Museums of Mizzou

Sept. 18, 2019

At a recent meeting with colleagues it dawned on me that mid-western humility is a real thing. At a time when national museums like the Newseum in Washington D.C. are shutting down, and despite a string of budget cuts, our university has maintained and grown Mizzou’s ‘museum’ assets. Maybe you do, but perhaps you do not know, that we are fortunate to have unique museum assets at Mizzou.

Consider for instance, the museum for insects – the Enns Museum serves as a repository for insect specimens that resulted from the work of faculty, staff, and students in Columbia and beyond. Projects range from studies of aquatic insects to studies of life of lentic fauna in the ponds near the Andaman Sea, after the Tsunami. Not only are the specimens rare, the people who work to make this happen live all over the world.

In quite a different area of interest, The Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection (MHCTC) collects clothing and textiles of historic and artistic value – they have over 7,000 artifacts that range in date from the 19th to the 21st century. An additional 4,000 archival resources including books, magazines, illustrations, and photographs that take us back to a different era, are also maintained here.

The Museum of Art and Archaeology, which is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), has been designated by American Art Awards as one of the 25 best museums and galleries in the nation, and works with international partnerships (e.g., Capitoline Museum in Rome). To put things in perspective, less than 3% of museums in the nation have achieved accreditation. Home to more than 16,000 objects in the permanent collection, the galleries of this museum are open to the public except on Mondays, and host several thousand schoolchildren each year – an asset we are proud of, and an asset we share with our community. Check out their calendar of events.

The Museum of Anthropology at Mizzou has millions of objects documenting the prehistory of Missouri, serves as a repository for federal and state collections, and works actively to ensure that we are compliant with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Also, it includes a Museum Support Center off site.

At a time when some national museums are shutting down, we have a unique opportunity in the middle of the country to preserve our museum assets.

And now your turn – How should we assess the role of museum assets in the context of the new Resource Allocation Model?