“A Piece of the Past” Museum Essay Contest Essay Requirements

Submissions will be accepted from March 1-31 on the Piece of the Past Museum Essay Contest Blackboard page.


Cover Sheet

The cover sheet should include the following information:
  • Full Name
  • H#
  • Email address
  • Faculty Mentor’s Full Name
  • Museum Category you are competing in (“Southern”, “Decorative,” Dunham,” “Art,” or “Academy”)
  • Classification. Freshmen and Academy Students may enter in the Freshman category OR a museum category
  • Name of Artifact or Artwork
  • Word Count (excluding the cover sheet, title, and citations in determining word count of 1,000 to 1,250 words)
  • Title of Your Essay (centered on page and MUST match the title on the essay exactly)

First Page of the Essay

The first page of the essay should repeat the essay title but should not include any other identifying information. The text of the essay should begin  2” down the page.  Do not include your name on the first page or any subsequent page of he essay.

Electronic Submission

To submit your essay, you will automatically be enrolled in a special “ ‘A Piece of the Past’ Museum Essay Contest” course page on Blackboard. If you do not already see the course on your Blackboard page, follow these instructions to enroll:
  • Step 1: Go to “hbu.blackboard.com” and login with your HCU OneLogin information.
  • Step 2: Click on the “My Courses” tab and find the “Course Search” navigator.
  • Step 3: Type in the course “’A Piece of the Past ‘ Museum Essay Contest.”
  • Step 4: Once the course pops up, click the drop
    box next to the class name and select ‘Enroll’ (pick “Org 2” if “Org 1” also appears).
  • Step 5: Select ‘Submit.’
  • Step 6: You’re In! Once you are enrolled, select the Contest 2023 folder and submit your paper to the appropriate category folder.

References/Citation Styles

You may use MLA or APA citations styles. Whichever you choose, be sure to use it consistently throughout the essay.

The essay should include a Works Cited page or a References page, as required by the chosen style. Such a page alone, however, does not count as sufficient citation. Each piece of information in your essay must be properly sourced, either in a footnote, endnote, or parentheses following the use in the body of your essay. MLA parenthetical citation is preferred. Even if you are not using a direct quotation, paraphrased and summarized ideas must be sourced in the text and listed on the Works Cited or References page.


Essay Themes

You may choose any artifact or work of art in any of the five museums.  Excluded are explanatory displays, facsimiles and reproductions.

Southern History Museum, Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts, and Dunham Bible Museum

For these museums, your essay should combine knowledge of the artifact itself with an understanding of its broader historical context and significance.  Your ultimate aim should be to enhance the viewer’s knowledge and appreciation of the artifact.

In preparing your essay, please consider the following:

  1. The artifact as a physical object: What is your artifact made of? What is its size, shape? When was it made? For whom was it made? For what purpose was it made? Is this a unique piece or one of many? Who has owned it?
  2. The artifact in historical context: What broader historical trend does your artifact illustrate? What particular historical event has it played a role in? What prevailing cultural value does it express?
  3. The artifact as a museum piece: What impression does the artifact make upon you as a museum piece? How might that impression differ had you encountered it in its original historical setting?
*Please be sure to correctly identify which museum holds your artifact. If you are uncertain, ask the museum staff for clarification.*

Fine Arts Museum and Contemporary Art Gallery

For the art category, write on one of the works in the Fine Arts Museum or the Contemporary Art Gallery. It may be helpful to consider the following:
  • The period in which the work was created, the style, and the historical context.
  • The artist and the most likely intent of the work.
  • In what ways does this work demonstrate the properties of Beauty that come to us from Plato,  Aristotle and Aquinas:  Proportion, symmetry, integrity of design, clarity, and unity?
  • In what way does this work demonstrate Truth or Goodness?


Judging Criteria

In judging the essays, the judges will take into consideration the following:
  1. Adherence to the Submission Guidelines
  2. Quality and Use of Research
  3. Organization and Clarity
  4. Creativity and Writing Style, including Argumentation, Diction, and Evidence
  5.  Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation and Usage

The judges reserve the right to disqualify essays that do not meet the basic requirements for the contest.

Questions may be directed to Dr. Doni M. Wilson    dmwilson@hbu.edu

Printable essay guidelines PDF version and sample of page formatting will be posted soon!