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Object Studies

The museum houses three distinct collections: Archaeology and Paleoethnobotany, Arts and Culture, and Malacology. Only a small percentage of these collections are in the galleries on view at any time. To make the rest of our holdings accessible, we can work with you to pull objects from a collection for a class or for research.

Pulling objects from a collection takes time, so requests should be scheduled at least four weeks in advance. Participating instructors or faculty members are required to review the Object Study Request (OSR) Guidelines. Contact the curator of academic programs, Katy Malone ( or 865-974-2416), to start discussing your ideas and teaching goals.

Plan for your Course

Print OSR Guidelines

What do faculty members say about teaching with objects?

Students studying an object

“Teaching with museum objects is so rewarding for me because they are not just exemplars, but rather they are doorways into the past. They provoke even more questions by their very existence. Students RESPOND deeply and with interest to the presence of a trace of the past . . . who would produce a medal actually celebrating the deadly 1915 torpedoing of the cruise liner Lusitania, sunk by German submarines? What does that tell us about modern warfare and propaganda? How does a French metal relief from the interwar period showing a classical allegorical figure symbolizing victory illustrate hopes for peace, soon to be dashed? What does a gas mask tell us about the destructive potential of modern industrial warfare? Even further, how did these objects even get here? How did McClung Museum end up with these marvelous and rich collections speaking to wider world history? The very act of collecting and careful museum work then becomes part of the larger story!”—Vejas Liulevicius, History, Course: Europe in the Age of Total War, 1900–2000 (HIST 332)