Master of Public Administration
Department or Program
Huffman, Lorilee C.
Curation is the long-term care and management of collections, which is essential to preserve objects, artifacts, and records for future generations. Yet, in the past, there had often been little concern given to the curation of archaeological collections, especially in higher education archaeology programs in the United States. This attitude began to change in the 1990s, when the federal government passed two critical laws, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation act (known as NAGPRA) and the Curation of Federally-Owned and Administered Archeological Collections (36 CFR 79). Despite some positive changes over the past two decades, research suggests that archaeological collections curation remains undervalued.
This paper examines 21st century attitudes surrounding curation and the prevalence of long-term collections management in higher education archaeology programs. The assessment of over 40 college archaeology textbooks as well as a survey sent to professors in the top five archaeology programs by rank and enrollment confirm that curation concerns are still lacking. This preliminary study suggests that archaeology programs need to better integrate curation-focused courses into their curricula and demand that curation topic be discussed in archaeology textbooks to better train and educate students (i.e., the future archaeologists) about the proper care and management of archaeological collections.