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Avery, Julie A.

Curator Emerita of Rural Life and Culture
Cultural Community and Economic Development Specialist, MSU Extension
[Former Director of Education, Visitor and Retail Services at the MSU Museum Store]

Research Interests/Experience

Arts and culture as a driver for community and economic development has been a focus of Dr. Avery's work for many years both through the Museum and MSU Extension. This has included investigating traditional craft in Michigan and creating opportunities for artisans and communities to build awareness around arts and culture to attract tourism and investment both in Michigan and Missouri. Avery continues this work with MSU Extension's Tourism and Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities teams building awareness and assisting organizations and communities to utilize, steward, and grow local resources for community vitality and success.

As Education Director she initiated an evaluation series on Museum use and partnerships and expanded education staffing and activities to produce and investigate the impact of the intersection of a triad of learning opportunities that include: exhibits, distance learning, and media resources. Avery has taught in the Museum Studies Program of the College of Arts and Letters.

Dr. Avery's history interests include American popular culture and community-based arts from the 1850s-1900s, as well as county and state fair history, and agricultural heritage issues broadly of this period. This spans investigating timber framing and traditional agricultural building techniques, domestic vernacular arts, early community cultural life, agricultural fair history, and the history of The Fair Publishing House -- an Ohio company founded in 1880.

Dr. Avery's primary museum assignment is outreach and service. She is actively engaged in contemporary community arts practice and development work focused in Michigan and the greater mid-west, especially in rural, small and remote communities. She has worked with the Reach Studio Art Center (Lansing), VSA Arts of Michigan, and is active with the Michigan Barn Preservation Network.

Selected Publications

Selected Exhibitions

  • "Preserving Michigan's Barns," a companion exhibit to the Smithsonian's BARN AGAIN! exhibit Michigan tour, 2004
  • "Uneasy Years: Michigan Jewry During Depression & War," MSU Museum, November 2002-June 2003
  • "It's FairTime!" - 3 museum exhibits exploring agricultural fairs in America: "Today's Fairs," "Fairs of Yesteryear" and "Floral Hall," MSU Museum, October 2000-June 2001
  • "America's Fair History" - traveling exhibitions series, 1996 - present
    "America's Fairs Educating Communities"
    "Livestock Heritage Serving a Nation"
    "Racing and Fair Time Entertainment"

Selected Honors

  • 2004: Michigan Humanities Council recognized the "Uneasy Years" exhibition and companion programs as 1 of 30 significant projects in MHC history, with Dr. Avery as project director.
  • 2002: American Association for State and Local History granted the FairTime Project an Award of Merit, with Dr. Avery as project director and curator.


Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Arts & Letters (American Art History, American Theatre, and Communications), Michigan State University, 1992
M.L.S., Library Science, Western Michigan University, 1972