Living Museums

How often does a student have the opportunity to do planning for a major museum exhibit, to work with museum professionals, or to participate in the mounting of an exhibit? Under the Living Museums program, WPI students carry out IQP work on a variety of rewarding topics with outstanding museums in New England and at selected sites abroad.

Projects are available during the regular academic year and during E-term. Students work with WPI faculty advisors in the Department of Humanities and Arts, many of whom have extensive experience in working with museums or historical institutions, as well as with museum staff and professionals.

Fruitlands Museums

Located twenty miles north of Worcester, Fruitlands is really four museums in one: Bronson Alcott's Fruitlands Farmhouse; Shaker House; American Indian Museum; and Picture Gallery. Students interested in New England history and culture are encouraged to apply. See Prof. Mott (SL 236, wmott@wpi.edu).

Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester, MA

The Higgins Armory in Worcester houses one of America's largest collections of medieval and Renaissance arms, armor, and martial artifacts, with significant secondary holdings in ancient and non-European materials. Projects generally involve hands-on study of artifacts and research into their cultural, technological, and military context. See Prof. Forgeng (SL 08, jforgeng@wpi.edu).

Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA

A beautifully restored performing arts complex, Mechanics Hall has served as the headquarters of the Worcester County Mechanics Association since its construction in 1857. Projects may focus on the activities of individuals or groups who were instrumental in enhancing the reputation of the Hall. See Prof. Brattin (SL 24, jjb@wpi.edu), Prof. Hanlan (SL 23, jphanlan@wpi.edu), or Prof. Ljungquist (SL 106, kpl@wpi.edu).

The Thoreau Society

The Thoreau Society is an international organization dedicated to furthering the understanding of 19th-century naturalist-philosopher Henry David Thoreau. It runs a bookshop at Walden Pond, and its new Thoreau Institute (a research library in Lincoln, Mass.) is currently under construction. Future projects may focus on ecological topics related to Walden Woods. See Prof. Mott (SL 236, wmott@wpi.edu) or Prof. Ljungquist (SL 106, kpl@wpi.edu).

Martha's Vineyard Historical Society

The society operates the Vineyard Museum (Edgartown, Mass.), which includes a number of historic houses, a library, and the Gay Head Light and Carriage Shed exhibits. IQP possibilities include research on the changing nature of shipping through Vineyard Sound and its economic and cultural impact; research and preparation of museum exhibits; and cataloging portions of the museum's collections. See Prof. Mott (SL 236, wmott@wpi.edu).

Worcester Historical Museum

The museum is planning an exhibit on industrial Worcester, emphasizing the city's diverse industrial base (including manufacturing, machine tool production, boot and shoe factories, garment manufacturing, and most significantly, the metal trades).

Students learn about connections between Worcester's industries and its social and cultural life, and identify and analyze sources that document Worcester's industrial past. See Prof. Hanlan (SL 23, jphanlan@wpi.edu).

Projects at Museums in London

On an alternate-year basis, the Living Museums program has sponsored projects during E-term at the Royal Armouries of the Tower of London and at the Imperial War Museum. Past projects have included research and design of exhibits and work in museum collections. Advisors in the Living Museums program have also advised projects at the London Transport Museum and the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich, England). See Prof. Ljungquist (SL 106, kpl@wpi.edu) or Prof. Hanlan (SL 23, jphanlan@wpi.edu).

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Last modified: February 16, 2010 13:27:18