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Dignity: Tribes in Transition

On a sunny afternoon at Morrill Hall, Katelyn Trammell, an anthropologist working in the University of Nebraska State Museum’s Research Collections, gently opens a box. Inside the box is a child’s hat. The hat is not a present, even though it’s wrapped carefully in tissue paper. It is something special though. It’s a montera, a traditional hat worn by Quechua (pronounced Kay’ chwa) women and girls from the Andes Mountains in Peru. Katelyn takes the montera out of the box and sets it inside a glass display case. Close to the case there is a framed photograph of a young girl. She is also wearing a special hat. Both the photograph and the montera are part of a new exhibition at Morrill Hall called DIGNITY: Tribes in Transition. It will open on June 10.

The exhibition is made up of photos of Indigenous Peoples taken by internationally-recognized photographer Dana Gluckstein. Some photographs have adults in them; some photos are of children. Every photo features Indigenous Peoples from across the globe. The exhibition also has displays of artifacts from the museum’s Anthropology Collection. Artifacts are items like clothes, jewelry, dishes, tools, or toys. They are important because they help people know and understand what life is like for people in other parts of the world. 

The montera Katelyn placed in the exhibition is part of the museum’s Anthropology Collection, but it originally came from Cuzco, Peru. Do you have a favorite hat you wear to school? What does it look like? Do your friends have hats? What do they look like? Even though your hats may look different, they all help cover your heads. 

The museum has more than 40,000 anthropology artifacts from all over the world. Most of them have never been displayed in a museum before. That’s why it’s exciting that some will be part of the new exhibit and will help museum visitors connect with world cultures, different from their own.

“We hope families will be curious to learn about the different cultures represented in the exhibit by photos and everyday items like the montera,” said Susan Weller, the museum’s director. “Understanding that others have similar - yet unique - cultures helps us understand that we are one large, interrelated and diverse human family.”

DIGNITY will be open at Morrill Hall until August 7, 2022. Access to the exhibit is included with museum admission. 

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