Friends of the Museum Seeks Harvest Supper Sponsors

Support group explores support for popular event

Friends of the Museum members (from left) Joy Clark, Mary Solomon, Donna Gottshall, Mary Ann Frugé, Dorothy Howorth and John Hardy are working on plans for the Harvest Supper, the main fundraising event that supports the University of Mississippi Museum.

Friends of the Museum members (from left) Joy Clark, Mary Solomon, Donna Gottshall, Mary Ann Frugé, Dorothy Howorth and John Hardy are working on plans for the Harvest Supper, the main fundraising event that supports the University of Mississippi Museum.

OXFORD, Miss. – If a Southern writer looked out a window of Rowan Oak, home of the late novelist William Faulkner, the gathering taking place on the front lawn on a crisp September evening might inspire a scene in a novel or short story.

The sense of community created as people gather under the stars enjoying locally grown food and gentle music would not only be appealing for a writer, but also for participants. That’s why so many people are drawn to the Friends of the Museum’s Harvest Supper, the only evening fundraising event hosted annually at Rowan Oak.

The fifth annual Harvest Supper is Sept. 22, the Thursday before the Ole Miss Rebels’ SEC football game with the Georgia Bulldogs.

Friends of the Museum members are seeking sponsors for the dinner, which has become one of the signature events of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community’s fall season. Previous Harvest Suppers have sold out, and the 2015 event attracted more than $100,000 in support for the University Museum.

The 2016 event will be no exception, said Carlyle Wolfe, president of the Friends of the Museum, a volunteer organization that supports museum fundraising, advocacy and special programing.

“Harvest Supper, our main fundraiser, has quickly become an extremely popular event among area residents and Ole Miss alumni and friends here for a football weekend,” Wolfe said.

“Proceeds from this annual event and the generosity of sponsors enable the Friends organization to address some of the tremendous opportunities and needs of the museum. It means so much to see community members interacting in the museum programs and exhibits and attending this community-building dinner.”

Robert Saarnio, director of the University Museum and Historic Houses, voiced his appreciation for the support that comes from the event.

“Harvest Supper is a quintessential moment in the annual calendar of the museum and Rowan Oak, as it is for the community of supporters who sustain us,” Saarnio said. “Without the Friends of the Museum’s dedication to this magical evening and the generosity of myriad sponsors and attendees, so much of what we offer to our audiences would simply not be possible.

“This extraordinary event inspires us as a staff, and fosters an invaluable degree of good will for the museum and its historic houses – for which we are immensely grateful.”

Joy Clark, vice president of the Friends and chair of the Harvest Supper, revealed a few event changes designed to enhance participants’ dining experience.

“We are hosting the event a month earlier than usual, and participants can expect expanded food choices, and the live art auction will be accompanied by a silent art auction,” Clark said. “We will continue featuring two musical groups for the entertainment. The whole evening is being planned as a welcoming and enticing experience, and we are excited to share plans with prospective sponsors and participants alike.”

The Harvest Supper was born out of a need to host a major fundraiser instead of seeking financial support each time the museum has a need, said Dorothy Howorth, a board member and former president of the Friends. Part of the Harvest Supper proceeds is being used to build a permanent endowment for the University Museum.

“The University Museum is the only museum in north Mississippi with such an extensive and diverse collection of art and artifacts that are accessible to all in the area,” Howorth said.

“There is also the cultural and physical aspect: the unique circumstance that puts the museum squarely in the middle between the town and the university. The museum is used by the Oxford community, the university and all across north Mississippi. Harvest Supper helps the community give back to this valuable asset.”

Howorth points to the two upcoming exhibitions as examples. “Gods and Men: Iconography and Identity in the Ancient World,” May 10-Aug. 24, will showcase some of the museum’s David M. Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, one of the finest university collections of its kind in the United States, covering the period from 1500 B.C. to 300 A.D.

“The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston,” Sept. 13-Jan. 14, will focus on the work of Eggleston, an internationally renowned photographer and a pioneer in fine art color photography.

