By IAN FREETH
The BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures opened its new exhibition “Common Threads: Weaving Cultural Identity” Monday.
The exhibition focuses on various cultures from around the world including the Pueblos, Navajo and Numic tribes. Other artifacts come from Peru, India, Guatemala and Polynesia.
Each exhibit includes clothing samples, pottery, photographs, music, country maps and cultural information.
The information within the cases explains in great detail the articles on display and how the articles are integrated into their specific cultures and religions.
For example, in the Indian exhibit, the label reads: “The saris (a cloth panel wrapped around the body as a kind of woman’s dress) can reveal wearers age, marital status, caste, social and economic class, and religious affiliation.”
Since the exhibits main interest is weaving, visitors are allowed to practice their skills on an actual weaving loom from Guatemala.
The museum is put together by the Anthropology Department. The director of the museum is Marti Allen, and the coordinator of public programs is Heather Seferovich. Together they teach various classes in the department. They also have three students working as interns within the museum.
“Students from the department learn everything they need to know to put up an exhibition,” Allen said. “The students are then graded once the exhibition is set. They are graded as if they actually worked in a museum.”
Many of the artifacts are on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History from the University of Utah. The students selected objects from the two museums to research.
This included the information for the showcase summaries. The students also designed all the layouts in the individual cases, including designing some of the special mounts and doing the legal paperwork for all the loans.
Amy Anderson, a senior from Fresno, Calif., worked on the Peruvian exhibit.
“I was involved with a conservation program in January for Peruvian textiles. I did collection management and catalogued various Peruvian artifacts,” she said.
The Anthropology Department is the study of humankind, social and religious institutions and culture.
“We do not show modern scientific and industrial exhibitions. However, we do show ancient sciences and industries relating to the cultures we deal with,” Allen said.
The exhibition is kept small and compact so the visitors can stop and reflect on what they see, Allen said.
“The students have to maintain a certain temperature in the displays to protect the clothing. They use humidifiers to keep the humidity at 30 to 40 degrees,” Allen said.
The fabric artifacts are prone to fading because of strong light, so the room light is kept off. For this reason Allen asks that visitors request for the lights to be turned on when they enter.
The “Common Threads” exhibition runs until the end of May 1999. The Museum of Peoples and Culture is at 700 N. 100 East in Provo. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, except holidays. The museum curators can also accommodate for groups to tour the exhibit evenings if available and booked in advance.
Admission is free to the public; however, donations are appreciated. For a tour guide, the cost is $5 for groups less than 20, and $10 for each group more than 20. Call 378-6698 for more information.