The Archaeology Museum, located at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, offers guests (especially those interested in archaeology and its role in society) a chance to glimpse inside the work that archaeologists are doing around the university. This unique collection highlights the study of archaeology as a whole, as well as what archaeologists have unearthed and how that helps better understand the history of the area.
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Part of The Archaeology Museum’s focus is on the Common Read (also known as the Common World Initiative), which encourages people all across the United States to read a common book and share in a national discussion about its theme. A recent featured book was Homecoming, written by author Yaa Gyasi. The book, the first novel from the author, is a historical fiction book focusing on the key subjects/themes of slavery, history, family, race relations (including racism). The Common Read exhibit ties into the DFFAAHT (Dora Franklin Finley’s African American Heritage Trail) tour. This exhibit allows guests to travel back through time, stopping at historically significant events important to shaping the Mobile’s diverse history with a focus on how African Americans contributors who have triumphed past the many struggles they have encountered but have yet to get the proper historical credit.
The museum as a whole features artifacts and historical exhibits from the Gulf Coast area and covers nearly 12,000 years of Alabama’s prehistory as well as history. Many of the exhibits feature life sized replicas and representations of how and where archaeologists work and the discoveries that they have made from a local perspective. Take a peek at the way Woodland cultures lived in ancient times, Mississippi and Alabama people and their mound building, the early French population/settlers, and a day in the life of an African American family after the end of the Civil War. See the importance archaeology has had to Mobile.
Mineral Collection - Alan Borg procured this elaborate mineral collection, which has been on display at the museum. After his death, his collection was donated to the museum with the stipulation that it be on display but also used for undergraduate research and teaching purposes. The exhibit features only a small selection of his huge collection, but also shows the love of geology and minerals that Borg had for his whole life. Even that small collection is one of the largest of its kind on the Gulf Coast. Keep a special eye out for the fluorescent minerals, as they are one of the favorites in the collection.
The archaeology museum plays host to a monthly lecture/talk series, all of which are open to the public and offered free of charge. Generally meant for adult audiences, the topics change depending on what is on exhibit at the museum. They are put on by experts in their field, like university employees and people who are well respected in their fields.
There is also a wide array of family programs offered at the museum, often on Saturdays and even after hours. With craft and story time for the little ones, as well as social events with light refreshments for the adults, there is something for everyone and all events are frequently updated on the website.
Besides the lecture series and family programs, the museum will also hold random special events. One of the most popular is celebrating International Archaeology Day with a celebration full of activities, games, and tours throughout the day.
School field trips are always welcome at the archaeology museum. Tours are built to meet (and exceed) state curriculum standards in Alabama and work toward historical awareness as well as helping to develop critical thinking skills.
Tours can be scheduled by contacting the educational staff at the museum either by phone or by email, which is listed on the website. They are offered Tuesdays through Fridays between the hours of 9:00am and 12:30pm and are around two hours in length. The archaeology museum is able to accept groups of up to 60 or 70 people (generally around 3 classes) at a time. If more students are expected, contact the staff ahead of time to see if they can accommodate. There is a small fee per student.
There is also the option for virtual school tours/field trips through either Google Hangouts or Skype - these are offered free of charge!
University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum, 6052 USA Drive South, Mobile, AL, 36688, Phone: 251-460-6101