Local, national relationships determine exhibits at Mayborn Museum

The Mayborn Museum consists of a wide range of exhibits to appeal to different generations. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

The Mayborn Museum is currently 5,500 square feet full of historic exhibits that feature local and national knowledge. There is even an exhibit on Baylor’s history, entitled Founding to Future: Bright Lights of Baylor University and containing artifacts and an intimate understanding from Baylor’s beginnings to today. This exhibit is one example of factors that determine which exhibits will be featured.

Mayborn Museum exhibits — both permanent and special — are determined by the museum’s audience, curator relationships, current events and already-existing exhibits.

Dr. Trey Crumpton, the museum’s exhibits development manager, said the museum is interested in anyone’s ideas on how they could make changes to the exhibits. Crumpton oversees decisions regarding the permanent exhibits.

“We want a broad range of ideas from a broad range of people,” Crumpton said. “We want to appeal to college students and to our primary demographic: young families.”

Winter Rusiloski, museum visitor and assistant professor of art painting in the Department of Art and Art History, said her children attended the museum regularly before COVID-19.

“We generally were coming weekly,” Rusiloski said.

Rebecca Tucker-Nall, assistant director of exhibits, communication and visitor services, said that exhibits are chosen with a variety of audiences in mind.

“We also want to be a space for everyone,” Tucker-Nall said. “We’ll try to vary exhibits.”

Tucker-Nall said that she oversees the traveling exhibit program, which determines the rotating special exhibits the Mayborn Museum offers. She has been overseeing the program the past 12 years, with larger exhibits rotating twice a year. Special exhibits have been rented by traveling exhibit curators, other museums and companies that specialize in the traveling exhibit field.

Tucker-Nall also said special exhibitions have been largely determined by previous positive relationships with other exhibit curators. This would be defined as curators who are easy to work with who provide high quality exhibits. She said one positive relationship is with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis — specifically with a previous exhibit, entitled Bones: An Exhibit Inside You.

“Whenever we know we’re looking for something new, we might reach out to them first,” Tucker-Nall said. “We know these museums or institutions have done a great job.”

Already-existing exhibits can even determine new features. Tucker-Nall said there is a lot of collaboration between special and permanent exhibits. A recent example is with the Backyard Ecology exhibit and The Fragile Bee exhibit. The special Fragile Bee exhibit — a photography exhibition surrounding bees and flora — was chosen because it specifically connected with the permanent Backyard Ecology exhibit, which was one of Mayborn Museums most recent projects from 2019.

Tucker-Nall said that the museum also tries to make connections surrounding current events. One example was an exhibit entitled Be the Astronaut in 2019, meant to educate students on space and what it takes to be an astronaut. This exhibit coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

An upcoming special exhibit at the museum will surround the children’s show Dinosaur Train, and it will open in late January.

“There’s a lot of planning and dialogue that goes into what the community needs our museum to be,” Crumpton said. “The community is broadly defined as people who live in the region, people who live in Waco, Baylor constituents, outside researchers and visitors from out of town, out of the state and country.”