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UA News
UA museum packs family fun

EMILY REID/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Marie Edwards takes time Wednesday to read about the Navajo exhibit at the Arizona State Museum. Artifacts and sacred objects are being returned to Native American tribes as the result of a 1990 law requiring human federally funded repositories be returned to the tribes from which they came.
By Biz Bledsoe
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday October 25, 2002

Starting today, families and relatives will stream steadily into Tucson, only to stop at the UA campus and realize there's nothing to do. Well, never fear, because the Arizona State Museum is here. The 109 -year-old, on-campus anthropological museum is offering some special new events today and Saturday only.

Attractions for families at ASM include an impressive sneak peak of the museum's still-in-progress virtual exhibit, entitled 20,000 Pots, 2,000 Years; From Head to Toe Around the World, an exhibit that provides a look at the beautiful and exotic costumes of people around the world; children's activities; and the rare chance to examine artifacts with professionals and to explore the museum's storerooms.

The parental presence is not the sole reason for ASM's extravaganza; the museum holds an open house every year, but this year it was moved from spring to fall. The festivities, held in March for the past 40 years, were moved, in part, to give the UA's annual Family Weekend another dimension.

"(Open house) is our grandest and largest attempt to bring our collections to the public," said Darlene Lizarraga, the Marketing Coordinator for ASM. "(By moving open house to coincide with Family Weekend) we're hoping to help the campus show off just a little bit more of all that we are and all that we do."

Diane Dittemore, the Ethnological Collections Curator and organizer of the From Head to Toe Around the World exhibit, is enthusiastic about the change.
DEREH FROUDE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Mary Ann Parker, a retired teacher from Tucson, is drawn into the photography of local photographer Mary Goodman Wednesday afternoon at the Arizona State Museum. Goodman's work, featuring American Indian artists, is currently on exhibition at the Arizona State Museum.

"(ASM) saw that we had a great opportunity to dovetail (open house) with Family Weekend," Dittemore said. "The idea of throwing our doors open and letting people see behind the scenes is certainly a function of our open house weekend."

And a behind-the-scenes look is what patrons will get this weekend. Starting with today's activities, which are more adult-oriented, and ending Saturday with additional events for children, the ASM open house promises the rare opportunity to experience the museum from an insider's perspective.

One never-before offered activity is the chance to view the process behind ASM's creation of a virtual gallery of their extensive collection of southwest pottery. Working with the UA's Multimedia Learning Lab, ASM Webmaster Laura LePere has organized the painstaking project, which is slated to finish in July 2003. When complete, the virtual gallery will enable anyone with a computer and Internet access to view the 20,000 pot collection, the largest and most comprehensive in the nation.

"We still have hundreds of hours of work (left on the project)," LePere said. "The final presentation will have (pottery) Îmovies,' along with information about each of the pots, and also for many of the pots I've interviewed curators and experts from the museum."

The process involved taking 36 photos of each pot, and then using Quick Time Virtual Reality software to stitch the photos together, creating a lifelike view of each artifact. When complete, the virtual gallery will allow people to examine a pot from all angles, even looking inside, as if they were actually holding it. At the open house, computer experts from the Multimedia Learning Lab will be on hand with equipment to demonstrate the process.

"This weekend will be sneak peak at a little bit of what the presentation will be like," LePere said. "The main thing will be being able to see the process in action; that's the really special thing."

Another unusual look at some of ASM's offerings comes with the From Head to Toe exhibit.

"In the past for open house we've highlighted one collection, but this year I thought it might be sort of fun to do an approach that used to be very en vogue in anthropology, which is to look across cultures," Dittemore said. "I'm going to just bring out a sampling of costumes that we have in our collections÷bead-work, hats from Mexico, Chinese foot-binding shoes÷it's going to be a whole look at costumes throughout the world."

All the while, patrons of the exhibits will be able to speak with anthropologists, curators, and other experts from the museum that are leaders in their fields. Patrons can even watch archaeologists examine pottery sherds in the lab and ask questions.

"(This year's open house) is brand new·so for families who might have been on campus before, this will be something new for them to check out," Lizarraga said. "I don't think they'll be disappointed. The collections speak for themselves."


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