Museum Studies

MSC01 1050
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Hibben Center
Rm 320

Phone: (505) 277-0786

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Student Projects

Current Students:

Katie Conley (she/her), MSST Graduate Student 

Get to know Katie:

My thesis asks the question: is digitization enough? By using the J.B. Jackson pictorial collection at the Center for Southwest Research, which I have digitizing over the last few years as a case study, I am exploring the effects of digitization on the reach and impact of a digitized photographic collection at a university archive. The goal of my study is to walk away with not only user access data on the J.B. Jackson collection and an analysis of what it can tell us, but also recommendations for the archive to increase engagement with digitized photographic collections like this one in the future.

Recent Graduatess:

Petra Brown (she/her), MSST Graduate Student 


Get to know Petra: 

My graduate project is based in the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology's Maya textile collection. I am creating a cataloging guide on how to read and analyze a huipil (traditional woven shirt). To create this, I have been inventorying, researching, re-housing, and re-cataloging the textiles for two years. This cataloging guide includes a glossary of symbols, terms, and techniques as well as explanations of what to look for, how to identify elements within a huipil, and how to interpret their significance. We hope to share the document with other institutions with huipil collections to build community and share knowledge to perpetuate a greater understanding of Maya textiles and collections record consistency. The long-term goal is to create a platform for the textiles to be more accessible to the public and for the Maya weaving community. The cataloging guide is part of a larger collaborative effort to produce a workbook and user-friendly database accessible to Maya community members and weavers to comment on and revise when needed. Ultimately, we hope to share authority and invite community input and engagement!

Molly Rannebarger, MSST Graduate Student and Hibben Fellow


Get to know Molly:

My interests lie in natural history collections, specifically fluid-preserved collections. The stewardship of wet collections is particularly important to me because of the challenges such collections face in a world where museum funding is increasingly scarce. I am dedicated to pursuing a future career in improving conditions for fluid-preserved collections in small, underfunded natural history museums. I'm about to begin my Master’s project, which will be focused on stewardship of the fluid collections at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Additionally, my Hibben Fellowship has allowed me to work at the Museum of Southwestern Biology for the past year in the herpetology collection, where I have been expanding my knowledge of the herpetofauna of the Southwest, specimen preparation, and large-scale data management. My employment at MSB has undoubtedly enriched my understanding of the museum world and provided me with invaluable experience for my future career goals in natural history collection management.

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Danielle Griego, MSST Graduate Student


Get to know Danielle: 

Danielle Griego is a current graduate student working toward her MA in the Museum Studies program. Her Masters project included an outdoor exhibition and scavenger hunt.

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence was an outdoor exhibit and scavenger hunt celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees women in the United States the right to vote. This exhibit shared important and accurate voting information provided by the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office. These two resources provided a historical framework on voting rights, the importance of voting, and how to exercise the right to vote today. The exhibition team also invited the public to participate in a regional scavenger hunt featuring a wide variety of challenges. 

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.

The exhibit was brought to the Albuquerque metro area by Bernalillo Community Museum and Gutiérrez Hubbell House History & Cultural Center, a Bernalillo County Open Space.

The exhibition ran from August 26, 2020 to November 14, 2020. 

Even though the exhibition is no longer out in the community, people interested in learning more about the exhibition are invited to visit the Votes For Women social media pages:



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Caitlin Everhart, MSST Graduate Student and AmeriCorps VISTA


Get to know Caitlin:

Caitlin began working with Explora as an AmeriCorps VISTA in May, and was heavily involved in planning the 2020 NM Science Fiesta. Science Fiesta had three major goals:

  • To celebrate the importance of science, technology, engineering, math, and art (STEAM). 
  • To inspire interest in learning about STEAM and its impact on our everyday lives, our community, and our future.
  • To increase access to STEAM by engaging our community in fun, meaningful activities and interactions with STEAM professionals.

The 2020 NM Science Fiesta took place September 18-26, and featured more than 75 presentations and activities from over 50 scientists and other STEAM professionals. The Fiesta consisted of three types of events: Science Destinations, which were videos and activities that could be accessed at any point throughout the week and required no facilitation; Science in the Community, which were live presentations, tours, and activities delivered via Zoom, Google Meets, and other similar platforms; and Science Fiesta Expo, the culminating event which offered live demonstrations, activities, and music delivered straight from Explora's campus. Caitlin was heavily involved with planning and coordinating the Science Destinations and Science Fiesta Expo, and took point on maintaining the Science Fiesta YouTube page. She also completed a lot of design work for ths project. Explora has never done a fully virtual science festival, and Caitlin learned a lot from this experience.


Don Baker, MSST Graduate Student and Heritage Park Restoration Projects Coordinator at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History



Get to know Don: 

Don started a 21-year career in the US Air Force as an aircraft maintenance and avionics repair technician.  He completed his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas and M.S. in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  He spent the second half of his career as an engineer and project manager in research and development and systems improvements.  During his follow-on career with Intel Corporation, where he worked in factory capacity and layout planning, Don finished his M.B.A. in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix and obtained his Project Management professional certification.  A transition program sponsored by Intel, allowed him to explore the non-profit sector.  That opportunity led him to the Museum Studies program at UNM after interning at the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs.

