One of our core values is responsible research, which includes collaboration with our partners here at the University of Michigan and beyond, particularly in communities where we conduct our research.
Below you can explore some of the partners our researchers have worked with and the collaborative projects in which they have participated.
ARTDES 339 Science Illustration
Museum collections are often good resources for classes to encounter new and interesting objects. On January 27, Patricia Beals, Lecturer in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, brought her ARTDES 339 Scientific Illustration class to the Research Museums Center so that her students could practice technical drawing, using some of UMMAA’s archaeological and ethnographic objects.
While a picture may tell a thousand words, there are instances where the artist may want to focus on a specific aspect of an object or artifact, and a drawing can help to illustrate certain elements above the noise of a photograph. This is especially true for archaeological artifacts. For stone tools, archaeologists are often interested in the manufacture and reuse processes that are encoded in the facets of the stone. These can be tricky to light appropriately for a photograph, and so a good artist can illustrate and focus on the forms that help make this interpretation. Ceramic potsherds are frequently made from dull brown materials, where portions of the surface may be missing, and can also be difficult to properly light for photography. An artist can focus on the designs of the potter, rather than the centuries of wear that can often obscure the original details.
UMMAA at UMMA
Four artifacts from University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology’s (UMMAA) collections are now on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), as part of the exhibition, “We Write to You About Africa,” open now, in-person and on the Museum’s website. The exhibition doubles the space UMMA dedicates to African art and features a wide range of works from multiple collections across campus.
UMMAA’s contributions to the exhibit include a wax sculpture and two brass sculptures by Ghanaian artist Yaw Amankwa, as well as a brass leopard made by Ohene Danso in the workshop of Joseph Agyeman. The pieces were commissioned by Dr. Raymond Silverman in May 2006, while conducting research for the UM Exhibit Museum (now the Museum of Natural History) exhibition, “Casting Tradition: Contemporary Brassworking in Ghana.” The exhibition was the culmination of a two-year partnership between Exhibit Museum and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Museum, sponsored by the American Association of Museums. After the exhibition closed, these and other artifacts acquired for “Casting Tradition” became part of UMMAA’s permanent collection.
What is particularly interesting about the two sculptures depicting a man riding a bicycle is that they together demonstrate the process known as lost wax casting, which has been used by artists in Africa for centuries. The technique involves creating a wax model that is then covered with clay to create a mold. The mold is heated in a furnace to a high temperature that vaporizes the wax (hence “lost”) leaving a void within the mold, which then is filled with molten brass. After it cools, the mold is broken open (it can only be used once) to reveal a metal facsimile of the original wax sculpture. As an art historian interested in documenting the process of making art, Silverman purchased both pieces from Amankwa, rather than just the finished brass product.
UMMAA’s contribution to “We Write to You About Africa” was facilitated by UMMAA Curator, Brian Stewart, and Collections Manager, Andrea Blaser, who worked closely with Interim Chief Curator and Helmut and Candis Stern Curator for African Art, Laura De Becker, Assistant Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Ozi Uduma, and UMMA Chief Registrar of Collections and Exhibitions, Roberta Gilboe.
You can learn more about the exhibit and check it out online by going to UMMA’s website, which we have linked in our bio!
Applying to Graduate School Workshop
Date: October 27th, 2021
UMMAA Director and curator, Michael Galaty participated and co-organized a workshop on applying to graduate school which was held via Zoom on October 27th, 2021. The workshop was a collaboration between professors and graduate students from Colombia, Stanford, Brown, UCLA and the University of Michigan and sponsored by the Wenner Gren Foundation. Panelists included graduate students Madison Aubey (Anthropology, UCLA), Haoran Shi (Anthropology, Stanford), Jenny Ni (Anthropology, Columbia), and professors Zoë Crossland (Columbia), Andrew Bauer (Stanford), Peter van Dommelen (Brown) and Michael Galaty (Michigan).
The recording from the workshop can be viewed here.
ReConnect/ReCollect: Reparative Connections to Philippine Collections at the University of Michigan
UMMAA is collaborating with UM faculty and staff to examine some of the largest Philippine archival, cultural and natural history collections in North America. The project is directed by Deirdre de la Cruz, associate professor in Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of History and director of the Anthropology and History Program, and Ricky Punzalan, associate professor in the School of Information. Collaborators include Jim Moss, collection manager at UMMAA; Kerstin Barndt, associate professor of German Languages and Literature and director of the Museum Studies Program; Nancy Bartlett, associate director of the Bentley Historical Library; and Martha O’Hara Conway, director of the University of Michigan Library Special Collections Research Center.
