Utah State University’s Museum of Anthropology will use $74,464 in grant funding obtained from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) in August to sustain ongoing care for the Keller Collection, an archaeological collection established by founding director and former anthropologist faculty member Gordon Keller.
The DOI “Save America’s Treasures” program supports museum collection inventory, preservation and increased accessibility measures. This year the program supported 42 preservation and conservation projects in 26 states, including the grant received by USU. The Museum of Anthropology will hire and train USU students in preservation and collections management practices as well as update the storage facilities for the Keller Collection.
“We are thrilled to be recognized with the “Save America’s Treasures” award by the National Park Service and the Department of Interior,” said Executive Director Molly Boeka Cannon. “This award provides the needed funds to adequately care for the Keller Collection, a collection that includes perishable items like sandals, baskets and cordage.”
The Keller Collection includes artifacts recovered during Keller’s stabilization work on early Pueblo sites in San Juan County, Utah, with the Bureau of Land Management from 1964-66. Much of the archival documentation has been disassociated with the museum’s collection of artifacts. Cannon said the grant “will provide us the opportunity to reunite these sources of information, providing the missing context for many of the artifacts in the museum’s care.” Once the collection is reunited with archival documents, Cannon and her staff can work with tribal representatives and other stakeholders to develop protocols for the long-term care and accessibility of the collection.
Keller received his doctorate degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1961. He joined the Sociology Department at USU in 1962, where he served as the sole anthropologist for many years. Keller first arranged exhibit displays of archaeological materials he recovered from his work in the Great Basin, American Southwest, Mesoaerica and Peru in the early 1960s in the basement of Old Main. He worked diligently to secure space and positions for an anthropology program that today includes 10 faculty members, three professor Emeriti, and numerous undergraduate and graduate alumni.