New graduate, undergraduate student groups strive to increase museum involvement

Gabrielle Stewart
September 11, 2019

Two new College of Earth and Mineral Science’s (EMS) student groups were recently formed to strengthen the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery’s connection to the college, the University and local communities. The graduate group, the Society for Museum Science Education (SoMuSE), and the undergraduate Museum Club envision the museum as the hub of EMS: a space to connect the community within and beyond the college and to experience the college's diversity of research and historic collections. The clubs plan to organize events and exhibits that educate, inspire and celebrate the EMS community.

Claire Cleveland, a doctoral student in geosciences who serves as the graduate student representative on the EMS Museum & Art Gallery Advisory Council, recognized that graduate students could be a valuable resource and aid in museum programming. During the summer, Cleveland, in collaboration with Jane Cook, the new director of the EMS Museum & Art Gallery, launched SoMuSE with graduate representatives from each of EMS’ five departments.

Each of the SoMuSE representatives will host their own event or lead the creation of an exhibit.

“The idea is to include and engage all of our college’s departments,” Cleveland said. “It’s crossing boundaries and bridging disciplines as well as getting us to share our science and broaden our ability to think bigger and to extend our ideas.”

Rachel Gutierrez, a doctoral student in meteorology and atmospheric science, has a tentative plan for her event.

“I’d like to host an art and science exhibit where the community submits artwork that represents science,” Gutierrez said. “I’d like to increase awareness of science while encouraging people to indulge their artistic side.”

Michelle Ritchie, the Department of Geography representative, plans to create an exhibit on women in geography.

“By highlighting the diversity and accomplishments of influential and underrepresented individuals who have contributed to the discipline, I hope to engage those within and beyond the department,” Ritchie said. “My hope for the exhibit is to encourage young women interested in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) disciplines.”

Ultimately, the group hopes to promote interest in the EMS Museum & Art Gallery.

“SoMuSE is creating a museum that really represents the students,” said Gabriella Harris, a doctoral student in geosciences and representative for the Department of Geosciences. “By bringing in the graduate students to create events and exhibits, we’re making the museum more dynamic.”

When Seamus Rother, a senior in energy business and finance, worked in the EMS Ryan Family Student Center this summer, he was responsible for opening the museum every day. Seeing the displays gave him an idea: an exhibit that would incorporate all five departments of EMS to highlight the connections between them.

He took the idea to Cook, who connected him to Cleveland. Soon enough, Rother had the undergraduate club in the works.

“The club will give undergraduate students experience in communicating their science and offer opportunities for them to learn how museums connect people with big ideas through creating many different types of exhibits,” said Cleveland.

In addition to connecting the EMS undergraduate students, Rother has another goal for the club. He would like the club to brainstorm new ideas for museum exhibits that teach the public about the majors the college offers.

Rother hopes these representative exhibits will allow EMS students to feel more connected to the museum.

“When a student’s parents come to visit, I want that student to be able to walk into the museum, point to a display, and say, ‘Hey, Mom and Dad, that’s what my major does,’” Rother said.

Any students interested in the joining the Museum Club can contact Seamus Rother at sjr5682@psu.edu.

Diversity mixer

The two student museum groups and WE ARE for Science, a group that advocates for change, action and inclusion within science, will hold a diversity mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18 in the EMS Museum & Art Gallery, which is located on the ground floor of the Deike Building on the University Park campus. The mixer is designed to support diversity and inclusion in STEAM. The event is open to the public.

There will be trivia and food, and Cook will be introduced as the new director along with the WE ARE for Science Fellows.

“It’s to promote not only friendship and camaraderie but to bring awareness to diversity and inclusion in STEAM,” Gutierrez said.

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Last Updated September 12, 2019