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.

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 Value Cultural Anthropology Brings to Our Educational System

Ngbaka People educatingWhat is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humankind. Anthropologists can be found in a number of settings, such as hospitals, schools, national parks, and even studying our oceans.

The International Museum of Cultures is a cultural anthropology museum. We focus on the ways in which people live around the world. Culture involves the beliefs , attitudes, knowledge and social structure of a group of people. The study of culture can include food, clothing, language, celebrations, education, and religion.

Due to the rapid globalization and imperialism, many people whose ancestors have lived in a location for thousands of years have historically been oppressed. However, indigenous groups hold rich histories and traditions that are very interesting and diverse. Our museum’s goal is to shed light onto the many different ways that indigenous people live around the world in and effort to learn from them and positively represent them.

As our world becomes more unified Globally, it is imperative that we understand various worldviews rather than forcing our worldviews on others. Because of this global context, our goal as a museum is to foster cross-cultural interest, openness and appreciation of cultural diversity.

Understanding and appreciating indigenous cultures from around the world allow us to better appreciate the diversity within our own country, State, and community. This is exceptionally important for young people developing their world views on their way to adulthood.

What are the Benefits of Cultural Anthropology to our Educational System?

The International Museum of Cultures wants to open the mind of the student to other ways of living; to other cultures. Although the museum highlights people that live outside the United States, the diversity of the world is parallel to the diversity we see within our own country and communities. Our museum aims to teach children and adults alike that no way of living is any better than another. We want to foster an appreciation of the diversity of the world.International Museum of Cultures Music Discovery Box

Discovery Boxes

We provide educational tools, such as PBL Discovery Boxes that allow students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way. 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.

Electronic Field Trip

The Electronic Field Trip is entirely online and is designed as an interactive learning tool. The eField Trip is a series of videos delivered over the Web that provide an entertaining tour of different sections of the museum. The tour focuses on the Peoples of Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and Mexico.

Understanding diverse cultures from around the world help us all to better understand our own community. Cultural Anthropology can provide the way to that understanding.

For more information on the educational tools from the International Museum of Cultures, call (972) 572-0462.

Why is Learning Through a Museum So Effective

We are reminded in the blog post called Memory and Storytelling, of an Indian proverb from a “stories-told” book, The Right Words at the RightTime by Marlo Thomas and Friends

“TELL ME A FACT: I’LL LEARN.
TELL ME A TRUTH: I’LL BELIEVE.
BUT TELL ME A STORY: IT WILL LIVE IN MY HEART–FOREVER.”

The artifacts in a museum all hold stories. And those stories are waiting to be released in a thunder within the minds of children that observe and, when possible, touch the artifact. This experiential effect stimulates further creative thinking leading to more questions and more answers.

A great example of an artifact that tells a story is the Talking Drum. The Talking Drum, called a nkul, is a wooden slit drum that reverberates at dawn around and through the trees and houses of the Ewondo people of Mekomba, Cameroon. When we think of drums being used to communicate, we often think of the drum as a musical instrument. Many cultures throughout history also used them to convey a signal. However, some native civilizations use drums as a speech surrogate. A Speech Surrogate replicates the tone and rhythm of oral speech, taking the ability of a drum to communicate to an entirely new level. Its these types of artifacts that take children to places they never imagined. (Refer to our previous post on Talking Drums where we highlight the book, the “People of the Drum of God – Come”.)

The Museum of International Cultures can bring this experiential learning to the classroom. The Student does not even need to travel to the museum. Some examples of the ways the Museum collaborates with educators are:

Discovery Boxes

Discovery Boxes allow students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way. Discovery boxes come in 12 different themes and include a variety of genuine artifacts from the museum’s collection. Students are be 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.

Boxes include:

  • a teacher’s guide with detailed object descriptions
  • curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, fine arts, and math
  • eye-opening activities that guide your students through understanding the objects

Electronic Field Trip

The Electronic Field Trip is entirely online and is designed as an interactive learning tool.

  • A series of videos delivered over the Web that provide an entertaining tour of different sections of the museum. The tour focuses on the Peoples of Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea, Asia, and Mexico
  • Curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, and math.

For more information on the educational tools from the International Museum of Cultures, call (972) 572-0462.

A Museum that Went All Virtual

As museums consider offering a Virtual Tour of their exhibits so that they can play a larger role in education and expand their geographic reach without large capital investment, there is an example of one museum that has gone entirely virtual. That is to say that this museum does not operate in the traditional sense of having open hours for the public to enter and view their exhibits. The exhibits of this museum are accessible on the Web through Internet enabled PC and hand-held devices.

