Drawing from his seven years of excavations in the Miami Circle as the Florida State Archaeologist, Ryan Wheeler has brought his field experience to Andover as the eighth Director of the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology.
In his new position, Wheeler will oversee Andover’s artifact collection, manage the museum’s budget and act as the lead educator in the museum. Following in the footsteps of Malinda Blustain, former Director of the Peabody, he plans to integrate the museum further into classroom experiences at Andover.
“[Wheeler] impressed us in terms of his genuine curiosity and interest about our collections, his ability to bring archaeological stories to life in his presentations to us,” said John Rogers, Dean of Studies, who headed the search committee that selected Wheeler from 70 applicants.
In addition to Rogers,The search committee consisted of Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, Marcelle Doheny, Instructor in History, Jerry Hagler, Instructor and Chair in Biology, and Linda Cordell and Jim Richardson, two local archaeologists from outside the Andover community.
“We looked for somebody who could really be a lead educator and who understood the significance of the collection and the importance of the collection for teaching [at Andover] and in the outside archaeological community,” said Rogers.
Wheeler said that he eagerly anticipates working with the students because it offers him a new challenge after his previous fieldwork in Florida.
“I’d like to develop some classroom modules that are fun and exciting and challenging. We [at the museum] are talking with faculty about ways to include an archaeology course,” he said.
Wheeler wants to reorganize the collections to appeal more to Andover students as well, he added.
Prior to his acceptance of the position, Wheeler was the Florida State Archaeologist at the Bureau of Archaeological Research, an agency that oversees the state’s archaeological resources, instruction for park rangers and state personnel and an artifact collection of comparable to size to that at the Peabody Museum.
Wheeler’s interest in archaeology began with a childhood fascination with American Indians as a Boy Scout.
“In college I realized that I could combine the interests that I had in biology and natural history and animals with an interest in American Indians by studying anthropology and archaeology,” said Wheeler.
After college, Wheeler worked in the field before moving into a management position. In his most memorable excavation, during a drought 12 years ago, Wheeler discovered hundreds of canoes over 4000 years old .
Currently, Wheeler lives in Medford, MA, with his wife and one-year-old son. His wife teaches Theatre History at Tufts University.