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History loves company

March 31, 2012
By Jim Tate - SMSU , Marshall Independent

Emily Schoephoerster didn't exactly find history as a major.

"I'd say it probably found me," said the Southwest Minnesota State University senior.

For the past semester, Schoephoerster has been transforming the old Anthropology Museum at SMSU.

"It hasn't been open for years - we don't even have an anthropology major anymore," she said.

The museum will be renamed the Social Science Museum at noon grand re-opening celebration next Tuesday, April 3.

Schoephoerster has been doing a 3-credit individual study under the supervision of history chairwoman Vicky Brockman.

"She's worked very hard to reorganize the collections and exhibits," said Brockman.

"When Vicky became the chair, that's one of the things she said she wanted to do," said Schoephoerster, "getting it back up and running. I talked to her about it, and she said 'Let's do it.' I've been working the entire semester cleaning it out, reorganizing things, taking inventory of the artifacts, taking everything out of the cases, cleaning and putting up new exhibits."

The old Anthropology Museum started in 1977, but has been open rarely over the past 10 years or so, said Schoephoerster.

"Nobody knows," she said. "I was going through some papers and saw a budget paper from 2001. It's been a few years."

What has she discovered during the process?

"How much cool stuff that no one has been utilizing," she said. "There are a lot of things that can be good for different academic disciplines."

A number of items have been in storage, and cataloging all of the items has been tedious work. "We inventoried everything, put more shelves in, more display space."

Her favorite items include a number of artifacts from India, along with some African jewelry. She's also impressed with a display of Alaskan artifacts owned by Geology Professor Dr. Thomas Dilley.

"That will be a new display," she said.

The daughter of Rick and Cathy Schoephoerster from Marshall, she selected SMSU because she liked the campus when she was taking some PSEO classes while attending Marshall High School.

She has sociology minor, and enjoys the social sciences in general.

This summer, she'll be an interpreter/ranger at the Pipestone National Monument.

"That's going to be a great opportunity," she said. "I'll be able to talk to visitors, give ours and see how I like that. I think I'd like to do that type of work, or else work with a museum. That's why this project has been so much fun for me. It's given me great experience."

The new Social Science Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the remainder of the academic year. It will open back up in the fall, she said.

"I really could not have done it without the support of the entire social science area, especially Vicky Brockman, and the maintenance workers who have helped me," she said. "It's been fun seeing it come together."

Brockman said the new museum "will be a little broader in focus, we'll be able to bring in more historical things, have an exhibit dedicated to psychology, work on bringing in some traveling exhibits. I think the public will enjoy the results of what we're trying to do."



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