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Collections Public Open House Recap (Spring 2024)

Spring 2024

Report by Avnish Kulkarni (’24)

This spring (2024), the Environmental Archaeology Lab worked together with the Archaeology & Anthropology Collections, Wesleyan Natural History Collections, and Archaeology Program to present our third annual public open house! Students and professors designed interactive stations throughout Exley science center, inviting visitors to learn more about our collections on campus and the work that students do with them.

This year, we were delighted to have the Middlesex County Historical Society present a linked panel before the open house about the Wangunk in History, Archaeology, and Art. The Indigenous people in this area, the Wangunk, have been the caretakers of the land around Middletown for over ten thousand years. This event allowed visitors to learn more about the Wangunk people and also about an exciting, public art project in Middletown which is drawing on Wesleyan’s Archaeology Collections to share Wangunk history. In another pre-open house event, local science educator Emmy Brockman gave a children’s performance about animal bones and fossils.

In the Exley lobby visitors explored the paleoanthropology collections and saw a flint knapping demonstration done by EAL member Beth Cooper. On the third floor of Exley, visitors learned about environmental archaeology, observing animal bones and paleobotanical samples, in addition to learning about the historic collections on campus. On the fourth floor, student-led tours of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History showcased the fossil and mineral collections. There were also stations on the fourth floor dedicated to local archaeology, including 3D scanning of Native American stone tools by the Environmental Archaeology Lab, and stations hosted by the Institute for American Indian Studies and the Friends of the Office of State Archaeology.

We welcomed over 200 visitors from the Middletown community, and were excited to have tremendous public support and interest.