About the Museum

A legacy at Utah State University



Follow Champ Drive around Old Main and into the Aggie Parking Terrace or use the FREE parking lot south of Old Main on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays.

General Policies

Not touching or leaning on the exhibit cases.
Not running, screaming, or horseplaying in the museum.

Photography, Filming, and Sketching

Individuals and classes are welcome to photograph, sketch, or film objects on display under the following conditions:

No flash photography (extreme amounts of light is very damaging to artifacts, especially baskets).
No tripods or large camera bags
No photography is allowed in rooms other than the museum.

No professional photography
 or filming without permission of the director (435-797-7545) 

Museum History

The Utah State University Museum of Anthropology traces its origins to the early 1960s, when a professor in the anthropology department decided to show some of his artifacts in the basement of the historic Old Main building. Since then, the museum has enjoyed steady growth, and now employs a variety of full time staff, volunteers, and interns. The museum is supported entirely by generous donations and grants from local individuals and organizations, which have recently made possible the museum’s Bilingual Program, Families 1st Saturdays, and our traveling Teaching Trunks.

Dr. Gordon Keller, USU's first anthropology professor, informally founded the Museum of Anthropology in 1962 when he began exhibiting archaeological collections from the Southwest, Mesoamerica, and Peru in display cases housed in the basement of the historic Old Main building. In 1981, Dr. Carol Loveland assumed the role of museum director and over the next seven years, she doubled the number of exhibits, began systematically cataloging the museum's collections and worked to involve USU undergraduate students in all facets of museum work.

The museum formally opened to the public in January 1984 and in 1992, moved to its present location in the south turret of Old Main. Renovations in the mid-1990s yielded a larger exhibit gallery, a small curation room, protective exhibit lighting and humidity control to promote better long-term care of museum objects. The museum closed for renovations in 1995 - 1997, during which time faculty and students created 16 new exhibits that were unveiled at the museum's re-opening in 1997. Since then, all exhibits have been conceived and built by USU students. In 1998, after the renovations had been completed, Dr. Steven Simms assumed the museum directorship and in 2000, Dr. David Lancy took over the position. Neither, however, enjoyed a formal role allocation for their time. Nevertheless, Drs. Simms, Lancy, and other members of the anthropology faculty continued Dr. Loveland's commitment to a student-focused museum mission that pervaded every facet of museum work.

In 2002, former Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Bonnie Pitblado, assumed the museum directorship to build on the accomplishments of her colleagues and predecessors and developed a number of academic and public programs, followed shortly thereafter by Dr. Patricia Lambert. Today, the museum is overseen by Executive Director Dr. Molly Boeka Cannon along with assistance from numerous USU students. We continue to offer public programs through the Family 1st Saturdays as well as academic opportunities through the Museum Studies Certificate and docent training at the museum.

Museum Timeline

  • 1963: Gordon Keller, professor and archaeologist, arranged the first displays in the basement hallway of Old Main with objects from excavations in the Great Basin and Southwest.
  • 1984: The museum officially opened in the anthropology office in the basement of Old Main, under the direction of Professor Carol Loveland.
  • 1992: The museum moved to present location, in the south turret of Old Main.
  • 1995; 1997: The museum closed for renovation, the last part of a three phase renovation of the historic building.
  • April, 1997: Rededication of Old Main and opening of the Museum of Anthropology with 16 newly installed exhibits, all of which were researched, designed, and constructed by 50 undergraduate students and the anthropology faculty.
  • 2000: Paid internships were awarded to students to produce five new exhibits and to develop a museum website.
  • 2002: The museum's first traveling exhibit, "More than Meets the Ear: The Culture Behind the Music," was created. This exhibit visited Cache Valley middle and intermediate schools and the Salt Lake Public Libraries in 2003 and 2004.
  • 2006: The museum was awarded a Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to digitize its collections.
  • Spring 2006: Students update the museum and bring in a new fresh look.
  • 2007: The museum was awarded a Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services grant for the Saturdays at the Museum program, created to reach out to the local community about anthropology.
  • 2009: Museum opens four new exhibits: "Fibers of Inheritance" showcases Middle Eastern textiles from the Lyman and Vivian B. Willardson Collection; "Message on a Body" explores body modification practices across the globe; "Otzi, The Iceman" is a redesigned exhibit of a favorite installation; and "Anthropology, What's it to You?," is another redesigned installation to enhance the entryway of the museum space. The "Fibers of Inheritance" and "Message on a Body" exhibits are funded by a joint grant from the Utah Humanities Council and the Office of Museum Services.
  • 2010: Curator Monique Pommerleau develops the Navajo Weaving exhibit which explores the rich tradition of raising sheep and generations of weavers in the American Southwest.
  • 2011: Curator Monique Pommerleau, USU students and Molly Boeka Cannon develop exhibit exploring obsidian use in the Great Basin.
  • 2012: MOA is awarded the Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence for the "Through the Looking Glass: Obsidian, Travel & Trade in the Ancient Great Basin" exhibit.
  • 2013: Curator Elizabeth Sutton launches Family 1st Saturdays and the World Explorers Program. Student update several exhibits and create a new exhibit titled "When I Was a Child..."
  • 2014: Dr. Molly Cannon becomes Director of the Museum