The aim of the project is to create models for a responsive and ethical stewardship of Philippine materials at UM and other institutions by exploring questions of colonial complicity in the creation of these collections. UMMMA graduate student Nicholas Trudeau is serving as one of the GSRA’s for the project this semester.
Centering the Northern Realms: Integrating Histories and Archaeologies of the Mongol Empire (1200 to 1500 CE)
UMMAA curator Alicia Ventresca Miller is collaborating with Christian de Pee (Department of History), Miranda Brown (Department of Asian Languages and Cultures), Pär Cassel (Department of History), Bryan K. Miller (History of Art), and Sangseraima Ujeed (Department of Asian Languages and Cultures), in an interdisciplinary project to investigate the northern reaches of the Mongol empire.
The goal of the project is to gain a better understanding of the understudied Khövsgöl region of the Mongol Empire, specifically in regards to its influence on networks of exchange, control of resources and engagement with other regions. The collaborators will explore these areas of interest by looking at evidence from both textual and archaeological materials.
Cizhou vessel, Yuan dynasty, 1271-1368 CE (photo credit P. Bittner).
Knowledge Sharing: Students Learning from an Ethnobotanist and Anishinaabe Artists
Knowledge Sharing is one of two new exhibits featuring UMMAA collections on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (UMMNH).
This exhibition is a collaboration between UMMAA, UMMNH, and Dr. Lisa C. Young's Winter 2020 Museum Anthropology (Antharch 497) students, who researched the objects collected by former UMMAA curator Volney Jones from Ketegaunseebee/Garden River First Nation. Dr. Young is a faculty member in the University of Michigan Department of Anthropology and a Museum affiliate in the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology.
The goal of the exhibit was for students to share their research on the history of the objects that Volney Jones collected and what they had learned from present-day Anishinaabe community members. During the semester, the class met with Josh and Sarah Homminga, award-winning basketmakers and teachers, who taught them about the importance of Anishinaabe living traditions. Students worked together in teams to select objects for the exhibit, write labels for these objects, and develop content for a text panel.
Through a LSA Technology Services Digital Project Partnership, Dr. Young developed a companion website: Anishinaabe Plants: Learning from Museum Collections at the University of Michigan. This website allows visitors to the physical exhibit to digitally access additional information about the UMMAA collection with QR codes.
The exhibit can be found in the atrium, behind the mastodons, and will be on display until the summer of 2022.
Links for more information:
Wiidanokiindiwag (They Work with Each Other)
Date: September 2021
This exhibition is a reimplementation of an exhibition that was previously on display at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways in 2019. It was co-curated by William Johnson, curator and interim director of the Ziibiwing Center, and Carla Sinopoli, emeritus UMMAA curator and director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.
The exhibition’s title, Wiidanokiindiwag (They Work With Each Other), has two meanings: the first refers to the Anishinaabek basketmakers, who worked with each other and with native materials, including black ash, sweetgrass, elm and birch bark, and porcupine quills. The second meaning refers to the collaboration of the people of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways and the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, who worked together to bring about this exhibition. The collaboration between the groups began many years ago, with efforts to implement the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Since then, hundreds of Anishinaabek ancestors and their burial belongings have been returned to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and many other Great Lakes tribes.
Complementing this exhibition is an online catalog produced by the students of Dr. Young’s Winter 2019 Museum Anthropology course (Antharch 497), titled Bkejwanong/Walpole Island, Ontario Collections at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. Dr. Young contributed to both Wiidanokiindiwag exhibits.
Links for more information:
CAW and Brown Bag Lecture: Roundtable: The Problems and Prospects of Community-Based Archaeology
Date: November 20th, 2020
This roundtable discussion was organized by the Collaborative Archaeology Workgroup (CAW) and the UMMAA Brown Bag committee. CAW is a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workgroup (RIW) created by IPCAA and UMMAA graduate students to create a bridge of knowledge and resource sharing between students in both departments.
The goal of the roundtable was to explore best practices related to community involvement in archaeology and examine how community based practices have changed, and continue to change, the fundamental nature of archaeological methodologies, pedagogy, and publication. To do so, the organizing committee invited archaeologists whose research spans the globe from Detroit to Northern Sudan.
The roundtable was moderated by IPCAA doctoral candidate Nadhira Hill. Panelists included Dr. Krysta Ryzewski (Wayne State), Dr. Anna Antoniou (UMMAA alum), Dr. Geoff Emberling (Kelsey Museum) and Dr. Lisa Young (UM Anthropology).
The recording of the lecture can be viewed on our Youtube Channel, linked here.