The Harvest Supper continues to provide a platform to promote the collections and programs available at the University Museum, which was recently named No. 12 on the Best College Arts Museum ranking by Best College Reviews, with Yale University’s museum earning the No. 11 place and Princeton University at No. 14.

Mary Ann Frugé, a Friends of the Museum board member, says when it comes to the museum, she wants sponsors and participants to know that a gift of any size can “do a huge amount of good.”

“The University Museum is a treasure in our community, and it is exciting for us to see more and more people of all ages involved in its programs on a regular basis,” Frugé said. “Harvest Supper is a tremendous undertaking each year, but it comes together thanks to a very dedicated group of board members who want to see the arts continually enhanced. We will be seeking sponsors for this amazing event now and will make tickets available for sale in August.”

Individuals, businesses and other organizations can become Harvest Supper sponsors at these levels:

  • Presenting Level: $10,000 and up
  • Platinum Level: $5,000 to $10,000
  • Gold Level: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Silver Level: $1,000 to $2,500
  • Bronze Level: $500 to $1,000

Sponsors will be listed on the 550 event invitations mailed in August as well as included in news articles, website and social media posts, electronic newsletters and other communications on the event. The various sponsorship levels also provide tickets to the Harvest Supper, admission passes to Rowan Oak, membership to the University Museum and much more.

Proceeds from the evening will help support numerous aspects of the University Museum, including acquisitions, the “Conversations” guest lecture series, exhibitions, educational programming and special events. The event also generates awareness about the ongoing needs to maintain and operate Rowan Oak and the Walton-Young Historic House, also managed by the museum.

For more information on becoming a Harvest Supper sponsor, contact Joy Clark at joylynnjones@hotmail.com. For more information on becoming a member of the University Museum – with membership levels ranging from $25 for students, $45 for individuals and more – or for those interested in supporting the museum, contact Rebecca Phillips at museum@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7073.

The University Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and admission is free.

Artist to Paint Outdoor Sculpture at UM Museum

Public invited to watch transformation of piece

Mia Kaplan giving an outdoor lecture on her process of creating "Swamp Flower"

Mia Kaplan gives an outdoor lecture on her process of creating ‘Swamp Flower.’

OXFORD, Miss. – Artist Mia Kaplan will return to Oxford this weekend to paint her outdoor sculpture that was installed last fall on the front lawn of the University of Mississippi Museum.

The artist plans to paint from 8 a.m. to noon Friday (April 22) and then cover the piece with a glossy coat on Saturday morning. This will be an outdoor event for all ages in the community to drop by and experience the sculpture’s transformation.

The sculpture, “Swamp Flower,” was inspired by the resilience and mystery of water lilies that grow near Kaplan’s home, she said.

“I’m inspired by how something that appears so delicate can be so strong, and how many things that seem strong are in fact delicate in the grand scheme of things,” Kaplan said.

Rebecca Phillips, the museum’s membership, events, and communications coordinator, said she hopes a good crowd will come watch the process.

“The raw metal flower will now become bright-colored and will give the museum lawn a vibrant feel and look,” Phillips said.

Kaplan said she is eager to be back in Oxford to take on this new project and to be able to discuss the completed art with friends.

“I get chills being on the campus of U of M and was thoroughly inspired by the landscape surrounding William Faulkner’s home, the sloping trails and canopies of trees,” Kaplan said. “It’s a wild place.”

As a Southern artist who works primarily in organic forms, Kaplan said nature is what makes the most sense to her. She is interested in recording things from the perspective of a naturalist.

“Nature is something that many people relate to as a metaphor for humanity,” Kaplan said.

UM Museum Named Among Nation’s Best Collegiate Collections

Survey notes facility's diverse holdings and outreach programs

Best College Reviews has named The University of Mississippi Museum one of the nation's best collegiate art museums and also the top in the Southeastern Conference. UM's museum ranked no. 12 on a list of the top 35 collegiate art museums.

Best College Reviews has named University Museum one of the nation’s best collegiate art museums and also the top in the Southeastern Conference. UM’s museum ranked No. 12 among the top 35 collegiate museums.

