Kristin Otto The University Museum Blog | New Mexico State University - BE BOLD. Shape the Future.
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The University Museum Blog

Like other museums, universities, and cultural centers around the world, we at the University Museum have been adapting as best we can to the circumstances of COVID-19. As a curator, I love to see museums as active spaces for connections between objects, people, and ideas. I began this job during the pandemic, so it has been particularly challenging for me to not be able to meet everyone in person and welcome you into our physical space.


However, as students in the Museology course discussed when debating the recently proposed definition of “museum” by the International Council of Museum (ICOM), museums should be about more than objects on shelves and text on walls. They are active, collaborative, knowledge-producing places where people meet, exchange ideas, and learn. Unfortunately, communicating activity in a time that mandates limiting personal interaction can be challenging.


Still, work at the University Museum has carried on behind and beyond our walls. In collaboration with the Department of Anthropology and with approval from the College of Arts and Sciences, we recently revised our mission statement to emphasize the process of creating connections in the museum:


The University Museum at New Mexico State University creates opportunities to explore human experiences—past, present, and future. Through the preservation of material culture, exhibitions, teaching, research, and collaborative outreach, the University Museum focuses on the relational connections between New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, the state of New Mexico, the US-Mexico border region, and the diversity of the world’s cultures beyond.


As an integral part of New Mexico State University’s Department of Anthropology, the mission of the University Museum derives from anthropological approaches to museums and material culture, and is consistent with the mission of New Mexico State University. The museum furthers New Mexico State University’s role as a public educational and research institution by preserving and holding collections in the public trust while actively promoting knowledge of diverse historical, contemporary, local, and global cultural heritage.


We invite you to see how we are working towards this mission of exploring human experiences behind and beyond the museum’s walls. Both during the COVID-19 pandemic and following, we will be using this University Museum Blog space as to provide a window into our current projects, strategic priorities, and ongoing collaborations in process. Stay tuned for a variety of posts, including: student/faculty/staff research, our ongoing inventory projects, internship activities, object-based teaching in collections, exhibitions-in-progress, and upcoming events in our collaborative programming. We look forward you to welcoming you in both the museum’s virtual and in-person spaces in the near future!

- Kristin Otto, Curator