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Experiential Learning Activities

Activity components are opportunities for students to engage more deeply with the topic of the tour.  They are designed to encourage students’ analytic thinking as well as exploring the roles of archaeologists and museums in our understanding of past cultures.

Activities are typically planned in conjunction with a gallery tour, but can be scheduled without it as well.

Current options include:

Interrogating the Object

Students are given a series of questions in a worksheet designed to guide them through the process of analyzing the nature and function of an artifact on display at the museum. They are then asked to share their observations and to draw conclusions about the culture which created the artifact. Questions are tailored to the specific topics and goals of the course and are developed in collaboration with the professor prior to the visit.

Burial Boxes

In this activity we ask the students to think like an archaeologist. We have assembled boxes of reproduction artifacts, each representing a different burial assemblage. Each box also contains a cursory description of the burial when it was excavated. Students are asked to identify the artifacts from each box and then to develop a hypothesis about the gender, occupation, age, and health status of the individual buried with the artifacts. They are then asked to share their observations and conclusions with the group. This is intended to demonstrate the thought process of an archaeologist but also to encourage critical thinking about information sources and our own cultural biases.  

Provenance, Provenience, and Problems in Museum Collecting

Students are given the opportunity to examine up close a collection of real artifacts which are NOT part of the Kelsey Museum Collections. They are then lead through a discussion of provenance versus provenience and why these matter, of museum collecting standards and best practices, and on some of the ethical issues museums face.    

All activities can be tailored to fit the needs and goals of a specific course. 

Sketching in the Galleries

We can also arrange for art students to sketch in the galleries. Please contact us to reserve time for your course to sketch. We will provide stools to use in the galleries and a classroom space for class discussion before and after students have worked in the galleries. Please see our sketching guidelines.

Object Handling

We can arrange for your students to explore and examine artifacts from our collections as part of their visit to the Kelsey. Please contact the Education Department to make arrangements. We will work with you to select objects that fit your course topic and learning goals. A minimum of 6 weeks advanced notice is needed. Please also view our Object Handling Guidelines in preparation for your visit.