Not your typical museum restoration work…

As museum professionals, we act as stewards, providing the best care that we can for the objects we’re responsible for.  This applies doubly to museums with military objects as they typically do not own the aircraft and vehicles on display.  They are on renewable loan from each of the owning branch of service: Army, Air Force, Navy, etc. as they are provided through their applicable heritage programs.  As such, all major work must be approved in advance.

Our restorations are considered ‘cosmetic restorations’.  The aircraft, missiles, and vehicles have been demilitarized and any useable components removed for re-use or salvage according to the owning service’s directives, so they are not completely restored.  My goal is to make each of the exhibit pieces look like they could drive or fly off on a moment’s notice.  Although the end result appears the same, each restoration project presents its own unique challenges.  The teams of volunteers and myself need to develop and learn new skills during each project to solve those challenges.


A typical work day in the restoration world

Don is a recent graduate of the Museum Studies M.A. Program.  In addition to his MSST courses, he completed courses in non-profit management and accounting.  He was an intern at the ‘Nuclear Museum’ during his two-year program and the museum sponsored his graduate project.   “The UNM Program has opened up a whole new set of opportunities and experiences for me.  I hope to bring all the skills I’ve acquired in business planning, management, and technology to the museum field.”  Don participated in a panel discussion at the 2019 Mountain-Plains Museum Association regional conference and is scheduled to present again at the 2020 conference.

Don addressing visitors and distinguished guests during the re-dedication of his restored exhibit


Zonnie Gorman, History/Museum Studies & Hibbens Fellow



Get to know Zonnie:

"As the daughter of one of the original Navajo Code Talkers and a long-time public historian on the topic, I returned to graduate school to pursue a PhD in History. With a specific interest in Navajo masculinity and identity in the mid-twentieth century, my dissertation will draw from an emerging source of personal archival collections of Navajo Code Talkers. While also pursuing a Graduate Minor in Museum Studies, the HibbenFellowship is offering me the opportunity to both prepare two of these Code Talker collections for donation to the Center for Southwest Research and to assist in their collation.

My pursuit of a degree in Museum Studies also has helped to expand my professional museum work. I am currently working on two museum projects: the National Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA, where I am their Special Materials Expert assisting in the expansion of their WWII Navajo Code Talker display and, the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, AZ, where I am currently designing an exhibit of Kenji Kawano’s photographic work on the Navajo Code Talkers."


Mr. William Riding In (Pawnee Nation, OK and Santa Ana Pueblo) (Continuing 2nd year graduate student in the MMS program)


Get to know William Riding In: 

Mr. Riding In expects to graduate in December 2020. Mr. Riding In completed his BA in 2008 with a degree in Indigenous and American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. He pursued graduate studies in public health at the University of Oklahoma but found his true interest in museums while working for the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2015, he accepted a position as a Visitor Services Representative, and while there he shadowed curators to learn about exhibit design, curation, and proper methods for handling cultural items. That experience gave him inspiration to become a museum curator, building on his interest in contemporary Native art and passion for telling stories of Indigenous peoples and their experience in historical and contemporary settings. Mr. Riding In is completing his Hibben Fellowship with Maxwell working with Ethnology collections and the education department. In addition William works as a contractor at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, NM.


Jennifer Eggleston, MSST Graduate Student and Conservation Technician for the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections.

“A box is just not a box.  If you open one up, you will see how it is specially designed for each object.” -A quote by Jennifer E.

Jennifer Eggleston MSST Grad Student 2018

Jennifer was recently featured in the ULLS News Blog for UNM University Libraries as written buy UL&LS Administration on August 31, 2018.  Read the full story here:  Employee Spotlight: Jennifer Eggleston, Conseration Technician

Jennifer began working as a Conservation Technician in the Center in February of this year (2018).  Although she is new to this staff position, Jennifer is not new to the Center or the field of conservation and preservation.  Rather, Jennifer initially started working for the Center in early 2015 as a student employee.  Specifically, she worked as a Preservation Assistant while taking classes for her Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology, with a minor in Museum Studies.  In that role, Jennifer became familiar with archival materials and methods and the importance of handling rare and fragile items with care and detail.  One of her primary responsibilities was to make custom enclosures for collection items; this included clamshell boxes, four-flap boxes, Mylar encapsulations, and dust jackets. (See “Examples of Jennifer’s Work” below.)  In time, she began to take on additional duties, including minor repair and restoration and documenting and writing condition reports for items going out on loan.  She also received further instruction and training on proper preservation techniques and theory.

During her time with the Center, Jennifer has helped design, construct, and display items for a number of library lectures and shows, including the Willard Lecture Series’ displays, Route 66 exhibit, and the LOBOMANIA! exhibit.  While assisting with these projects, Jennifer’s responsibilities have been quite diverse.  For instance, she has conducted research, retrieved items, built stands, book cradles and back drops, as well as helping with the layout and final design of the exhibit.  Some of the items that she has worked with are uniquely shaped, and this has enabled her to apply her creativity and come up with individual solutions to displaying and preserving them.  In fact, one of the reasons she enjoys working in the Center so much is the ability to keep a sense of creativity in the work that she does.  That – along with amazing special collections, awesome co-workers, and a beautiful campus – make for an overall great working experience according to Jennifer.

