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What to do with an AmStud major: start your own museum

A friend used to poke fun at what she considered our children’s impractical choices of college majors by saying that my daughter was going to open a linguistics store right next her her son’s history store.

Opening in New Haven this Friday: Laurelin Kruse’s American Studies store, aka the Mobile Museum of American Artifacts.

As you’ve gathered from the name, it’s not a store but a mobile museum, housed in a small blue-and-white trailer. The point is that Kruse, a 2012 Yale College graduate, is meeting the skeptical question of elders everywhere—“what do you do with that major?”—with an answer both fanciful and serious.

MMoAA is “a traveling museum of everyday objects and their stories,” collected from everyday people on “downtown streets, farmer’s markets, train stations, museums and grocery store parking lots,” the project’s website says. In recent weeks it has been in New Haven, preparing for its formal launch—an exhibit at the downtown Artspace community gallery, which begins July 25 and runs until mid-September.

Among the objects that New Haveners have donated so far: a hand-carved walking stick, complete with a sharp point to fend off aggressive dogs, and the “guts” of old parking meters, the New Haven Independent reports.

Kruse—who last year worked as director of the Museum of Nowhere in rural Colorado, where she’s from—started thinking about how objects are valued while doing work in archives and rare book collections at Yale, the Independent says. She decided to create “a way of showcasing everyday American life.”

From New Haven, the mobile museum will head west, to Colorado and beyond, collecting artifacts along the way.

But how practical is it, you ask. Who pays for the gas? How do you make a living with an American Studies store?

Good thing you asked: Kruse is soliciting donations to keep the museum mobile.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Laurelin Kruse, American Studies, Mobile Museum of American Artifacts

1 comment

  • Joseph McCabe
    Joseph McCabe, 11:21pm July 25 2014 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    People who choose that American Studies Major just might be a pretty shrewd bunch !! In my time,it was a classic "gut". Little work and easy work.Maybe these folks were onto something,however.I know a Yale Am.Studies major who has been Harvard's top guy in Psychiatry for years.I know another Yale Am.Studies major who is a top divorce lawyer and the lowest form of humanity.I know another Yale Am.Studies major who has had a great career in TV as writer,director and producer of major series.He's a fabulous guy.Guy # 1 was smart enough to concentrate on his pre-med courses.Guy # 2 is an idiot who HAD to go that route.Guy # 3 found that major very useful for his later career.

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