The Center for Big Bend Studies and Midland’s Museum of the Southwest have announced a partnership through a permanent loan of the Bissell Archaeological Collection.
The museum became the steward of the collection in 1984 through a gift from Margaret Bissell and her late husband, Col. C.E. “Bud” Bissell, who spent years constructing this significant compilation of artifacts found in the Permian Basin. Bissell, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force, was an amateur archeologist stationed at Midland Air Base during World War II.
Lori Wesley, the executive director for the Museum of the Southwest, was pleased to offer this opportunity. “A life’s work now has a new home,” she said. “The artifact collection belonging to the Bissells will once again be the centerpiece of learning and experiencing another way of life. We’re delighted to see this amazing collection used for education and enjoyment.”
Students and researchers at Sul Ross State University will have a chance to study and handle the artifacts found across Texas. This extensive collection will give students essential hands-on experience in archaeological basics such as artifact identification, collection management and analytical techniques, said Dr. Bryon Schroeder, the director of CBBS.
“The collection is well-cataloged, and most artifacts have locational data. This information will allow us to study past human behavior on the landscape and work with researchers and private firms across Texas to integrate these unreported materials into ongoing investigations,” said Schroeder.
“Receiving a collection like this, with such a wide range of artifacts and significant cultural periods, will expose students to the diversity of stone tools that are an essential part of the cultural material left by past peoples,” he said. “It allows us to provide hands on experience with tools that span over 13,000 years of human occupation across Texas. Allowing students to physically touch these materials, develop an interest and research questions is a rare opportunity.”
The Center for Big Bend Studies is committed to the recovery, protection, and sharing of this region’s rich cultural legacy through dynamic programs of research, education, public outreach and publication.