OXFORD, Miss. – Best College Reviews has named the University of Mississippi Museum and its large collection of folk art, Greek and Roman antiquities and other artifacts as one of the nation’s best collegiate art museums.

UM’s museum ranked No. 12 on a list of the top 35 collegiate art museums. Harvard University’s museum topped the list, which besides Ole Miss, included only one other Southeastern Conference school museum, the University of Florida’s, which came in at No. 31.

University Museum ranks ahead of those at other large and prestigious universities, including Notre Dame, Virginia, Princeton, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Dartmouth, Duke and Stanford.

Robert Saarnio, director of the University Museum & Historic Houses, said he and his staff are “exceptionally proud” of the recognition. 

“We work determinedly to provide our community with very high-quality exhibitions, programs and educational opportunities, so it’s gratifying and humbling to have the national recognition we’ve received,” Saarnio said. “This is truly a tribute to the extraordinarily talented museum staff, the Office of the Provost, which supports us, the Friends of the Museum board, who sustain us, and all of our members and stakeholders, who inspire us daily.”

The survey touts UM’s art museum as offering “something for everyone.” It notes that since the museum opened in 1939, it has offered the community a broad range of outreach programs, after-school programs, adult education and events, making it more than “just a collection of art.”

“Visitors may tour two historic houses, including William Faulkner’s home, and then meander back to the Museum’s vast collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, folk art collection, or a display of over five-hundred 19th century scientific instruments,” the survey notes. “These include telescopes and models of large machines as well as a demonstration of the devices for teaching the sciences. Combined with their ever-changing exhibitions, the University of Mississippi Museum ranks high.”

The recognition reflects that the museum is in a period of momentum and growing influence as it passes its 75th anniversary, which was in 2014, Saarnio said. He credits support from the chancellor’s and provost offices, which have helped the museum’s budget increase incrementally, to add more staff.

“Of all that growth, certainly that which we are proudest of are the educational impacts we have for both the university and general public communities,” Saarnio said. “One example, of many, being the more than 10,000 school children and youth we serve annually through a wide spectrum of creative and dynamic educational programs.”

The recognition helps increase the museum’s visibility, which helps its reputation in the community of peer museums. This could make other museums more eager to form partnerships to host shared traveling exhibitions or develop collaborative programs, Saarnio said. 

The ranking is further proof of the university’s momentum in all areas, said UM Athletics Director Ross Bjork, a fan of the museum.

“Being ranked in the top 25 on a consistent basis means that our athletic teams are competing for and pursuing championships,” Bjork said. “In the same vein, it is only fitting that our beloved University Museum is now ranked in the top 25.

“This is yet another example of the great momentum and forward movement happening all over the University of Mississippi campus, and I am proud to call Robert a colleague and can’t wait to see what they do next.”

New Museum Collection Features Poetry and Photos

Thursday reading at gallery to feature contributing poets, photograher

Picture 001

This photograph is among the images in the collection, which will be on display through June 25 at the University Museum.

OXFORD, Miss. – The newest exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum is a collaboration of poetry and photography inspired by Langston Hughes’ award-winning poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” and the museum is hosting a special reading Thursday (March 3) to celebrate it.

“Of Rivers: Photography by Young Suh, Poetry edited by Chiyuma Elliott and Katie Peterson” features 11 poems accompanied by photographs that interpret them. It runs through June 25 in the museum’s Lower Skipwith Gallery.

The museum is partnering with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and its 23rd Conference for the Book, for a poetry reading at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (March 3) in the gallery. Many of the poets who contributed to “Of Rivers,” including Jericho Brown, Chiyuma Elliott, Derrick Harriell and Katie Peterson, as well as photographer Young Suh, will participate in the reading, which is free and open to the public.

The reading will be followed by an opening reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“Almost 100 years after it was written, Hughes’ ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ still inspires writers to think about how to live and what to do,” said Rebecca Phillips, the museum’s coordinator for membership, exhibits and communication. “‘Of Rivers’ invites the viewer to be part of that conversation. It invites them to discover and contemplate – and hopefully also delight in – some of the new creative work that responds to this famous and important poem.

