Learn About the People of Mexico at the Museum or Through a Virtual Tour from Your Own School

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) explores the diversity of languages in Mexico.

The IMC has an exhibit that provides an overview of the richness and diversity of languages in Mexico. It highlights samples of the more than 150 native languages still spoken there. The exhibit additionally focuses on some social implications of this diversity of languages within the national life of Mexico.

Electronic Field Trip at the International Museum of Cultures

If you have students that are interested but not able to visit the museum in person, there is another alternative. The IMC also provides insight into Mexico in its Electronic Field Trip. In the IMC Electronic Field Trip, a Museum Docent of Mexican heritage explains to  students that are touring the museum the tonal importance of these languages. Below is a sample of the dialogue in the Museum’s Virtual Tour:

DOCENT: “You can see that most of the non-Spanish speakers live in the southern part of Mexico. Some of the languages are tonal which means that the only difference between “I’m going, and I’m not going” may be the tone of your voice. Likewise, some are also nasal, and you must say a vowel through your nose. If you don’t, you might say “chili pepper”, like I did when you really wanted to say “horse’s tail”!”
STUDENT: “That could be a problem if you were trying to make chili and put a horse’s tail in the pot.”
DOCENT: “You’re right. Languages, to some extent, are partially a result of need. Mixtec dialects can have as many as 20 different words for corn, like the Eskimos have many words for snow: soft snow, slushy snow, icy snow, etc. The Tzeltales in the state of Chiapas have 25 verbs for “carry”, depending on HOW you are going to carry something: on your back, over your shoulder, in a pocket, in your hand, etc. “

View the promotional video of the eField Trip that visits Mexico, South America, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. Learn more by visiting International Museum of Cultures or call us at (972) 572-0462.

Museums Teach Through Stories

Mary Catherine Bateson is an American writer and cultural anthropologist. She is known for making the statement that “The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”

When a person attends a museum, they learn through stories. When a student visits a museum, that student hears and even experiences the story of people from far away lands. Museums have a great deal to offer the educational process in America. Within museums, there is a tide change from the traditional passive contemplation role that was very popular through the majority of the last century and the modern role of the museum to be an active participant in community and education. Museums are recognizing the value they can offer education and are reaching out to the community.

As is stated in The Foundation’s post on Why Museums are Important, “Museums provide a unique interactive experience of getting up close to things we usually only see in books, newspapers or on the television.” 

The International Museum of Cultures is able to bring the stories through artifacts right to the student anywhere in the Continental United States so that the student can have a personal experience with tools, clothes, and instruments from far away lands. The student is then better able to understand different cultures without pre-judgement when encountered by a person of an unfamiliar culture.

These artifacts can be shipped to the educational facility with a complete curriculum that fits into any Project Based Learning initiative. The shipped artifacts to the educational facility is called a Discovery Box. Discovery Boxes allow students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way.

Artifact Discovery box

Artifact Discovery box

Discovery Boxes

Discovery boxes come in 12 different themes and include a variety of genuine artifacts from the museum’s collection. Students are able to touch and examine the artifacts while completing activities and worksheets that encourage them to think critically about the world around them using Project Based Learning (PBL) methods.

For more information about Discovery Boxes from the International Museum of Cultures, please call us at 972 572-0462 or email us at info@internationalmuseumofcultures.org

The IMC Continues its Mission Through Programs Seminars and Exhibits

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) is “A Center for Global Awareness”

Building on the past and looking to the future, the Board of Trustees of the International Museum of Cultures adopted an updated mission statement.

Mission: The International Museum of Cultures provides a venue for opportunities to enhance the public’s understanding, involvement and appreciation of contemporary world cultures through programs, seminars and exhibits. International Museum of Cultures

Below are other important facts about the IMC:

Location: The International Museum of Cultures is located on the access road of Highway 67 in Duncanville, TX. Situated conveniently between all of Southwest Dallas’ major suburban cities and only minutes from downtown Dallas, the IMC is easily accessible to all.

Description: The International Museum of Cultures is the only contemporary cultural anthropology institution in the state of Texas to focus on indigenous peoples and to understand the challenges of existing communities in remote locations of the world. Through exhibits, educational programs, and public events, the IMC celebrates people of diverse cultures in an effort to embrace and promote understanding of cultural differences found both in isolated areas of the world and in our own community. Our focus on living peoples rather than on those of the past provides a rich platform from which to address questions of ethnic and cultural diversity – the Museum’s central interest.

