Do museums interest you? How about one that is within a few steps of your class this morning, that has real human skeletons and animal skulls?
This past week, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology held an open house for the Museum of Anthropology at Rowan University, also known as MARU. The museum is located on campus in Robinson Hall Room 205.
MARU is a project by the department developed to increase student awareness and understanding of anthropology and human history. As stated in the summary on MARU’s website: “The mission of the Museum is to promote discovery, learning, and an appreciation of human origins and cultures. The museum will be concerned with advancing the understanding of cultural diversity in a diachronic framework.”
Department Professor Maria Rosado envisioned MARU in 2010; the museum officially opened two years later. MARU is co-curated by Rosado and Professor Jane Hill.
This past weekend’s open house saw 50 visitors, according to Hill. The staff is hoping to do more events in the future and expand.
“Ideally in the future we would like to secure a dedicated space for the museum outside of the classroom it now inhabits,” Hill explained. “So that [way] we may expand our hours to be open to the public, and that more of our students could gain experience in designing exhibits and educating the public.
“This would also give us the space and the security to have exhibits loaned to us so that Rowan students and the community can see collections from other museums as well as our own.”
The museum features a number of various artifacts that focus on evolution and human history. It has skulls and bones of various contemporary animals, as well as those of creatures that existed millions of years ago. The museum also has various Paleolithic and Archaic era tools on display.
“I want people to understand it’s not just old stuff, we can still look back at these cultures and look back at these artifacts in order to take a look at ourselves,” said junior psychology major Miles Cordero, who works as an assistant intern at the museum. “We are still growing as a people; it could give a pretext on what we are for the future.”
The museum has several students working to help the staff manage and provide information to visitors. It is also because of past students that the museum has gotten to where it is today.
“Those students did an incredible amount of work cataloging, photographing objects, and designing displays to create a space for the museum,” Hill said. “The purpose was always that Rowan students and younger visitors from the surrounding school districts could come visit to learn.”
Like the staff, the students have shared the same passion for working to improve the museum. The goal is that one day it will grow into a much bigger entity alongside the ever-expanding Rowan University.
Students can visit the museum every Friday this semester from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., or by prior arrangements with Rosado.
MARU will also be hosting a Halloween event on Friday, Oct. 28 where two guest speakers will present their research in bioarchaeology, followed by a showing of the 1932 film “The Mummy.”
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