The exhibit started when organizers asked eight poets of differing styles and sensibilities to write something in response to Hughes’s 1921 poem. The participating poets are F. Douglas Brown, of Los Angeles; Jericho Brown, of Atlanta; Katie Ford, of Los Angeles; Rachel Eliza Griffiths, of Brooklyn, New York; Derrick Harriell, of Oxford; Dong Li, of Nanjing, China and Stuttgart, Germany; Sandra Lim, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Michael C. Peterson, of Cincinnati.

Suh, of Cerrito, California, was asked to visually respond to all the poems.

“What you experience in the gallery is the result of this collaboration: a literary and visual call and response,” Phillips said.

Because the artists featured in the exhibit can take for granted that readers and viewers know the relationship with the Hughes poem exists, some of their work foregoes explicit signals of connection, she said.

“Most of the poems and photographs have some things in common: they are specific, personal and idiosyncratic, not magisterial, or mythic or universal. These creative responses to Hughes focus on the unruly facts of the world. They are shape-shifting – sometimes autobiographical – narratives that begin with a big problem and tend to resist closure.”

The University Museum, at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information on upcoming exhibitions and events, visit http://www.museum.olemiss.edu and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

University’s Arts and Culture Compel Giving

Californian Phil Swan's visits to the Oxford campus become mutually rewarding

Ryan Watkins and Tiara Mabry check out the award winning, fine art quilts by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry on display in the Mary Buie Museum during a reception held there by Fraternity and Sorority Life welcoming Chancellor and Mrs. Vitter. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Ryan Watkins and Tiara Mabry check out the award winning, fine art quilts by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry on display in the Mary Buie Museum during a reception held there by Fraternity and Sorority Life welcoming Chancellor and Mrs. Vitter. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Time after time, visitors to the University of Mississippi fall in love with the hospitable personalities of its people, the beauty of the majestic Grove and historic buildings, the palpable energy that radiates from its arenas and playing fields, and the breadth of its arts and culture.

It was the latter that attracted Phil Swan and ultimately inspired him to offer financial support to both Rowan Oak and the University Museum, though his only connection to Ole Miss is a friend who invited him to campus.

Swan, who lives in Pasadena, California, is director of investor relations for Griffis Residential, a multifamily real estate investment company that owns and manages some 7,000 Class-A apartment units in Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Washington. He also happens to serve on the board of trustees for Colorado College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1984.

“My connection to Ole Miss is through my good, good friend and dean of students at Colorado College, Mike Edmonds,” Swan said. “I first supported Ole Miss five years ago when I made a memorial gift to the Hattie Mae Edmonds Fund” – a fund established by Edmonds’ friends both at Colorado College and at Ole Miss to honor his mother after her death in 2010. The fund supports the University Museum.

Many UM alumni remember Edmonds, the gregarious assistant dean of students who worked in the late ’80s alongside Dean of Students Judy Trott and Associate Dean of Students Sparky Reardon. His passion and love for Ole Miss are as big and as infectious as his personality.

“Ole Miss means so much to me and provided such a wealth of opportunity,” said Edmonds, who earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Ole Miss in 1984, 1985 and 1990, respectively. “I’m excited to be able to see those same opportunities being created for current students.”

Likewise, Swan grew to love Ole Miss when he traveled with Edmonds to represent Colorado College at the official opening of the Hattie Mae Edmonds Gallery at the University Museum in 2010. He and Edmonds have returned time and again to the Oxford campus, bringing family and friends to attend football games and enjoy the experience of pre-game revelry in the Grove.

Edmonds says he is humbled by Swan’s generosity.

“Ole Miss is a very special place and Phil Swan is a very special man, one who understands and is committed to philanthropy and education and also one who appreciates quality,” he said. “I’m humbled and I’m proud of Phil’s sense of philanthropy, his dedication and commitment to education and the arts. I’m overwhelmed and blessed by his desire to give to a place I’m proud to call home.”

