Black History Matters
Office of Communications and Marketing
820 Chestnut Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101
In celebration of Black History Month, Dr. Christine E. Boston—associate professor for anthropology and sociology—discussed several major themes and accomplishments surrounding LU’s special topics course in museum studies through her presentation “Black History Matters” at Inman E. Page Library on Feb. 7. Boston addressed the partnership between the Missouri State Museum and Lincoln University while also announcing future collaborations in the works for students and other organizations, specifically the Historic City of Jefferson and the U.S. Forest Service.
In her presentation, Boston explained how the collaboration between the Missouri State Museum and Lincoln University was initially inspired by those at the museum who wished to update its Black history exhibit panels to give insight into an accurate, deep understanding of the past. This project specifically incorporated students to inspire and create interest among them in museum studies, which transpires through other educational fields: anthropology, history, humanities, social sciences, and more. One of the goals of this project was to engage Lincoln University students and promote museum studies as a career to a diverse audience and create a more holistic, all-encompassing delivery of history.
When Boston was contacted by the assistant director of the museum for a collaboration on the project, she says she saw the value in it immediately, “not just for the museum but for our students as well. Having that real applied internship opportunity where the students actually got to work with museum staff and create the content for the museum…that’s not something that happens in a lot of universities.”
To begin the project, Boston worked with other LU colleagues—including Executive Director of Academic Initiatives Dr. Darius Watson and Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Brian Norris—to create the special topics museum studies course that coincides with the Missouri State Museum’s project to update their Black history panels. In preparation for this new and innovative class, course framework, required readings and assignments were created. Boston and Missouri State Museum Director Tiffany Patterson taught the museum studies course together in fall 2021.
Boston says that “the course was equally divided between classes held at Lincoln University—where students got instruction in theory and application, as well as time to conduct research—and then classes held at the Missouri State Museum, wherein students learned more in depth about museum studies and the application of those skills.”
In the fall 2021 course, students were divided into three groups. Each chose the topic for their panels on events within Missouri’s contemporary Black history. Boston says students did everything from start to finish with these projects by conducting research, composing exhibit labels with descriptions, selecting the color schemes and layouts of their panels, locating appropriate images and artifacts to go on exhibit with their panels and presenting their research in a similar fashion as museum staff do. Students presented first to their classmates and instructors, then to two different museum boards; the first was a group composed of Department of Natural Resources staff and then the formal state parks leadership who review all exhibits. In September 2022, the students’ exhibit, titled “Trouble and Triumph,” was displayed in the Missouri State Museum at the Capitol Building, and the following month the museum held a reception for the exhibit to formally recognize the students’ hard work and final products.
During her presentation at Inman E. Page Library, Boston emphasized the importance of Black history, stating that when people talk about Black history, “it’s depicted as a history for a certain group of people, or it shouldn’t be part of mainstream history, but, in reality, it is everyone’s history.” She also said that “all students reported extreme satisfaction in the course, noting that they felt like they accomplished something real and meaningful” while appreciating the opportunity to work on topics they felt were most relevant to Black communities of all ages—particularly younger generations, which was one of the primary goals of the project.
Visit “Trouble and Triumph,” the student-created Missouri Black history exhibit, now on display at Inman E. Page Library throughout February for Black History Month. For more details on LU’s special topics course in museum studies, please contact Dr. Christine Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org or (573) 681-6193.