JoAnn L. Miller Exemplary Community Partner Award: Indiana Medical History Museum

The Indiana Medical History Museum is this year’s recipient of Purdue University’s JoAnn L. Miller Exemplary Community Partner Award.

The JoAnn L. Miller Exemplary Community Partner Award recognizes local nonprofits, schools, or government units that contribute to the educational growth of Purdue students by providing volunteer and service-learning opportunities. 

This year’s recipient, the Indiana Medical History Museum, is located on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital. The building reopened as a museum in 1969 and is now the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. Today, visitors can explore the teaching amphitheater; laboratories for bacteriology, clinical chemistry, histology, and photography; the library, reception room, and records room; and the autopsy room and anatomical museum, which houses preserved specimens – brains, primarily – organized by pathology.

Purdue & museum partners shared their engaged scholarship with professionals and academics at a national conference this year.

Through a service-learning collaboration with Purdue, the museum has provided Boilermakers a “living laboratory” in which to apply concepts learned in the classroom to a real-world situation, under faculty guidance. The students conducted air monitoring, surface wipe sampling, and x-ray fluorescence to identify hazardous conditions in the museum. As part of a graduate-level safety management course, Purdue students were given the opportunity to conduct a live safety training session at the museum. The students were able to perform a complete evaluation of the building and apply the hazard identification skills learned in the classroom to a variety of settings.

Purdue students also conducted a review of the museum safety policies and developed a new safety manual for the museum. The safety manual provides instructions regarding safe work practices and what to do in the event of an emergency. As a small non-profit organization, the museum does not have the resources to obtain this type of assistance from outside consultants, so the work performed by Purdue students will help the museum reduce the risk of accidents and injury for both museum workers and visitors.

Nominator Mark Wilson, Clinical Assistant Professor in Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, applauded the museum and director Sarah Halter for their collaborative work with undergraduates.

“One of the things that has been so wonderful about this project is that it is a true, collaborative partnership,” said Halter, “where each of our areas of expertise are equally valuable and everyone contributes equally, learns from each other, and feels their role is meaningful.”

Learn more about the JoAnn L. Miller Exemplary Community Partner Award and past recipients:

Learn more about the Indiana Medical History Museum:

Source: Office of Engagement Intern Emily Bergman