Exhibiting Native American Cultures:

Eiteljorg Points of Contact Exhibit


Topics in MSTD  A460/A560


Dr. Larry J. Zimmerman

MSTD A460 (Section 8099), MSTD A560 (Section 8098)

CA 434 and Eiteljorg Museum, 3:00-5:45 PM Tuesday 


Office: 433 Cavanaugh

Telephone: 317-274-2383; Fax:  317-279-5220; E-mail: larzimme@iupui.edu.

Office Hours: Generally, MW 10:00-Noon, TR 11-Noon; 2:00-3:30 PM or by arrangement. See me before or after class too. You may also make an appointment with the Anthropology department secretary (CA 409) who will also take your phone number so I can confirm the appointment or change it.


Course Description


This is the third of three courses geared toward reinstallation of the Native American galleries at the Eiteljorg Museum. This class is specifically aimed at working with an Eiteljorg Museum curator and the professor to plan two exhibitions within the theme, Points of Contact, a possible primary theme for reinstallation of the Eiteljorg galleries. “Points of Contact” is meant to be a broadly defined theme covering the history of contact between American Indians and Euro-Americans, but also contact between Indian nations during the millennia of Native habitation of North America. In the prior classes we arrived at definitions: a) Contact is a process that occurs when cultures meet and interact. 2) A point of contact is an event, a moment in time, a place, an object, or a product that results from the interaction. The first class in the series focused on the academic issues surrounding situations of Contact. The second class emphasized collaboration, and students developed ideas to educate the public about Contact using the Eiteljorg Indian Market as a focal point. As well, students developed a plan for an academic symposium on Points of Contact.


The third course is a practicum where you will learn by actually planning two small exhibitions while working with the instructor and Ray Gonyea, Curator for Native American Art and Culture at the Eiteljorg Museum. Collaboration is a continued theme of the class. We will do basic research and planning on two Points of Contact exhibitions, which may be incorporated into eventual gallery plans at the Eiteljorg (obviously, no promises can be made to this effect!). One project will take existing exhibits on the fur trade in the Great Lakes and attempt to build an exhibit on Irish fur trade in the Indiana region with the Miami and neighboring nations. As time allows, a second possible exhibit plan will be discussed in class. For example, you may wish to plan an exhibit about the impact of Euroamerican educational systems on Indian people in the Indiana region. Besides exhibit plans you also will work on developing plans for some educational activities keyed to the exhibits.





Although the objectives of this course are many, several are key:


1.   You should learn how to use major research tools to provide information about the subjects of these exhibits.

2.   You should recognize the names and primary research interests of Native Americans, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars who have dealt with contact and impacts associated with the fur trade and education.

3.   From a wide range of academic materials, you should learn how to develop key concepts that are capable of being represented in exhibits and educational programs.

4.   You should learn various approaches that allow curators to move from key concepts to exhibit plans and educational programs.

5.   You will learn how curators select, locate, and use objects for exhibits as well as develop accompanying materials.

6.   You will learn some of the sensitive cultural issues involved in cross-cultural interaction and representation.

7.   You should find the importance of collaboration and teamwork reinforced. As well, you will learn a range of collaboration tools.


OnCourse & Web Site


This class will use OnCourse as a primary organizational tool, especially for communication of information. The class also has a web site with information from the prior classes and resources that will be generated by this class. That url is http://www.iupui.edu/~mstd/exhibit3/.


Class Format


This class primarily will be a practicum where you learn by doing. We initially will do an overview of the exhibit planning and its various aspects, with discussion and group work.





In a performance-based practicum it is difficult to use standard testing or similar devices to assess grades. You will be expected to commit a minimum of 150 hours to this class, and you will be expected to give brief oral reports of progress on assigned tasks. The grades will be assigned on a +/- system. Grades will be assigned as follows:

·         20% of your grade will be assessed on the number of hours you record. 150 hours will be recorded as a C, 160 Hours as a B, and 170 hours as an A, with amounts in between as a +/-.  (Note: this includes scheduled class times.)

·         20% of your grade will be assigned by peers. They will evaluate your performance based on their assessment of your contribution to collaborative projects. The grades assigned by classmates will be averaged to reach a single grade.

·         20% of your grade will come from your assessment of your own work in the class.

·         40% of your grade will come from a “portfolio” of your work (electronic or “hard copy” nature to be discussed), which will include all assignments and an assessment of your contribution to exhibit and educational plans. This will be instructor graded.


Because of the nature of performance-based classes, earning extra credit will not be possible.


Obviously grades in a practicum for the most part are “subjective,” but with a base component of hours worked and several assessments of your performance by different evaluators, there should be a substantial degree of fairness in the process. When a practicum depends heavily on collaborative efforts, the biggest sins are not attending and not doing your part of the work.


There will be a midterm grade assessment based on hours worked and the peer evaluations.



Graduate Students


Because more is expected of graduate students, your tasks will include planning of group meetings, overseeing any arrangements or necessary research, and coordinating reports to the whole class and Eiteljorg curators. 