Swan’s gift to the Hattie Mae Edmonds Fund helped finance the publication of the exhibit catalog for the Southern folk art exhibit, “Our Faith Affirmed: Works from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection,” which opened in August 2014. It ultimately garnered the museum worldwide acclaim.

“The great thing about this gift was that Phil came in and was very open and available to what we needed,” said Angela Brown Barlow, director of development for the museum as well as the University Libraries and the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. “This was a new exhibit and was extraordinary for us to have. It attracted worldwide recognition and, with an 11-month run, became one of the longest exhibitions the museum has had.

“This has been one of my favorite donor experiences because of Phil’s deep passion for art and for the fact that the exhibits within our relatively small museum are of the quality that can attract a donor like this.”

In 2013, Swan introduced his father to the university and enjoyed lunch at Rowan Oak while touring the historic home of legendary author William Faulkner. He returned again in 2014 with his sisters and again in 2015 with three friends from California.

“(Curator) Bill Griffith conducted wonderful tours and dialogue each time,” said Swan, who recently made a second gift to UM in support of Rowan Oak, where Colorado College incidentally sponsors an annual class on Faulkner’s work.

“As a Faulkner fan, I fell in love with the place and the work Bill is doing there. I hope my gift will help take care of some of Rowan Oak’s most pressing preservation needs.”

Griffith, curator of Rowan Oak, said Swan’s gift was used to buy much-needed tools for the daily maintenance of the renowned landmark.

“As you can imagine, with an old house like this, things break every day,” Griffith said. “Phil is a very observant person. He saw me struggling with some of the projects out here. They’re not big enough to hire a contractor, but if you want to do it right, you really need the right tools. And these are things we will use for years and years to come.”

Rowan Oak has a great need for private support, Griffith said.

“Unrestricted gifts between $1,000 and $5,000 are my favorite gifts because I can really do something with them,” he said. “When Rowan Oak receives an unrestricted gift, it enables us to jump on a project right away. For example, we are currently doing a major renovation to a part of the house that was closed. Having these tools will allow us to do the work ourselves and get the project done quickly.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to support Rowan Oak or the University Museum by mailing a check with the designation noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Angela Barlow, development officer, at 662-915-3181 or ambarlow@olemiss.edu.

Oxford Conference for the Book Brings Variety of Authors to UM

Poets, journalists, scholars and readers coming to campus March 2-4 for free event

Ed Larson

Ed Larson

OXFORD, Miss. – Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, as well as first-time novelists, are part of the variety of legendary and debut writers hosted at the Oxford Conference for the Book, set for March 2-4. Poets, journalists, scholars and readers will visit the University of Mississippi for the 23rd conference.

The three-day event, which is free and open to the public, includes readings, panel discussions and lectures.

The conference is a great way for Oxford visitors and locals to explore the town and the university, said James G. Thomas Jr., conference director.

“We try to open doors with this conference, both literally and metaphorically,” said Thomas, associate director of publications at the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“By that I mean the sessions open up doors for thought and inquiry, and the venues we’re hav­ing them in are places that some Oxford residents, stu­dents, and visitors may not have had the opportunity to explore, such as the Lafayette County courthouse, the Barksdale-Isom House, the UM library’s Faulkner Room and even the University Museum.”

This year’s writers include novelists Rick Bass, Bobbie Ann Mason, Margaret McMullan, Robert Gipe, Taylor Brown and UM Grisham Writer in Residence Kiese Laymon; Mississippi historians Minion K.C. Morrison and Dennis Mitchell; historian and gender studies scholar LaKisha Michelle Simmons; poets Richard Katrovas, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Caki Wilkinson, Jericho Brown, Katie Peterson, Chiyuma Elliott and UM professors Beth Ann Fennelly and Derrick Harriell; histori­an Mark Essig; literary scholar Vereen Bell; and Pulitzer Prizewinners journalist Sheri Fink and historian Edward J. Larson.

Larson, professor of law at Pepperdine University, is the author of nine books, the most recent of which, “The Return of George Washington,” was on The New York Times bestseller list in 2015. He has lectured on all seven continents.

