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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laura S. Phillips
ARCHY 490
Seattle Campus

Museum Curation Practicum: Archaeology

Application of museological training in curation of archaeological collections including ethnographic, geological, or zoological collection materials in the Burke Museum. Supervised work ranges from fundamental collection documentation and research to preventive conservation, storage, and other special curation projects:

Class description

Please note that Museum 490 is now a pre-requisite for Archy 490.

The Archaeology Department at the Burke Museum curates collections from throughout the Pacific Rim, with the greatest strength in collections from Washington State. The most immediate and urgent need of the Archaeology Department is to upgrade the collections before deterioration causes major problems. Most of the materials need to be cleaned, transferred to non-degradable, curation-quality containers, and moved into permanent storage cabinets.

The purpose of Museum 490 and Archy 490 is to bring interested students into this process. Museum 490 and Archy 490 are upper division courses designed for students with a high degree of interest in archaeology and the ability to work independently. Topics encompass the typical responsibilities of archaeology collections managers and curators, including object handling, storage, access, records management, preventive conservation, ethics, and associated policies.

Museum 490 This course is a formal lecture and lab class. There are set times each week for both lecture and lab. Museum 490 is offered only Autumn Quarter. This course examines the basic principles of collections management involved in the curation of archaeological collections.

Archy 490 Archy 490 is a practicum that builds on what students learn in Museum 490, Archaeology Collections Management. Archy 490 is offered Winter, Spring and Summer Quarters. Classes are strictly hands-on, with students working independently on a variety of collections and tasks. Projects vary considerably, including everything from cataloging new accessions and preparing objects for loans to scanning images and moving large objects. The course is variable credit and students can choose to work in the lab for either 2 or 3 credits, which translate into 6 or 9 hours, respectively. Students are expected to work at least 2 hours at any one time.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Museum 490 This class meets twice a week, with lecture on one day, followed by a lab day on a related topic. Lectures that incorporate active learning. Lab work is hands-on.

Archy 490 Classes are hands-on labs. Students work independently on a variety of collections and tasks.

Recommended preparation

Museum 490 Archaeology background, including field work, as well as 300-level course work. Eagerness to work in an archaeology lab environment with wide variety of tasks.

Archy 490 If you haven't taken Museum 490 in the Autumn Quarter, you will need to have had prior similar training and experience elsewhere. Students must have taken at least one 300-level archaeology course, plus have had some curation experience as well as proficiency in both archaeological fieldwork and lab work. Please note that those students who have taken Museum 490 during the Fall Quarter are given first priority since they have received formal collections training.

Class assignments and grading

Reading assignments, case studies and class/lab participation and attendence are essential.

Lab work in our facility is an integral and unique part of this course. Your respect of the collections, museum security and lab rules is very important. Your grade will be based on performance, class participation, and attendance. For Museum 490, your grade is also based on case studies, readings and an exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Laura S. Phillips
Date: 11/15/2004