The goal of this practicum is to produce an outline of a plan for at least one Points of Contact exhibition involving the fur trade in the region. If we can, we’ll try to have something you can put in your portfolios if you wish (assuming you have one or wish to start one).




There are no assigned books for this class, but the following books are recommended:


  • Native North America Larry Zimmerman and Brian Molyneaux. University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.  ISBN: 0806132868
  • The Changing Presentation of the American Indian: Museums and Native Cultures edited by W. Richard West.  University of Washington Press, 2000. ISBN: 0295977817
  • The Manual of Museum Exhibitions  edited by Barry Lord and Gail Dexter Lord. AltaMira Press, 2002. ISBN: 0759102341


You will receive additional reading assignments from articles, book chapters and web sites as warranted. These will be available in the Department of Anthropology office and/or will be made available online.


Tentative Schedule of Activities & Topics


This schedule is considered to be tentative. I reserve the right to make changes in dates or topics/activities based on class needs or opportunities for learning experiences as might arise. Note: When the preparation says List, write down, or something like that, please post it on the Forum on the class OnCourse site and e-mail a copy to Professor Zimmerman. Please try to do this no later than Monday evening before the Tuesday class so that people have a chance to look over your thoughts.

Note Well: If you’ve had one of the earlier classes, I try to “go with the flow” of class needs and to a degree, your desires. This means that the schedule below is tentative at best and may change if a better direction is suggested or offered as an opportunity.


Aug 29  Introduction to the course: where we have been.  The Concept of Contact; The Fur Trade; discussion of a second possible exhibit.

Meet: 433 CA

Sept 5  The nature of exhibits. A closer look at Mihtoseenionki  Develop a framework for evaluating Native American exhibits. 
Meet: Eiteljorg 
Preparation: Read online materials about development of Mihto as noted on class web site


Sept 12  Meet Ray Gonyea. Discussion of Irish Fur Trade exhibit.  Chicken or egg?: Research or mission statement?
Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation:  (Study the catalog online as shown on class web site).


Sept  19 Core Research Skills; building an annotated bibliography of sources; look at online exhibits 
Meet: 433  CA

Preparation: Look at the following Web sites on the fur trade—


Your task with these web sites is 1) to determine the kind of information available on the site; 2) to evaluate its content; 3) to assess its possible utility to understanding the fur trade in the Indiana region; 4) to assess what kinds of artifacts/objects are common in fur trade exhibits; and 5) to describe how artifacts or something else might be “points of contact.”  Do a similar assessment of 7 more web sites. Look deeply into the web site for you assessment; some are amazingly shallow while others seem shallow, but are very deep with content. Focus on sites that deal with the western Great Lakes Fur Trade, not so much on the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade.

Sept 26 Develop a summary of the culture of Miami, Wea, and other groups living in the Indiana region at the time of contact.  

Meet: No formal class meeting. (some may be attending the Association of Midwest Museums meeting).  Zimmerman is willing to meet with individual students.

Preparation: Do individual or group work


Oct 3  Develop basic structure for a possible exhibit themes—brainstorming ideas.  The problem of timelessness Can we bring the ideas  into the 21st century? Developing an exhibit mission statement.


Meet: 433 CA

Preparation: Write down 5 ideas or approaches for points of contact and how we can amplify the British Museum Exhibit or more precisely link it to Indiana area. Put these ideas into the context of a mission statement for the exhibit. What do we wish to accomplish?

Oct 10:   Moving from Fantasy to Reality: Looking for objects. Meet with Amy McKune, Collections, Ray Gonyea. (Depends of schedule of Amy and Ray)

Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation: List ideas about the types of objects need to meet the mission statement.


Oct 17  Putting it all together. How do we go about it? What are the elements of this exhibition plan? A virtual exhibit?

Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation: Try to outline, plan, rough out one panel of an exhibit for this.


Oct 24 Beyond the exhibit: Educational programs to complement the project. Meet with Cathy Burton, Education Director

Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation: List and describe at least 5 ideas for possible projects or programs to accompany the exhibit.


Oct 31  Cleanup on the plan. Trying it again: the second project. Discussion of directions to follow.

Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation: List and discuss your reasons for wanting to pursue another project. Be ready to talk about these in class.

Nov 7   Cleanup on project 1 plan; develop mission statement for project 2
Preparation: Draft a possible mission statement for project 2

Nov 14 Start basic research on project 2

Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation: Develop an annotated bibliography of written sources and web sites; post them on OnCourse


Nov 21  Brainstorm possible approaches

Meet: Eiteljorg
Preparation: List and discuss at least 5 ideas for putting together an exhibition that will meet the mission for Project 2.


Nov 28 Thinking about Project 2 objects and educational programs

Meet: Eiteljorg

Preparation: List types of objects you would like to use for Project 2. List possible educational programs.