History: The IMC was developed by linguists and anthropologists associated with SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) and chartered in 1979 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the supervision of Dr. William Merrifield. The Museum exhibits are taken directly from the experiences of field linguists. They are rich in the detail and understanding that can only come from first hand knowledge of living in these remote communities and in sharing and appreciating their cultures and friendships. Facility: The Museum occupies its own 20,000 sq. ft. building on highway 67 in Southwest Dallas County. We have a community room that seats 50-75 and conference room available for rental. Our upstairs’ facility is in the process of being developed as a children’s lab. Along with all the usual IMC events, we have the space for meetings, parties, performances, and lectures.

Exhibits: Exhibits include several African cultures including West Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo; South America; eleven countries of Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, China, Mexico, Central America, and Native American as well as an extensive display of weapons and drums from around the world. Short-term exhibits are regularly displayed in the reception area. Traveling exhibits are in place at neighboring libraries and government buildings.

Come visit us at 411 US 67 Frontage Road Duncanville, TX 75137.

If you are an Educator, contact us about our Electronic Field Trip and Discovery Boxes. They come with complete curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, fine arts, and math. For more information, call us at (972) 572-0462

The Roles of Museums and Anthropology

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) is an anthropology museum. This puts the IMC at the center of two role advancements, one that is occurring in the museum industry and the other that is affecting anthropological study.

Cultural context educationWithin the industry of museums, there is a tide change from the traditional passive contemplation role that was very popular through the majority of the last century and the modern role of the museum to be an active participant in community and education. In Anthropology, there is an increased emphasis to apply the findings discovered in the field to the present culture and economic environment of the observer.

Museum 2.0

Regarding the advancing role of the museum in society, Nina Simon posted Participation, Contemplation, and the Complexity of “and” in Museum 2.0 “To me, the backlash against participatory and community-centered experiences is not surprising. I’ve always understood that participatory experiences are not for everyone. I’ve always known that some people feel that social work means mission creep for museums. What surprises me is the argument that participatory and community-centered initiatives, offered alongside many other interpretative strategies, program types, and projects, can erode the value of an institution and the experiences it provides.”

Museums are continuing to increase their role in communities and education by expanding beyond their brick and mortar. Museums are bringing their experiential abilities to the attendee rather than having the attendee physically enter the museum.

Anthropology Advancing

The traditional methods of anthropological study have been to visit far away cultures, report on them and then return to report on the findings. Many of us laymen have fond memories of watching documentaries depicting people living, in our context, within strange and exotic cultures. Anthropology is advancing its role in applying the findings to our contemporary world and our local cultural and economic environment.

The challenge is the acceptance of the fact that all of our perspectives are filtered through our respective traditions and culture. The advanced Anthropological studies understand the human condition of the observer and properly shares the observations in the proper context.

In a post call A Major Value of the Anthropological Project (as I see it), agamwell writes “Sharing our stories with others too, can be helpful, as long as we are able to also understand views as partial, as one among many, and as long as we allow the space for multiple stories, even if contradictory, to exist at the same time. While each of us might not be able to change the world, we can at least change ourselves.”

So museums and Anthropology are moving to expand their roles and, consequently, expand our understanding of the world. The International Museum of Cultures is moving along in step by being a true partner in education. The IMC ships genuine artifacts to educational organizations with related curricular and also offers an electronic field trip delivered to any Web enabled device, also accompanied with related curricular. The purpose is to bring the cultures of the world to our students, in the context of and to improve the student’s world.

Anthropology is in a Constant State of Learning

As Dave Wolf states in his blog post Anthropological Analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Happy Halloween!), “Reliability of informants is a big issue in anthropology; just look at Margaret Meade, who was accused of being duped by her informants in Papua New Guinea.  Several years after she did her field work, another anthropologist went to study the same people to see if her findings held up; they did not, indicating that the informants must have lied to at least one of the anthropologists and possibly both.  This is why it’s important not to rely solely on what informants tell you, but to confirm information with other sources and through participant observation.”

An example of changes in understanding is the new findings regarding Neanderthals. According to the k2p Blog post Neanderthal’s weren’t vegetarian – they just ate the stomachs of vegetarians, the Neanderthals, which were once thought to be ferocious carnivores. Then they were then thought to be vegetarians. The K2P Blog continues that now the belief is that the neanderthals actually were misunderstood as vegetarians “… from eating the stomachs of prey which in turn were vegetarian. Neanderthals were only vegetarian by proxy.”

