After all, one of the main reasons I picked archaeology was to travel.  Evansville has a fantastic program for study abroad at Harlaxton in England, but it just didn't seem right for me.  With my interests in Renaissance art and Roman archaeology, Italy and the program with AIFS seemed like the perfect match, and I have not been disappointed.  Studying abroad in Rome has been the best experience of my life, and I am not exaggerating.  The classes I took were Italian, History of the Italian Mafia, Drawing, Art and Culture in Rome, and Renaissance and Baroque Art.  As part of the program, I spent two weeks in Florence taking an intensive Italian class.  When I got to Rome I continued taking Italian so I could learn the language and be able to order and hold small conversations in Italian.  The History of the Italian Mafia class has been very cool.  It was interesting learning about the origins and history of the mafia as well as the Italian state and government.  It has also been great learning how to draw in Rome.  Almost every class is spent at a piazza or a famous monument like the Pantheon.  My favorite classes have been my two art history classes, Art and Culture in Rome, and Renaissance and Baroque Art.  Just like drawing, I have spent very little time in a classroom; instead we went to places like the Vatican museum or the Borghese Gallery and studied the works of art of the great painters in person.  There is nothing quite as fantastic to an Art History and Archaeology major than seeing Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling or holding class in the Coliseum.  Classes were held four days a week so I had three day weekends to go exploring around Rome or visiting a different city in a different country.  I visited many cites in Italy like Venice, Florence, Palermo, and many others, as well as Paris France, Interlaken Switzerland, and Barcelona Spain.  Most of the Italian visits were scheduled as part of the AIFS program. This adventure has been absolutely amazing, and I highly recommend when it comes to study abroad to follow your interests whether they lead you to Harlaxton England or Rome Italy.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stephanie M. Ellingson Internship Work

The University of Evansville received a generous donation from the family of Dr. Mary Ellingson including several original letters and a photo album detailing her experience on a pivotal archaeological dig in Olynthus, Greece in 1931. This stayed on a shelf for many years until Dr. Kaiser rediscovered it. He became fascinated with the material and studied it in order to write a book.

My job has been to preserve the material that the University has both electronically and in the library. I created a system to electronically store all of the transcripts of the letters, paperwork, and articles. I also scanned all the handwritten letters so that if anyone wanted to check my transcription they could. The original and photocopied documents were then each placed in an individual acid free folder for their protection and stored in a document box. There are two document boxes one for photocopies and another for originals. Each folder was labeled with three things. First, type of document: letter, article, or paperwork. Second, its date or the estimated date if one could be assigned to it. Lastly, it was labeled with a detail or title of the specific document.

My next task was to conserve the album. First the Browning Miller intern and I photographed each page to preserve the original context of the photos. Next we scanned each individual photo. All of these photos were then organized electronically in order for them to be accessed easily. The most crucial aspect of this project was putting the album back together. It was very important to obtain special materials to protect the original photos and paper. The end result was a fully protected album that will be around for future generations to study and enjoy.  

Make sure you check out the Ellingson display, which will be set up in the university library cases from April 7th to April 28th. SAHA will be receiving a special presentation on the Ellingson artifacts on April 14th at 8pm. Go to Hyde 8 and we will begin from there!

Amy R. Exploring the Forum Baths of Pompeii

Two years ago in Archaeology 320, Dr. Kaiser's Pompeii class, I became very interested in the city and the breadth of Pompeian Studies, especially in the public bathing facilities, about which I wrote my term paper. In doing research, there seemed to be a reasonable amount of study on the other complexes but a lack of information about the Forum Baths. They were frequently mentioned, but not in detail and their potential significance was overlooked. Following my time studying abroad at Harlaxton College, I got to visit the ruins before returning home. This was a bucket list item for me and I had fun finding the Cave Canem mosaic at the House of the Tragic Poet, marveling at the frescoes, and having a snack in Lucius Caecilius Iucundus' garden. Then, I visited the baths in person. 
As the first baths discovered by early excavators, the Forum Baths have been written off as typical Republican baths. However, I came away questioning this interpretation. Many of the features suggest private architecture and emphasized the social aspect of bath culture over the health benefits. Returning to the States, I did some additional research on the Forum baths themselves and their circumstances. ​This research suggests to me that the Forum Baths of Pompeii were originally built by an entrepreneur (possibly a veteran following the Social War) and were a private establishment. This study is the basis of my Honor's thesis and I will be presenting it both at UE alongside the other Honors theses and at UNC-Chapel Hill, as part of the Eta Sigma Phi Classics Conference. I would like to have a better chronology nailed down, but I haven't found an appropriately detailed architecture report, so I guess I'll just have to go back!
Make sure you go see Amy's presentation on Monday, April 7, 2014 in Koch 100. Her presentation will start around 3:45pm, so make sure you get there in time for a good seat!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Miranda A. Student Art Exhibition Awards

Archaeology and Art major Miranda Amey has won three awards in the 52nd annual Student Art Exhibition at the University of Evansville. Three of her works, including Teagan, are on exhibit in the Melvin Peterson Gallery on the UE campus until April 7. Miranda won the following awards this year:
3rd Place Award of Excellence
2014 Gumberts' Award Winner 
Judges' Choice Purchase Award
Congratulations, Miranda!