Dec 5  Warm down

Meet: Sky City Café, Eiteljorg

Preparation: Leave room for a snack after lunch.


Academic Misconduct


All work in the course is conducted in accordance with the University’s academic misconduct policy. Cheating includes dishonesty of any kind with respect to assignments. Plagiarism is the offering of someone else’s work as your own: this includes taking material from books, web pages, or other students, turning in the same or substantially similar work as other students, or failing to properly cite other researchers. Please consult the University Bulletin’s academic misconduct policy if you have any questions about what constitutes academic dishonesty. In this class, misconduct also includes purposeful violation of ethical museum practice and particular Eiteljorg Museum rules. If academic misconduct is discovered, you risk losing all credit for the class.


Attendance Policy


As Woody Allen says, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up!” This class is the same: to do well, you have to be there.  Because we only have 15 weeks, there is a great deal to accomplish. Also, because the class is small, your absence will be obvious. For three unexcused absence  your final grade will be reduced by one letter grade, then each additional absence will result in the loss of an additional grade. Excused absences are the usual: documented illness, emergencies, participation in sanctioned university events, extreme weather that would endanger you. If at all possible, please send me an e-mail or phone if you know you won’t be attending. Note well: the one major attendance sin is not to show up when you have a presentation due in class. Better to show up and not have it done than just not to show up.

Administrative Withdrawal 

The School of Liberal Arts supports IUPUI’s administrative withdrawal policy. You may find detailed descriptions of standards and policies for administrative withdrawal at http://registrar.iupui.edu/withdrawal-policy.html.  Contact the Anthropology Department Chairperson with questions about Anthropology Department policies.


Other Matters


  • Note Well: For any written assignment you may turn in drafts to me so long as they are ahead of the due date. At your request, I will quickly read the draft and make suggestions regarding content, organization, or writing. You can then take my suggestions and rewrite if you wish. You can turn drafts in any number of times so long as it is before the due date. Plan ahead, however, in that if I am deluged by many papers at one time, I won’t have time to get through them before the due date.
  • Contact me as soon as possible if you cannot complete an assignment on time. E-mail is a good way to do this. I check my email several times, almost everyday. 
  • Please do NOT wait until after a deadline to talk to me. Do NOT postpone talking to me if you are having any difficulty completing an assignment or if you are having difficulty with the class.
  • Classroom courtesies: These should go without saying, but please try to observe usual classroom courtesies: 1. Pay attention while others are speaking or giving presentations. You certainly want them to pay attention to you! 2. If you arrive late, try to be as inconspicuous as possible as you enter. 3. Turn off cells phones before you come to class; they may interfere with the instructor’s navigation system if you don’t. If you are awaiting an emergency call (birth, death, etc., or an event of that level), set your phone to vibrate, then go outside the classroom to answer it. Please, no text-messaging in class!
  • Most of our meetings will be in the Eiteljorg Museum. They have strict rules regarding use of their spaces. Please obey all posted rules regarding food and drink, and do not try to enter prohibited spaces without permission.


Need Special Assistance?

If you have learning problems that might require special accommodation for completion of class assignments, please notify me of these matters within the first two or three class periods. I’ll make every effort to make things work for you. You may wish to contact Adaptive Educational Services (AES), Cavanaugh Hall, Suite 001E , 425 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202–5140, Tel: (317) 274–3241, TDD/TTY: (317) 278–2050, Fax: (317) 278–2051, Email: aes@iupui.edu. Staff there can provide a range of assistance.

Student Advocate Office


Do you have a problem you don't know how to solve?

Is there information you cannot find?

Do you have a question that needs an answer or a problem that is affecting your class attendance?


The Student Advocate Office is here to help! I will answer your questions, direct you to the appropriate departments and people, familiarize you with university policies and procedures, and give you guidance as you look at ways to solve problems and make choices.


The Student Advocate Office is located in UC002 and can be contacted by phone at 278-7594 or email at stuadvoc@iupui.edu. For more information, see the Student Advocate website at: http://www.life.iupui.edu/advocate/


This is a large university and there are lots of policies, rules, etc. I recommend the “Registrar’s Home Page” which is a useful source of information and suggest you bookmark http://registrar.iupui.edu/. Please also note that as of August 14, 2006, IUPUI became a smoke free campus.  For more information see: http://www.iupui.edu/~nosmoke/. For information regarding drop/add policies and dates see: http://registrar.iupui.edu/drop.html.


General Comments


Within reason, I will do everything I can to facilitate your learning, but I can only do so much. Ultimately, because this is a practicum, learning the course material is your responsibility and you will learn best by practice.


Please feel free to contact me if you have concerns or issues.  Regarding missed assignments, I understand that family emergencies can be out of the ordinary. However, if you do ask for special treatment, it will normally come at some additional cost to you in terms of expected amounts of work.


In this class you will be representing the Museum Studies Program to the Eiteljorg Museum staff and other groups. We expect you to follow standard museum ethical practice and common courtesy. Please be sure to remember this at all times!