“I love Oxford, I have been for tailgating in the Grove since back when I was on the University of Georgia’s athletic board and the SEC was a 10-team conference,” Larson said. “Oxford has the best catfish anywhere. What I want to do next in Mississippi is to bike the Natchez Trace.”

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s events will take place in the auditorium of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, and the conference will begin with a lecture and free luncheon, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, in the Faulkner Room in Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library, also on the UM campus. Friday’s panels and readings will take place in the main courtroom of the historic Lafayette County courthouse on the Oxford Square.

Lyn Roberts, general manager at Square Books, calls the conference a celebration of books for everyone.

“The Oxford Conference for the Book has a history and tradition of bringing authors, both debut and established, to Oxford and the University of Mississippi, allowing everyone in the community and anyone who wants to travel the opportunity to hear them read from their works and discuss books,” Roberts said.

Conference panels will explore a wide range of topics, in­cluding Mississippi history; childhood in the South; mem­oir writing; youth, activism, and life in the Mountain South; poetic responses to Langston Hughes; Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”; the Hurricane Katrina crisis; America’s continuing debate over science and religion; and a cultural and culi­nary history of the pig.

“I’m excited to introduce Mark Essig to the OCB audience,” said Sara Camp Milam, who will moderate Friday’s 10:30 a.m. panel, sponsored by the Southern Foodways Alliance. “His work is as engaging as it is educational. ‘Lesser Beasts’ was one of my favorite food studies books of 2015. For students thinking about how to make their academic work accessible to a general audience, I’d recommend attending this session.”

A new event this year is a poetry session paired with an art exhibition by photographer Youngsuk Suh. At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, following the “Poetic Responses to Langston Hughes” session, the University Museum will host a free recep­tion.

“Thacker Mountain Radio” will host a special Oxford Conference for the Book show at 6 p.m. Thursday at Off Square Books, 129 Courthouse Square, featuring conference authors and visiting musicians. The day’s authors will be there to meet conference attendees and sign books. Each afternoon following the sessions, Square Books will host book signings for that day’s authors.

Mark Essig

Mark Essig

The Children’s Book Festival will be held March 4 at the Ford Center for Performing Arts, with more than 1,200 first- and fifth-graders from area schools. Laurie Keller, author of “The Scrambled States of America,” will present at 9 a.m. for first graders, and Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of “Counting by 7s,” will present at 10:30 a.m. for fifth graders. The Lafayette County Literacy Council sponsors the first-grade program and the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford spon­sors the fifth-grade program.

Four special social events are set on the Ole Miss campus and in town. On March 2, the Friends of the J.D. Williams Library will host an opening lunch beginning at 11 a.m. in Archives and Special Collections. The lunch is free, but reservations are appreciated. That evening is the gala opening-night cocktail reception-dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the historic Barksdale-Isom House, 1003 Jefferson Ave. A portion of the $50 ticket proceeds is tax-deductible.

At noon March 4, the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library will host a poetry talk and lunch with poet Richard Katrovas. Both the lunch and talk are free, but reservations are appreciated.

The Oxford Conference for the Book is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Square Books, Southern Documentary Project, Southern Foodways Alliance, Living Blues magazine, University Museum, Lafayette County Literacy Council, UM Department of English, J.D. Williams Library, Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writers Fund, Junior Auxiliary of Oxford, Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library, Southern Literary Trail and the Pulitzer Centennial Campfires Initiative.

The conference is partially funded by the university, a contribution from the R&B Feder Foundation for the Beaux Arts, grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council and promotional support from Visit Oxford.

To see a full schedule of events, visit http://oxfordconferenceforthebook.com/ or contact James G. Thomas Jr. at 662-915-3374 or jgthomas@olemiss.edu.

Museum Hosts Valentine’s Family Day

The Valentine's-themed event is set for Saturday, Feb. 13 from 10 a.m. until noon.

The Valentine’s-themed event is set for Saturday, Feb. 13 from 10 a.m. until noon.

The University of Mississippi Museum is helping families get into the Valentine’s Day spirit by hosting a “Quilting Cupids” Family Activity Day this weekend.

