BYU museum expands horizons

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    By Arianne Baadsgarrd

    What looks like an old apartment building south of campus is really a haven for fascinating archeological artifacts.

    Few people know about BYU”s Museum of Peoples and Cultures, which displays intriguing archeological exhibits year round free of charge.

    “I”ve never seen anything like this before,” Nancy Kuncl said, who visits the museum periodically with her husband.

    The museum”s impressive exhibitions are actually produced by BYU students in museum practices classes, said Mauri Nelson, the museum”s curator of education.

    The students of these classes are curators of the exhibitions. They also take charge of the research, design, registration, loan documentation, label writing, installation, and other aspects of production, Nelson said.

    Their new exhibit is called “In Search of Relics: The Pectol-Lee Collection of Artifacts from Capitol Reef.”

    The collection includes Late Prehistoric, Fremont and Anasazi artifacts amassed primarily by Ephraim Pectol and Charles Lee, early settlers of Wayne County, Nelson said.

    The intriguing artifacts include a dear headdress and a unique Fremont cradleboard with a figurine.

    “It”s the only thing like it out there,” Nelson said about the miniature cradleboard that was used to teach young American Indian girls how to be mothers.

    The collection had been kept from modern scientific study because it is privately owned. Only portions of the collection have been exhibited at Captiol Reef National Park, said Heidi Livingstone, a museum employee.

    “Relics Revisited” is a complete photographic catalog that includes a history of the exhibit.

    The other current exhibit, “The Kachinas and Hopi Worlds,” explores the oral traditions of the Hopi people.

    The exhibition”s ancient artifacts illustrate stories about the creation and destruction of the world, the will of the Hopi to overcome evil and the fate of the Lost Red City of the South.

    Colorful Hopi Kachina dolls are on display with the exhibit.

    “The Kachina dolls represent benevolent Hopi spirits that bless the people,” Nelson said.

    Student aids at the museum are eager to share their treasures with new visitors and can give interesting tours on request.

    More information is available on the museum”s Web site which is listed under museums on the BYU home page, said Glenna Nielson, who works with students at the museum.

    The museum is located on the corner of 700 North and 100 East in Provo and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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