Gannon University unveiled the new home of several ancient tenants Sunday.
The Archaeology Museum Gallery, located on the third floor of the Palumbo Academic Center, is maintained by history professor Suzanne Richard, Ph.D.
The history department, which is chaired by Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., has recently added a concentration in archeology and public history, which will focus on both museums and the application of history that could be utilized by a number of professions including curators and archivists.
Not many students are aware of the museum besides its brand-new entryway, but the history department hopes to change that soon. Although the museum is not open yet,. Richard said she hopes that the Archaeology Museum Gallery will foster a new level of community outreach for the public, K-12 students and Gannon students alike.
Zach Flock, assistant director of admissions, said the new facility will help encourage new students to come to Gannon for a rich scholastic experience.
“Having the Archeology Museum Gallery gives us a way to showcase our programs in history and archeology and related fields in a way beyond just the classroom experience,” Flock said, “because the difference in those programs at Gannon as opposed to other schools is the hands-on application.”
The hands-on experience is something that resonates with Richard as well. She will be teaching an archaeology course in the fall, and Richard said her class will spend a lot of time in the museum.
“What better use of a museum than a hands-on, live laboratory for students,” Richard said. “It’s really going to enhance our program and I’m hoping it will attract more people in the Erie community as well.”
The museum gallery even features a designated area for elementary students to dig for artifacts in the sand, mimicking the excavations of real archaeologists.
“You can learn so much about people by studying their culture,” Richard said. “You become a more complete person.
“What can you do without a historical perspective? I mean, every time something happens in the world I immediately say, ‘Oh OK, I know how to understand this because….’ and it connects to something deeper. History defines us.”
Even though the museum gallery held its grand opening on Sunday, it won’t be fully functional until the fall semester. A lot of that has to do with security, due to the priceless artifacts housed within. Richard suggested that a student would have to be working during the hours that the museum gallery is open.
While not many students may know about this new addition to the history department in Palumbo, Richard said she extends a warm invitation to any student interested in getting involved.
While it would be an exceptional opportunity for any humanities student, Richard emphasized the importance of science students getting involved in the arts and history.
“If anything, a finance student would probably benefit even more,” Richard said. “If you’re going into business or medicine, you may eventually end up in the Middle East or China. Before going, you may want to learn a bit of the language and culture.”
Richard said the museum is not only relevant to the history department, and its location may even change.
“Eventually, we’d love to move it to the first floor where more students could participate,” Richard said. “I’d especially love to see younger students coming in from school buses to learn about these artifacts.”