The College of Fine Arts at Florida State University is fortunate to have the support of its own Fine Arts Circle, a group of generous patrons who give annual critical funding to various academic programs within the College. In gratitude for their commitment to the College, members of the Fine Arts Circle are periodically invited to take a closer look at individual programs. On Friday, June 17, the Department of Art History hosted Circle members at our field school at Mission San Luis, where Professor Kyle Killian unveiled the exciting research he and his students are digging up this summer.
Professor Killian led the Circle Members to the active excavation site and explained how Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies students are using archaeological field techniques to uncover little known details about the mission’s plantation and viticulture history. He explained how projects such as this use material culture as a means to connect the traditional art historical research and training in which the departmental already excels with other fields of historical inquiry.
The students answered questions about their work at the Mission and unanimously agreed that Art History’s MCHS program, which offers a focus on cultural heritage studies and a one-year internship at the Ringling Museum of Art, is what brought them to FSU for their graduate work. Professor Killian pointed out that through the collaboration of the FSU Department of Art History and the state Bureau of Archaeological Research, these students are getting a unique taste of the technical and conceptual nature of archaeological fieldwork. This practicum prepares them with hands-on training for careers in museum and historical heritage management. The importance of these connections became apparent when the tour concluded at the state conservation and research laboratory on the campus of Mission San Luis, where the students examined and curated the objects they were finding in the field. There Marie Prentice, senior archaeologist for the state of Florida, gave much of her time to discuss how objects there are collected, identified, catalogued, preserved, and used for research.