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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona State Museum open house brings the past to the present

Nagisa Tsukada

The Arizona State Museum had various pieces, such as this Egyptian jar and this Grecian bowl, out for display during their open house on Friday Sept. 14.

Arizona State Museum held its annual Open House for students and faculty of the University of Arizona on Friday.

Visitors enjoyed special exhibitions and opportunities to talk with experts as well as free food and raffles.

“Whatever you are, faculty member or student, remember this is more than a museum. This can be your classroom,” said ASM Director Patrick Lyons as opening words. 

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ASM was established in 1893 as an affiliate museum, located on the UA campus. This is the oldest and largest anthropology museum in Southwest. It has nationally contributed to studies in variety of disciplines such as anthropology, archeology, ethnology and ecology.

The museum is a three-story building. The first floor has exhibitions and a shop, and upper floors have rooms for research like library and laboratories and administration offices. 

ASM holds an Open House every semester: fall for students and faculties, spring for the general public. This open house was mostly advertised for students, although community members were welcome, too.

“People who teach want students to know research, laboratory and variety of things to become a part of education program,” said Jen Tellman, a member of the Friends of ASM Collections. 

Visitors took a tour of some laboratories, including bioarcheology and zooarcheology. Those labs showcased plastic replicas of skulls and bones. Visitors listened to explanations by professors and asked questions.

In addition, researchers exhibited some of their secret collections just for this event.

For example, they opened archaeological repository on the second floor, where public is usually not allowed, and according to Todd Pitezel, one of the curators of Archaeological Collections, curators selected items from their own profession.

“What we want to show here is a variety of stuff that the Arizona State Museum takes care of,” Pitezel said. “For example, my study area is Chihuahua, Mexico, Casas Grandes tradition, so I pulled specifically related to that area.” 

They also displayed prehistoric or historic artifacts from Downtown Tucson excavation and other parts of Arizona, Mesoamerica and Egypt. The types of artifact varied as well, featuring stone blades, wooden spear-throwers called atlatls, a sandal and pottery.

“But we have not only archeology,” Pitezel said.

One of the first floor exhibitions, Hopi Katsina Dolls: Enduring Meanings and Stylistic Changes, displayed not only traditional dolls but also contemporary ones created few years ago. 

Those diverse ASM collections seemed to excite UA students.

Katherine Tu is a freshman student majoring in anthropology. She has visited the museum several times, and she came to the Open House as a part of her homework.

“It’s cool, because last time I’ve been here, I could just only walk on the first floor, and second floor was not open,” Tu said. “But today it’s open and very a lot of rooms are open. The collections are very close to me, and I think like ‘Oh, it is so cool.’”

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Students who are interested in one of the areas related to ASM studies signed up to be volunteers and interns.

Also, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, a nonprofit organization affiliated with ASM that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016, promoted its activities and field trips.

The museum opens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The admission is free with CatCard or $5 for adults. For more information, visit

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