This past May, Museum Studies graduate student Katherine Loughrey presented at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual conference. Her presentation, a segment in the Emerging Innovators session, focused on her work with the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art’s Education Collection.
Over the past year, Loughrey has inventoried, cataloged, and re-housed the 230 object collection intended for hands-on educational use. The collection is an integral facet of the Harn’s education plan, and “provides a way for all visitors to interact with the collection on a tactile level” Loughrey states.
“The collection is very special and brings visitors together as a family or as strangers to touch objects that are similar to those on view in the museum. Tactile experiences are important for people of all ages,” Loughrey continues, “they are the primary way young children learn about the world and remain a key sensation for all our lives. Promoting touch and conversation around objects can build visual literacy and fosters a deeper appreciation of museum pieces and everyday objects.”
The presentation was interactive, and incorporated objects from the collection such as a 20th century Dan masquerade doll, African glass bead jewelry and replica Chinese porcelain vases, along with their custom-built storage boxes. Overall the session was well attended by several hundred museum professionals from across the nation. Information sharing among participants in the Emerging Innovators session was a huge success, and the University of Florida Museum Studies program was well represented by Loughrey at this busy event.
Loughrey is in her second year of the Museum Studies program and is concentrating on museum education, particularly the intersection of museums and their communities.