The IUMAA will open in 2022 with five inaugural exhibits that will showcase a variety of materials from both the ethnographic and archaeological collections.
The keystone exhibit will center on the archaeological site known as Angel Mounds and its function as a point of connection between the Mississippian (1050-1425 AD) and broader ancient world and today’s world. The people of Indiana who built and lived at the monumental Mississippian city of Angel Mounds almost 1000 years ago have long since returned to the earth, but their legacy endures in the archaeological record and through living descendants. Angel Mounds was a place that connected diverse cultures in the past, while the monumentality of this sacred and special place has enduring connections today. Mississippian artifacts like negative painted pottery and stone tools will sit alongside videos, audio clips, photographs, and other materials to highlight the fact that the people of the past are the people of today. The keystone exhibit will also feature a virtual reality experience that allows visitors to experience life at Angel Mounds in approximately 1250 A.D.
A second exhibit will feature highlights from the Dee Birnbaum Textile and Jewelry Collection—an assemblage of more than 2,300 items of adornment predominately from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, that represent numerous cultural groups across the geographic regions of the historic Silk Road and former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Included among the artifacts on display will be intricately embroidered dresses from Yemen, coin-laden headdresses from the Sinai Peninsula and sumptuously patterned silk ikat robes from Uzbekistan.
Another exhibit will explore one of the most common questions heard in the exhibit halls, “Where did you get all this stuff?” Collections come to museums in a multitude of ways: many are gifts to the museum, some are purchased from makers or dealers, others are systematically collected from vibrant communities by students or faculty and still others are excavated from sites where people once lived. Collections can tell the stories of the people and places they are from, but they can also help us tell the stories of the people who collected or donated them. Featured collections in this exhibit include: a collection of 20th century Native American artwork collected by Elinor and Vicent Ostrom, renowned IU professors whose work continues in IU's Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis; the Major John White Collection of artifacts from the Tetela people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and North American archaeological collections created by Eli Lilly and Glenn A. Black.
"How We Know" will explore how curators, archaeologists, anthroplogists and other researchers study and learn about people, places, and things represented in our collections. From scientific concepts like stratigraphy or radiocarbon dating to reading objects, maps, and photographs, the exhibit will present methods of curators, archaeologists, anthropologists and other researchers as they study and learn about people, places, and things. Featured artifacts will include rare books and historic maps; materials from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania; projectile points; floral and faunal specimens; and ethnographic materials.
In addition, the IUMAA will feature Visible Storage, a means by which more of its collections are accessible to the public. Themed cases will show the ways that ethnographic and archaeological materials can be used to learn about the diversity and similarities of the world’s cultures across time and space. Selected themes include foodways, the music of the Silk Road, tools of war and underwater archaeology. These themes will allow for artifacts as varied as Ming dynasty ceramics, tools from Angel Mounds, and Middle Eastern musical instruments to be exhibited.