Jennifer is currently a graduate student in the Museum Studies M.A. Program, and she has found that the program has been quite helpful with her work in the Center.  She has already taken a number of classes including the following:  Conservation Practice, Archival Practice, Museum Exhibit Design, and Museum Interpretation.  The knowledge and skills learned in these classes have been quite applicable to all that she does in the Center on any given day.

Examples of Jennifer’s Work

 1. William Whipple Collection

Jennifer had the opportunity to work on the William Whipple Collection, which is a collection of military journals, account ledgers, maps, correspondence, personal papers, etc. of U.S. Army Major General William Denison Whipple. 

Conservation Box

Kaylen Jones combines her love for art and wolves with her position at the Museum of Southwest Biology.

While purusuing her Masters in Museum Studies at the University of New Mexico Kaylen Jones has works as a Museum Tech at the Museum of Southwest Biology.  As the video notes, one class in Museum Practices has changed her life and career path.  Were excited to follow her educational and professional career.

Kaylen Jones MA student 2016


Kathrine Shaum is gaining hands on experience working with collections at the Maxwell Museum

Museum Studies Students and Faculty with African objectI am a graduate student at the University of New Mexico working on a master’s degree in Anthropology with an emphasis on Public Archaeology. As a Graduate Assistant (GA) in Museum Studies, I assist the Curator of Ethnology at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology with the collections. These collections are surprisingly varied, ranging from hundreds of kachina dolls, Navajo rugs, and Native American baskets to Maya textiles, contemporary Pueblo pottery, and African sculpture and metalwork.

My duties include researching the origins and artists behind recently donated objects, accessioning objects in the database and on paper, guiding visiting researchers and students, assisting with moves and inventories, and cleaning and treating objects.

Having never worked in a proper anthropology museum before, I am finding each of these new experiences valuable. After graduation, I hope to continue in anthropology and archaeology in either a museum or in the field.   


Steve Maness combines his graduate work in Latin American Studies with a Museum Studies Minor

Steve Maness is a second year student in the interdisciplinary Master of Arts program, through the Latin American & Iberian Institute where his focus is Pre-Columbian Art History and Anthropology. He has been a Graduate Assistant in Museum Studies since Spring of 2013. Steve’s program has a direct and shared interest with Dr. Traxler’s (our Director) prior accomplishments in Maya Archaeology. In addition to direct access to Dr. Traxler’s experience and attentive guidance, his Graduate Assistantship lends valuable insight and training toward his future plans to be a college instructor and work for cultural organizations. Steve is the first person in his family to attend college and therefore invests heavily in helping others toward success. He has served as Co-Chair on the Graduate Professional Student Association Grant Committee and currently represents graduate student interests on the President’s Cabinet. Because of his diverse, non-traditional background combined with his passionate investment in community enrichment, he was an American Alliance of Museums Fellow at the spring annual meeting in Seattle, Washington. In Fall 2014, he was nominated for the prestigious 2014 Sarah Belle Brown Community Service Award. Prior to pursuing a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies, Steve earned a B.A. in University Studies with an emphasis in Ancient Cultures. Steve’s interest in Museum Studies is the result of a rich background as a musician (instrumental and vocal) through work with esteemed trainers, including Kim S. Shelley (percussionist) of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and vocal coach Maralin Niska of theNew York Metropolitan Opera. He was adopted and raised on his grandparent’s farm in the township of Old Mines, Missouri. He eagerly welcomes questions or opportunities to help others in their pursuit of higher education, community service or personal development.


Maren Svare studies how visitors use interpretive materials at Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Maren Svare at Chaco Cultural Historic Park in New Mexico
Maren taking surveys at Chetro Ketl

"I am a graduate student at the University of New Mexico working on my master’s thesis in Anthropology and completing a graduate minor in Museum Studies.  Most recently, I have been doing fieldwork at Chaco Culture National Historic Park in Northwestern New Mexico.  Here, I am working on a project aimed toward understanding how visitors at Chaco utilize the interpretive materials provided by the National Park Service.  In particular, I am interested in gaining a better understanding of what visitors learn and don’t learn from the material provided.  To see Chaco from both a visitor’s and an interpreter’s point of view, I have conducted personal interviews with park rangers, volunteers and visitors.  I have also developed a comprehensive visitor’s survey which I’ve had the opportunity to administer over several weekend visits.  Once I finish my study at Chaco I intend to present my completed work to the Park Service staff and at various academic conferences.

In addition to my fieldwork, I also volunteer as a student docent at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, leading school group tours.  By combining my studies with these experiences, upon graduation I hope to work in a museum in an education capacity, creating exciting curriculum for museum visitors, specifically children."

In October 2019 she began working as Curator at the Gale Center of History and Culture in South Jordan, Utah. As the only employee she divides her attention between administration, collections care, giving tours, and developing new exhibits.