Anthropology museum brings culture and history to campus

Each semester, hordes of students spill out into the crowded hallway on the second floor of Landrum Academic Center, nonchalantly passing through the hall, oblivious to the centuries old, cultural artifacts housed within its walls.

Aside from a pair of wooden doors and a sign that reads “Museum of Anthropology,” not much is seen outside the museum that has thrived on Northern Kentucky University’s campus for more than 30 years.

James Hopgood established the museum, which, according to its Web site, serves as hub for education, conservation and research with special focus on archeology and ethnology.

The collection contains crafts of cultures hailing from all over the world, including the Philippines, Thailand and Mexico. The assemblage of Indian artifacts, according to Sharlotte Neely, professor of anthropology and director of native american studies at NKU, aids professors who teach anthropology.

“The museum adds greatly to my teaching of North American Indian courses,” she said.

For anthropology majors, the museum provides a working environment to preserve the ancient artifacts as well as learn the customs and beliefs of their creators.

Items displayed within the museum stem from myriad of cultures.

“Objects include ceramic vessels from the American Southwest, masks from Africa and Papua New Guinea, basketry from the Americas and Africa and textiles from around the world,” said Dr. Judy Voelker, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the museum director.

The pieces of distant cultures and their artifacts are not limited to the museum itself. Photos taken of Papua New Guinea by part-time adjunct Professor of Anthropology Katie Englert adorn the hallways of Landrum.

For those interested in a life of digging up the past, the museum employs student assistants year round. And Voelker says the need for more assistance is growing.

“I will be re-initiating the museum volunteers’ program later this semester. I will accept five student volunteers this semester and it may grow to ten student volunteers next semester,” she said.

Last spring the museum initiated a program called “Sandwiched In.”

The program consisted of both professors and professionals giving 25-minute informal talks on their area of expertise.

Voelker says last year’s topics included the recent excavation of Troy and starvation in the Ghettos during the Holocaust.

They will continue on with the same program this year but added the semester will be highlighted with new topics such as a discussion on the Mammoth Caves.

The museum is also open to non-Anthropology students.

“The Museum is open to the public, In fact, we have provided hundreds of K-12 students tours of the museum over the years,” Voelker said.

Those interested in viewing the various cultures and artifacts can do so by appointment through the Anthropology Department. To get a glimpse beforehand, visit the museum’s website at