The ACU Museum reopened and soft-launched seven exhibitions for the ACU community April 20 in conjunction with the anniversary of the class of 1973.
The museum was put together in part by students in the new public history track within the Department of History and Global Studies.
“In 2019, the Department of History and Global Studies launched a new public history track within the history major which enables our students to specialize in public history which includes work in the museum field,” said Dr. Amanda Biles, assistant professor of history and director of public history in the Department of History and Global Studies. “The department knew that we needed to address the conditions in the museum otherwise the collections in the museum would deteriorate.”
The ACU Museum was started by the Women for ACU. In the 1970s, WACU started collecting, building their collection plan and conceptualizing what they wanted the museum to do and the stories it would tell around campus.
The ACU Museum officially opened in the 1980s and was curated by The WACU committee and funded by the WACU organization. The WACU also hired student interns from the history department including a named internship, the Mary Manly internship.
In recent years, The WACU have been unable to keep the ACU Museum open and curated.
“Last year, we spoke to them about a process of transition where the museum would come under the leadership of myself and the department of history and global studies, James Wiser, dean of the library, and Craig Fisher, associate vice president for advancement and alumni,” Biles said.
Biles, Wiser and Fisher worked out a partnership plan to reopen the museum and have it led by student curators who are developing experience to work in the museum field.
“This museum had not been open very much in the past couple of years especially because of COVID-19,” Biles said. “In that time period, there was a lot of damage that occurred. There were some insect infestations and some rodent infestations, that was one of the first problems we had to tackle.”
The next step for the museum was to re-document all of the collections because the collections will now come under the ownership of ACU Special Collections and Archives.
“Before they could take those objects on officially, we had to verify that they were all there,” Biles said.
“This spring I have been working with our interns to enter those into Past Perfect collections management software which is the museum standard for history museums.”
Three interns, Kelci Campbell, senior liberal studies major from Abilene, Maddie Thompson, sophomore history major from Keller and Alessandra Rosales, junior global studies major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, helped Biles in curating the museum.
“One of the really cool things with me going through the different artifacts that we had, I found different little things that have ended up relating to my family,” Campbell said. “My great-grandfather was a professor here and I found a faculty wives book from the 60s that had my great-grandmother in it.”
The current exhibits featured in the soft launch are:
- Cold War exhibit
- Social Clubs exhibit
- Sing Song exhibit
- Cheerleading exhibit
- ACU Sports exhibit
- Music exhibit
- Science department exhibit
“Dr. Biles with the public history program will let her students work in the museum like a lab and have a space to hands-on curate exhibits,” Campbell said.
Campbell helped with the cold war, Sing Song, cheerleading and science exhibit while Thompson worked on the sports, cold war, music and science exhibit. Rosales worked on the music and science exhibit.
“It was really cool to have a hand in curating a lot of what people came in and saw,” Thompson said. “It just made me realize how important these four years are for so many people, I think it’s really important to preserve the memories that are created here at ACU.”
The ACU Museum will officially open full-time starting in the fall semester with a grand opening for Homecoming. Student employees will allow full access and guided tours Monday through Friday.
The ACU Museum is an actively collecting museum and Biles encourages people to email email@example.com to inquire about donations to the musuem
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