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What was once known as the Anthropology Museum at Southwest Minnesota State University is now the Social Science Museum, thanks in no small part to history major Emily Schoephoerster.

April 21, 2012
Story, photo by Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

Next time you find yourself at Southwest Minnesota State University, make a stop in Alaska, Africa and China.

You can find samples of those places in the newly-opened Social Science museum located in the Social Science building, room 101.

The old Anthropology Museum has re-opened as the Social Science museum. Emily Schoephoerster, an SMSU senior and history major, has been working all semester on inventorying the collection and setting up the exhibit.

Article Photos

Emily Schoephoerster, an SMSU history major, adjusts a jalabiya, a traditional Arab garment. Schoephoerster recently reorganized the closed Anthropology Museum in the Social Sciences building and re-opened it as the Social Science Museum.

The effort has earned her three credits in her independent studies class and has given her invaluable experience in setting up a museum.

"I think it would be cool to work in a museum," she said. "I've researched the different jobs there are - curator, researcher."

In addition, Schoephoerster said, setting up and working in the museum has been "a lot of fun. Very rewarding and interesting."

Attendance at the museum has been pretty steady, Schoephoerster said.

"People are surprised at all the cool stuff," she said.

Visitor Rhonda Luschen, a hospitality management major, toured the museum last Wednesday.

"I've walked by it before a couple times and I thought I would stop by and take a look," Luschen said.

The museum is well lit and located at a busy corner on the first floor of the Social Science building. Large windows make it easily seen also.

"It used to have ugly '80s blue curtains," Schoephoerster said. "I took those down."

Schoephoerster said the last time the museum was open was in 2001-2002.

"That's the last (academic) year I found budget papers for," she said.

It was opened in 1977.

At that time it had an anthropology focus, but it now is encompassing a greater range of academic disciplines.

"We hope to have justice administration, psychology, sociology displays, any of those instead of just anthropology," she said.

Currently on display are two cases of Alaskan artifacts from the collection of Thomas and Nancy Dilley. Thomas Dilley is an environmental science professor at SMSU who has lived in Alaska. The display includes carvings, masks, jewelry and clothing.

Another display case contains everyday Chinese items such as a newspaper, hotel stationery and books. The articles were donated by former SMSU professor Catherine Tysinger who visited China in the 1970s.

Another exhibit was donated to the museum by an international SMSU student, Ekua Lartson from Liberia, Africa. She donated items such as knives, bowls and jewelry from the Kpelle tribe.

Other items on display are from places closer to home including Dakota Sioux pipestone carvings, pipes and beaded medallions.

Schoephoerster said she was helped in her endeavors by Vicky Brockman, the social science department chairwoman, social science faculty and by SMSU maintenance workers who helped me "move things and clean."

The museum is open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and by appointment. To make an appointment, email It will close in the summer and re-open in the fall.



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