In a recent article in the Museum’s Journal Blog, Rebecca Atkinson writes about her opportunity to have a sneak preview of the new website of the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (MoDA). This museum closed its public gallery spaces in October of 2011 and relaunched as an online resource. Exhibitions continue to tour the UK; and visitors are able to request viewing the collections at MoDA’s collections center in north London by appointment.

The challenges MoDA faced, while still a museum in the traditional sense, was the problem of attracting audiences to a relatively inaccessible area on the outer edges of London. This is a challenge that is not specific to only MoDA. Many museums are not easily accessible to the greater public. So, MoDA made the decision to become a Virtual Museum.

We have posted information about the movement of Museums to the Internet providing Virtual Tours of their exhibits. We have discussed at least two reasons that we have seen as motivating museums to offer virtual means for their exhibits to be viewed. But, this is the first museum we became aware of that has gone totally virtual. If there are more stories of museums greatly increasing their utilization of the Web, please let us know by using the Comment field below.

The International Museum of Cultures in Dallas, Texas provides an Electronic Field Trip for educational institutions. You can take a look at this offering on Youtube.

Two Reasons Why Museums are Planning to Offer Virtual Tours

International Museum of Cultures walkwayThe number of museums that are implementing, or planning to implement, the ability to offer Virtual Tours is growing. “Virtual Tour” is one phrase that describes the ability to view exhibits of a museum over the Internet on WEB enabled devices, PC or hand-held. Other terms that are often used are E-Field Trips, Virtual Field Trips or Electronic Field Trips.

We have previously written on some of the reasons why museums are making their exhibits available on the Web. One reason that we have written about is that museums are playing a larger role in education.  Because the student learns in a museum environment through ‘discovery’ the learning can be deeper and more thought-provoking. So the information learned in a museum may have an exponential result because thought generated through discovery promotes more thoughts.

The greater role that museums are taking on in education comes at the same time when school budgets are being reduced. Field trips are often one of the first line-items in a classroom budget that gets eliminated. In response, museums are creating virtual tours of their exhibits. This brings the museum to the student, instead of having to transport the student to the museum.

Another reason that Virtual Tours are being developed by forward thinking museums is to extend the reach of the museum in a time when funding, either through private or public means, is diminishing. The recessionary economic climate has had a negative impact on funding for many non-profit organizations, as mentioned in our post on the “Proposed Cuts In Texas State Aid Impact Small Groups In The Arts“. A museum can use the Internet to reach a greater geographic area and a greater number of people without the investment in brick-and-mortar expansion.

The International Museum of Cultures (IMC) in Dallas Texas has developed a virtual tour of several of their exhibits. In addition, the IMC has created related curriculum for specific age groups making the integration of the Virtual Tour with the classroom program very easy for the teacher. This has allowed the IMC to reach many more young people than ever before.

We will be further exploring the effects of this business model change for museums in future Blog Posts. If you are aware of more factors that are fueling this movement of museums going onto the Web, please use the comment field below to share your thoughts and examples.

Approach to Technology in Museums as the Role in Education Increases

Rob Stein, while at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, addressed the changing conversation about museums and technology. In his post, he addresses in part;

…What is the best way to leverage electronic media and social networks to engage new museum audiences? When should we invest in a new online collection or a new website?  These questions and many more plague museum technology professionals who are struggling to justify the investments in technology and staff that leverage these tools for the best purposes of the museum.

Read more: Blow Up Your Digital Strategy: Changing the Conversation about Museums and Technology | museumsandtheweb.com 

This is especially true in the changing role of the museum in education. As we stated in an earlier blog post Museums Embrace a Greater Role in Education,  the modern museum has become more than just an informational source. The museum has now become an environment for learning. This broader scope gives the museum a role in education that has a greater impact on our society.

International Museum of Cultures Activity

Museums provide a place for the student to discover information. Learning through discovery drives creative thought and innovation. The modern museums that have embraced their expanded role in education have become more than a didactic source.

We agree with Rob Stein’s statement in his conclusion, “A consistent focus on the mission of the museum, and the tools required to achieve that mission, is critical to see the impact we all desire.”.

As the museum strives to share the knowledge that their exhibits hold, technology supporting new media needs to be embraced. Museum leadership must partner with the Information Technology staff to achieve these strategic goals. Modern technologies must be used to get the information out to the student, even if the students cannot leave their classroom.