Amy Ciminnisi discovers museum studies

Amy Ciminnisi is a first year Distinguished Scholar student in the University Studies program, leaning toward an Anthropology major with a Museum Studies minor.  She always had a propensity towards museums, specifically natural history museums, and admits to being the one person who, “actually reads every single small plaque and description” when visiting an exhibit.

When Amy officially declared her minor, she met with Museum Studies Program Coordinator Meg Hutchins and learned of MSST 464, a three credit research internship, and recently, Amy got involved with the historical research at the 1738 Amstel House, which solidified her choice of minor (and potential major). Although she is a first year student, Amy hopes to make an impact and continue her research throughout her four years at UD.

The Amstel House museum

The Amstel House that Amy is working to improve was built facing the courthouse in 1738 and was the largest residential building in New Castle which housed several wealthy and prominent Delaware figures. Although the House is almost fully restored and has been functioning as a museum since it got the funds in 1929, there are still various maintenance and improvement projects which the MSST 464 students are working on. Currently there are two groups, each led by a graduate student, and Amy is part of one which works on restoring a palette bed in one of the Amstel House’s bedrooms.

On top of her intellectual interests and involvement with research, Amy is also a member of the UD swing dance club. The club has about 30 consistent members with Friday socials and Wednesday and Sunday workshops. Members of the club go to events, host social dances, and attend a competition or two, one of which was the Collegiate Lindy Hop Championship in D.C., which Amy attended this semester.

Amy is passionate about various topics regarding social justice, and often speaks on GRASP panels regarding gender roles and sexuality in the classroom. Her honors colloquium last semester was called “Writing for Social Justice,” and allowed her to do campus climate research on how international and domestic students interact with each other. She wrote assessment reports, photographed people, and presented at a mini symposium. Her research found that international students are not well integrated into the student population, so she proposed several improvements to an already existing domestic and international student pairing program, including increased peer mentorship, better advertisement of events, and utilizing the data from a survey that was sent to the international students.

Amy, like many UDHP students, is very involved in intellectual, social, and philanthropic aspects of student life at UD. Although she was unsure of what to major in right away, her historical research opportunity has solidified her future choice of Anthropology. “That’s what’s great about the University Studies program here at UD”, Amy said, “It allows you to explore your diverse interests before settling on just one.”

Article by Katie Kornienko ’20