Artifacts vs. Archives: The Exhibit

This is a post by CAP intern Paige on her final project.

By this time I’ve more or less completed my exhibit. In short, it compares research that I’ve found at the archives with some of the artifacts the 2010 and 2011 Field School students found at MSU. The final product of my work is a digital museum exhibit: Artifacts vs. Archives. By using a program like OMEKA, we are able to organize images of artifacts with data and present them like you would see them in a museum.

I separated my exhibit into fours main sections; one about building materials, another on academic materials, another on everyday activities or common items, and a final section on whiteware. The layout of the exhibit displays an overview page, showing all of the artifacts or quotes used in that section, with an explanation of importance underneath. Another page goes deeper into each artifact or quote directly, relating each to its own specific importance.

Screenshot from Paige’s OMEKA Exhibit

For example, in the section “Building Campus” there is a quote from The Eagle about brick glazers that were at the time on campus, painting the Greenhouse as well as other buildings. This backs up the evidence of the artifact in question, the glazed brick that is also in the same section.  The brick itself is described in full detail, which can be seen by clicking on the photo. You can view the metadata of each item, and it gives an even more in depth look at the artifacts themselves, as well as specific quotes that have been used. Metadata is information about the items, whether it be quotes or actual items. The metadata tells us more details about where we as researchers got the items, and some of the historical information.

Similarly, in the section entitled “Everyday Campus,” we see the very interesting artifact of human hair, trimmings like what you would expect to find at a barber shop. This is exactly what I found as I discovered ties between the hair itself and barbers doing their work on campus. As the area we excavated in our Field Schools happened to potentially be where people dumped their unwanted items, this coincides perfectly. It makes sense that the barber, when he was finished with his work, would take the hair left behind on his way out for the night, and throw it out.

A couple other examples, briefly, are the glass items CAP found related to chemistry, such as test tubes, some whiteware with a painted design, an in-tact inkwell, and a pig mandible. But to understand how each of these artifacts correlates to the MSU Archives, and life in general at this time, you’ll have to take a look at the exhibit.

Check it out on CAP’s OMEKA site: Campus Unearthed and click on Exhibits. While you are there, check out the other exhibits.

Author: Paige

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