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New archaeology labs, mural focus of open house

by Deanne Puca

Sept. 30, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMU's new archaeology labs.
WMU's new archaeology labs
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's new archaeology labs and an anthropology mural will be on display at an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, with a free public reception to celebrate the new space in Room 1060 of Moore Hall.

The new labs are in the space that formerly housed the Writing Center, which moved to Ellsworth Hall. There are three lab rooms--one to be dedicated to the Fort St. Joseph archaeological project, directed by Dr. Michael Nassaney, professor of anthropology; one for the Farmstead Archaeology project in the Finger Lakes National Forest in New York, directed by Dr. LouAnn Wurst, chair of the Department of Anthropology; and the last to be used as a "wet lab" to process artifacts recovered through other local projects by faculty and students.

There are currently up to a dozen students working on research projects who will use the labs, which were designed by WMU interior designer Sheri Harper, Facilities Management-Projects and Construction.

Photo of WMU's new archaeology mural.
Mural by artist and WMU alumnus Conrad Kaufman
Also featured will be a mural completed by artist Conrad Kaufman, a WMU alumnus who has done other artwork across campus, including murals in the third-floor suite of Wood Hall that is occupied by the Environmental Studies Program, in the Hoekje-Bigelow dining hall and in the Meditation Room of the Health and Human Services Building.

Kaufman murals also can be found throughout the local area and elsewhere in Michigan on the walls of public places and private businesses, plus more than 100 residential buildings. He owns and operates Fence Rows studio in Galesburg, Mich., which serves as his painting studio and a base for conducting art classes in pottery, painting and woodworking.

He earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Western Michigan University in 1986 and became a full-time artist in 1995. Now a widely admired painter of landscapes and murals, he spent eight weeks on campus in 2009-10 as a visiting artist in residence.

Kaufman has more than a student link to WMU. His father, Maynard, taught comparative religion and environmental studies at the University from 1963 to 1987. The elder Kaufman also co-founded WMU's Environmental Studies Program in 1972 and served as its first director.

Photo of WMU's new archaeology labs.
Floor of new archaeology space mimics dried earth.
In addition to the mural in the hallway, the floor of the new anthropology space was renovated to incorporate an image of dried earth to cover the concrete floor.

For more information about the event and the labs, contact Dr. LouAnn Wurst at or (269) 387-2753.