From the Desk of the IUMAA Director – Spring 2020

Collage of Mathers Museum and Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology signs
Collage of Mathers Museum and Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology signs.

With the Spring 2020 semester now officially closed, I wanted to update you on our efforts on a number of fronts. But first, I would like to wish all of our student volunteers and employees a healthy summer, and I want to say thank you to our graduating students many of whom have been an important part of our family for years. Last fall we began work on the monumental task of bringing together the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures into one new institution, the Indiana University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (IUMAA), and redesigning our building, exhibits, and the way we work. In many ways, the process has been like combining two families to create something bigger, stronger, and more diverse. We now face many of the tasks that go along with combining households: we are building a new home, and moving out of familiar spaces, all of this while working in a global pandemic!

Our building renovation is addressing outdated and inefficient HVAC and other infrastructure, and because these issues have far-reaching implications for the safety of our collections and the people who care for it, our renovation is still on track in spite of COVID-19. The pandemic situation has meant that we’ve been conducting our planning meetings and collections work online via Zoom. Not being together has been difficult, but we are committed to doing whatever we can to slow the spread of this disease. Soon enough we’ll all be back in the building working hard to continue preparing for the move and renovation.

We’re excited about the plans for the building and will share those broadly once they are finalized—for now we can say that you’ll notice improvements to our entrances and programs spaces. Major changes will encourage visitors to explore the behind the scenes work of the museum more easily. People will be able to see what kinds of work takes place in our laboratories, storage, and analytical spaces, while improvements to collections accessibility will facilitate student, collaborator, and faculty research. New technologies and techniques are also planned for exhibit halls that will create even more meaningful learning experiences.

As you might imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered our timeline is somewhat uncertain and a little fuzzy, but we are still hopeful that in early 2022, we’ll be able to welcome you into our new museum and laboratory. Until then, we hope we’ll see you around campus and online. During the time we are under renovation we’ll still be conducting programs, hosting research, and participating in the life of the campus. I hope you’ll follow along with all or our efforts and activities via social media and the IUMAA website. Please stay safe and healthy.

Warm regards,
Ed Herrmann, IUMAA Director

From the Desk of the IUMAA Director

Collage of Mathers Museum and Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology signs.
Image of Mathers Museum (left) and Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology (right) signs.

Thank you for being a part of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology community.

I am thrilled to begin my tenure as Executive Director of the Indiana University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology with a note about our plans for this new museum. As you may have heard, the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology (GBL) is merging with the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (MMWC) to form the Indiana University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (IUMAA) on the Bloomington campus. Much of my archaeological training occurred during my five years at the GBL, where I spent most of my time working with collections and conducting fieldwork. I am excited to return to work with those as well as the Mathers collections. Perhaps more importantly, I am happy to work with Director April Sievert and the passionate and dedicated museum staff and faculty professionals—who average more than 20 years of experience per person in areas such as museum administration, outreach and education, curation, exhibit planning and design, material culture analysis, and ethnographic and anthropological research.

As a university museum and laboratory at a research one institution, the IUMAA will focus on the creation, dissemination, and curation of cultural knowledge. Continuing in the tradition of the MMWC and the GBL, the museum will foster education at all levels through collections-based teaching, exhibits, and research focused on our extensive and rich ethnographic and archaeological collections from around the world – including from the unique Angel Mounds Site, our largest collection. We intend our collaborative efforts to include work with many IU departments, professors, students, teachers, K-12 students, and the general public. Traditional Arts Indiana will help us engage with people enmeshed in the creative processes currently being documented in Indiana today.
The IUMAA will also work with indigenous communities and engage with tradition bearers to bring their perspectives to Indiana audiences. We hope to collaborate with Native American tribes that were once present in Indiana to help bring their viewpoints to our audiences. My own research and teaching has involved collaborations with indigenous communities including the Maasai and Chagga tribes in Tanzania, Africa as well as projects with the Crow, Salish, and Kootenai in Wyoming and Montana, and I have always found these collaborations to be some of the most rewarding and important aspects of my work.

The two centers, which are currently housed in separate but adjoining buildings, are slated for necessary renovations starting next summer. Indiana University President Michael McRobbie has secured over $10 million for renovations, and additional funds from generous donors have helped support expanded and updated exhibits. Renovations will be extensive, incorporating replacement and modernization of mechanical and other infrastructure through the installation of new HVAC systems, electrical upgrades, and other improvements that will make our facility better for visitors, students, researchers, and employees. The GBL and MMWC will close in May 2020, renovations will be completed in the fall of 2021, and the new museum will open in the spring of 2022. We look forward to new teaching spaces, lab spaces, artifact study areas, compact shelving in curation areas, expanded exhibit space, and extensive technological additions that will facilitate our teaching and learning missions.

I am grateful to those who have warmly supported my arrival and the staff, faculty, and students who have welcomed me.

Ed Herrmann, IUMAA Director