In the age of the Internet when almost any image can be found in a matter of seconds, what if you had to rely on someone else to tell you what an interesting artifact sitting in front of you looked like? East Carolina University alumna Jessie Rassau (Class of 2015) has been working to break down the conventional thinking on who museums serve in her work as a graduate student in Florida State University’s Masters in Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies program.
Blending a few of her passions, in the spring of 2017 Rassau created an activity day for visually-impaired children in Tallahassee, Florida, centered around the artifacts discovered in the Etruscan archeological site of Cetamura in Italy’s Chianti district. Rassau’s mentor at FSU, Dr. Nancy de Grummond, has served as the director of excavations at Cetamura for around 30 years and has recently researched ways to bring archeology to the visually impaired.
The development of the visually impaired activity day began when Rassau traveled to Cetamura to assist de Grummond by documenting around 300 artifacts from the site and arranging them for “Wells of Wonder: New Discoveries at Cetamura del Chianti,” a new exhibit that opened at the National Archaeological Museum in Florence, Italy, on June 9, 2017.
Rassau and de Grummond wanted to bring the story of Cetamura back to the United States for the “Lighting the Way to Archaeology” outreach event this spring at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. However, because the artifacts were discovered in Italy none of the pieces could be removed from the county. To solve that issue, they used 3D printing to make models of a collection of the artifacts that were shipped back to FSU to be put on display. Along with those recreated artifacts, Rassau created a collection of hands-on activities to further stimulate the children’s interest in the subject.