Students Plan and Install New Cobb Museum Displays

Students Plan and Install New Cobb Museum Displays

Jane Ellen Handling Objects

The Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology in the Cobb Institute of Archaeology at Mississippi State University is freshening up for spring. New displays of artifacts and rearranging of others are currently being organized by undergraduate students enrolled in the Introduction to the Business of Museums course. The purpose of this new course taught by Department of Art Instructor Lori Neuenfeldt is to allow students to step into the world of museum professionals and gain first-hand experience creating museum programs, displays, and planning an exhibition.

With over 5,000 objects in the Cobb Museum’s collections, the students were challenged to rearrange the layout of the museum and to generate a new exhibit that would excite and educate visitors, all while supporting the museum’s mission. Students worked with Cobb Institute staff Director Dr. Jimmy Hardin, Outreach Coordinator Derek Anderson, and Business Coordinator Kathy Elliott. Interior Design senior Laney Hammond worked on the new floor plan with Art student Zay Nicks. Exhibiton designer Laney Hammond notes, “ As the exhibition designer for the Cobb Museum, it was important to ensure that this space was accessible. Before the renovation, the space felt very small and closed off. After speaking with the team, we decided that it was crucial to determine the way the guests were walking through the museum, the story it told and making sure everyone has the opportunity to see the artifacts.”

Along with the new layout, students are planning an exhibit scheduled to open May 3rd. Art senior Juliet Buckholdt is one of the curators of the new exhibit titled “Tiny Itty-Bitty Little Guys: The Cobb’s Micro Museum.” According to the exhibition overview, “Within the collection of the Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology are numerous tiny artifacts. These small objects, measuring less than 4 inches in scale, represent humankind’s ability to craft delicate details from stone, bone, metals, and clay. The goal of the ‘micro museum’ display is to call attention to the tiny, yet significant artifacts held in the Cobb Museum’s collection. These miniature pieces ask the museum visitor to look closer and consider the role of the ittybitty in the great, big story of human history.” Art student Thomas Vo is responsible for promoting the new exhibit. Vo states, “This exhibition demonstrates how valuable this new course is for students interested in museum professions.”

To compliment the exhibit, students are also installing an educational display and a retail space that connect to the museum’s content, which are objects from geographical locations in the the Ancient Near East and the Southeastern United States. Pieces in the collections have been recovered from Cobb Institute-sponsored excavations as well as from private collections donated to the museum. The collections are viewed by about 2,500 visitors per year, and have been used in a variety of research projects by students, staff, and faculty.

The Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology is located in the basement of the Cobb Institute of Archaeology. The new exhibition will be open to the public starting May 3rd with a reception of the exhibition at 5-7pm. During the spring and fall semesters, individual walk-in visitors can visit during normal business hours. During the summer months, and for tours and groups of 10 or more, please contact the MSU Welcome Center at (662) 325-5203 in order to set up an appointment