Spurlock hosts first iSchool class in new Collaboration and Community Gallery overview image

Spurlock hosts first iSchool class in new Collaboration and Community Gallery

  • Post Date: 3/12/2021
  • Author: Gavin Robinson, collections storage coordinator
  • Reading Time: 3 minute read

After months of planning, Spurlock Museum’s very own collections manager, Christa Deacy-Quinn, and assistant collections manager, John Holton, have launched their first museum preservation class at the University of Illinois School of Information Science (external link)(also known as iSchool at Illinois). The course (IS573: Preservation Museum Artifacts) is one of only a few in-person classes being offered by the iSchool this semester. Museum Artifacts takes a practical, hands-on approach to teaching the management and preservation of museum collections. This is the first time an iSchool course has been taught inside the Spurlock Museum, and it has been quite a journey leading up to this moment.

  • students in masks standing at a table each in the Collaboration and Community Gallery each holding a pot
    Students practice techniques for handling artifacts safely at their individual workstations.

A few months before class planning began, staff at the Museum realized that we needed a space to assist UIUC professors with University classes, and that we needed to service 20 to 30 students (this was pre-COVID, of course). So, Director Elizabeth Sutton along with Deacy-Quinn and Museum staff decided to create a new space by carving out and repurposing some of our existing space. Collections staff redesigned Spurlock’s European Gallery and designated space for a new Collaboration and Community Gallery (CCG). The gallery space would be used as a multipurpose room, where activities, like community gatherings, workshops, University classes, and pop-up exhibits, could be held. Consisting of approximately 1700 square feet of open space, with high ceilings, the gallery was a perfect location in which to host the Museum Artifacts class—and it would be a great test run of the CCG’s capabilities.

  • a group of people pushing empty cases
    Collections manager Christa Deacy-Quinn and collections storage coordinator Gavin Robinson are assisted by University of Illinois Facilities and Services Iron Workers in moving European Gallery casework in preparation for the new Collaboration and Community Gallery.

In the final weeks of 2020, efforts were made to space work stations 6 feet apart, create contact-tracing sign-in sheets, designate each student their own tool kit to avoid sharing, and assign daily disinfecting routines. Students were separated into 3 color-coded lab groups, so that during hands-on lab activities, the students would work in the same cohort of 5. By day one of spring semester, all precautions were in place and Museum Artifacts was ready for launch.

  • an empty room with long tables evenly spaced from each other with name cards and a box of materials on each table
    The Collaboration and Community Gallery setup for Preservation Museum Artifacts (IS573). Each student is assigned their own table and supplies to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Keep an eye out for more updates on our new Collaboration and Community Gallery and Deacy-Quinn and Holton’s class. We will be highlighting some exciting lab activities in future posts.

  • woman standing in front of a projector teaching a room full of students with each student at their own table with a mask on
    Collections Manager Christa Deacy-Quinn instructs students on environmental monitoring on the first day of class.
  • two students with gloves and masks bending over two artifacts with a tweezer
    Students practice inspecting artifacts for insect damage.
  • woman in a mask on one side of a table filled with objects facing a group of students in masks
    Christa Deacy-Quinn, collections manager, teaches students about pest-excluding devices during the Integrated Pest Management lab activity.
  • man in a mask holding a box of insects while two students in masks look at the box
    Gavin Robinson, collections storage coordinator, helps a student identify insects caught in a sticky trap during the Integrated Pest Management lab activity.