The k2p blog sites a paper by Laura Buck and Chris Stringer and published in the latest edition of Quaternary Science ReviewsStringer argues that the tiny pieces of plant found in Neanderthal teeth could have come from a very different source. They may well have become embedded in the stomach contents of deer, bison and other herbivores that had then been hunted and eaten by Neanderthals.

Photo from Windows to the Universe. "This photograph, from around 1899, shows an Inuit summer hut."

Photo from Windows to the Universe. “This photograph, from around 1899, shows an Inuit summer hut.”

“Many hunter-gatherers, including the Inuit, Cree and Blackfeet, eat the stomach contents of animals such as deer because they are good source of vitamin C and trace elements,” said Stringer. “For example, among the Inuit, the stomach contents of an animal are considered a special delicacy with a consistency and a flavour that is not unlike cream cheese. At least that is what I am told.”

So, anthropology assisted archaeologists in their assessment. We can see that anthropologists and archaeologists are always learning. That is the where the excitement comes from.

Visit the International Museum of Cultures to experience that excitement and learn about world cultures.

Sharon Tennison’s Message Through Her Book

The International Museum of Cultures is excited about the opportunity to have Sharon Tennison possibly lead an event at the Museum in the next couple of month; dates and times to be announced.

Ms. Tennison is founder and President of the Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI) in San Francisco. Ms.Tennison has worked for 25 years in Russia and the CIS, creating numerous multi-year, multi-million dollar TA programs to provide training for Soviet and Russian citizens to gain independence and skills designed for self governance. She lives and travels extensively part of the year in Russia. Sharon Tennison’s book The Power of Impossible Ideas is available from Amazon.com.

Sharon Tennison

Sharon Tennison

Ms. Tennison contributes to a blog called Russia: Other Points of View. As stated in the Blog’s ‘Welcome Message’, the blog fills a need in the public forum for a venue which offers opinions and facts that at times may differ from the prevailing view in western media. The Blog goes on to state that their point of view is not political, is not theoretical, and is not academic. It comes from decades of working at the grassroots of Soviet and post-Soviet society and being avid watchers of Russian politics, economics, history, societal conditioning and current mindsets.

In a recent blog post, Ms. Tennison  speaks of a meeting she had with a representative from one of Russia’s largest companies in timber and pulp. The man wanted to  discuss how to encourage charitable services and volunteerism among their workers.

The man’s name was Dennis. As stated in Ms. Tennison’s blog, “Dennis seems obsessed to find new ways to create volunteerism where none has existed previously (and was forbidden by the Soviet state – unless permitted by large companies like his).  He dates this current effort to when the American partners came into the corporation. He was proud that during the original negotiations, their American partners approved of the company’s big outlay for social causes.”

Ms. Tennison goes on to state in her blog post “By the end I realized I’d felt more passion from this young man about how to create volunteers out of ordinary Russians than I’d felt in a long, long time”.

Ms. Tennison is no stranger to enthusiasm in her own work. Ms. Tennison’s sister writes in an article published in the Pagosa Springs Journal:

“Her work began before Gorborchov, Yeltsin and the entire Russian revolution; this was the old communist USSR in every way. She created an organization, The Center for Citizens Initiatives (CCI) that intended to introduce American citizens to Russian citizens so the Russians might learn more progressive ways. In the beginning this was less than acceptable for the USSR; there were difficult years.

She also has an “attitude!” Her organization’s motto was “When the citizens lead, sooner or later the leaders will follow.” She has always done things in her own way and always will.”

Stay Updated

Ms. Sharon Tennison is truly an exciting and interesting woman. To stay updated on the plans for Sharon Tennison’s visit to the museum, subscribe to this Blog or contact the International Museum of Cultures at (972) 572-0462.

DonorBridge for the International Museum of Cultures


International Museum of Cultures is participating in the Donor Bridge North Texas Giving Day.Donor Bridge

September 19, 2013, the North Texas Giving Day, is a day when nonprofits with an approved DonorBridge profile are eligible to receive matching funds when donations are made online through DonorBridge.com.

Mark your calendars for the North Texas Giving Day, which will be held from 7 a.m. to midnight on September 19, 2013.

DonorBridge is run by Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), with the support of the Center for Nonprofit Management.