Engagement & Learning


Since its founding in 1964 by Professor James Gunnerson, the Anthropology Museum at NIU has provided dynamic, engaged learning opportunities for NIU students. Students help to curate exhibitions, conduct object research and preservation, as well as develop public programs. The museum houses over 20,000 objects comprised mostly of ethnographic material with some archaeological material. This foundation has made it possible for the museum to achieve its most recent and proudest accomplishments, from award-winning exhibits to major federal grants.

After 50 years, the museum is proud to announce a name change in honor of NIU alumnus James Pick and his wife Rosalyn Laudati who have established an endowment for the museum.  This generous gift is already transforming the museum into the cultural heart of the communiversity, providing  dynamic opportunities for people of all ages to marvel at the world’s cultural diversity, revel in the history of human innovation, and become more active citizens in our global community. 

The museum specializes in cultures of Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and the Southwest and Plains Native Americans.  In addition, the museum holds smaller collections from Africa, modern Greece, Mesoamerica, and South America.  The museum is particularly proud of the Native American basket collection, featuring over 200 specimens, as well as the Indonesian textile collection, which contains over 600 pieces.  In addition, the museum also houses about 100 different Indonesian shadow puppets, a fine collection of Thai khon masks, and important collections of Hmong and Karen artifacts. 

The department enjoys close ties to many local museums that provide graduate and undergraduate students internship opportunities and a behind the scenes work. Professor Daniel Gebo is also a research associate with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. This connection facilitates the ability of NIU students to use the extensive collections housed in the Field Museum's Anthropology Department, Division of Mammals, and other branches. During the past five years, several students also have held internships or temporary jobs at the Field Museum.

All of these resources are available to departmental students and form the basis for the Interdisciplinary Certificate of Graduate Study in Museum Studies.