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This Is How It Happened: Museum Object Class Exhibition with WWII Institute

Published November 1, 2015


MusObjBannerIn November 2015, Art History undergraduates in the Museum Object class under the direction of PhD student Ali Reilly developed the exhibition This Is How It Happened: An Officer’s Perspective on the Okinawa Occupation in the WJB Gallery. Curated from and with the help of the FSU Institute on World War II and the Human Experience collection, the exhibition followed one Naval Officer’s perspective on the end of World War II and the Occupation of Okinawa using photographs that he took during the war. The opening reception drew a crowd of students, faculty, and members of the general public, who explored the photos and mementos while listening to a recreation of a 1940s radio broadcast developed by students in the class.

Dr. Kurt Piehler
, Director of the Institute of World War II and the Human Experience, gave a gallery talk on December 4 about the archive and the exhibition materials. The focus of the Institute is “collecting and preserving the memories of people who served in the military or volunteered on the home front during WWII and the immediate post-war period (1939-1949).” The Institute houses the sixth-largest WWII archive in the world.

Student-curated exhibitions are an increasingly important and lively component of the Museum & Cultural Heritage Studies program. Thanks to the availability of the exquisite WJB Gallery, helpful collaborations with faculty and staff, and the generous cooperation of university and local collections, students are able to mount a new exhibition every semester. From curating to promotion to exhibition design, the entire production is a hands-on learning experience for our students. This semester, the class added a fundraising component to the process, allowing students to learn the fundamentals of development while also supporting their ambitious plans for the exhibition. The project was hosted by SparkFSU, a university fundraising platform that allows students to initiate and design innovative and entrepreneurial projects with financial support garnered from alumni and friends.

The Museum Object Class is limited to only 12 students and instructor approval is required to register. The course combines museum history, practice and theory with hands-on work through exhibitions and internships. Students are given the opportunity to view objects and the culture they represent from perspectives of not only art history but also archaeology, anthropology, history, and natural science. During the semester, they conceive, design, and execute an exhibition and create an online companion exhibit. This semester’s class consists of: Marissa Acey, Daniel Bianco, Stephen Bigel, Janet Clement, Mya Frieze, Madeline Hart, Michelle Ibarra, Erika Iversen, Geena Jones, McKenna Mulvany, Lisa Ortigas, Alexandra Refosco, Carla Russo, Helena Tracy, Caroline Turner, and instructor Alison Reilly, Ph.D Student, Department of Art History.