This drop-in event is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday (Feb. 13). Admission is free to all and a snack will be provided.

Families and children of all ages are invited to make fun Valentine-related projects that are inspired by the museum’s new exhibit of fine art quilts, “Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry: 40 Years of Color, Light and Motion.”

Activities include paper quilt-making, learning to sew and a gallery scavenger hunt. Museum staff also will collect donations of quilts and blankets for More than a Meal and Interfaith Compassion Ministry, both benefiting families in the Oxford-Lafayette community.

“Family Days at the UM Museum are truly a special opportunity for families to explore the museum and create hands-on art projects together,” said Emily McCauley, curator of education. “We are thrilled to introduce families to the spectacular quilts of Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry.”

The event is sponsored by the Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and an Ignite Ole Miss crowd-funding campaign, which raised funds to support three years of free family days.

The University Museum, at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information on upcoming exhibitions and events, visit http://www.museum.olemiss.edu and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

UM Museum Receives National Recognition

Yearlong academy helps staff prepare for accreditation process

The University Museum was one of only 10 institutions in the country to be chosen to participate in the American Alliance of Museums Small Museums Accreditation Academy.

The University Museum was among only 10 institutions to be chosen for the American Alliance of Museums Small Museums Accreditation Academy.

OXFORD, Miss. – The  American Alliance of Museums has chosen the University of Mississippi Museum to participate in its new Small Museums Accreditation Academy, an honor extended to only 10 institutions nationally.

A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts funds the new accreditation academy. An advisory panel of leaders in the museum field assists the academy’s work. The staffs of the participating museums will undergo a yearlong readiness program with the goal of creating cultures of excellence inside those institutions to prepare them for accreditation.

The selection brings national recognition to the museum staff from peers, said Robert Saarnio, director of the University Museum and Historic Houses. The staff is exceptionally proud of this honor, he said.

“Our yearlong participation will require intensive focus on core documents such as a strategic plan and a disaster preparedness and response plan, among others,” Saarnio said. “At the end of the 12-month period, we will be positioned to commence the formal accreditation process, which is the pinnacle of achievement and acknowledged stature for American museums.”

The American Alliance of Museums, formed in 1906, is made up of 30,000 museum professionals, volunteers, institutions and corporate partners. The group brings those professionals together to develop standards and best practices, share knowledge and provide advocacy on issues that concern the museum community.

The academy uses a guided online experience. It combines live sessions, mentoring and collaborative activities for staff and governing body members at small museums. It is designed for “high-performing” organizations that are striving to achieve best practices to meet the accreditation demands.

“The limited staff and resources of small museums do not preclude them from being operationally excellent and having tremendous impact on their communities,” said Laura L. Lott, the alliance’s president and chief executive officer. “I’m excited to welcome these 10 museums to our new program as they take a major step toward being recognized by the field for that excellence.”

Other museums participating in the accreditation academy are:

  • Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, Bainbridge Island, Washington
  • Earth & Mineral Sciences Museum at the Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania
  • Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Flushing, New York
  • J. Wayne Stark Galleries, College Station, Texas
  • Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum, King City, California
  • Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina
  • Museum of Art at University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
  • Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Zanesville Museum of Art, Zanesville, Ohio

The University Museum is open to the public 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is closed on Mondays and on university holidays. For more information, click here.

University Museum Opens Fine Art Quilt Exhibit

Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry set for artist lecture Jan. 28

'Skylights' is one of the quilts included in 'Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry: 40 Years of Color, Light & Motion' at the University Museum.

‘Skylights’ is one of the quilts included in ‘Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry: 40 Years of Color, Light & Motion’ at the University Museum.

OXFORD, Miss. – A collection of fine art quilts spanning a 40-year career by acclaimed artist Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry are on display at the University of Mississippi Museum through April 16.

“Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry: 40 Years of Color, Light, & Motion” is a 54-quilt exhibit that includes Fallert-Gentry’s first quilt from 1976 and retrospective pieces from the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s.

Fallert-Gentry is internationally recognized for her award-winning, fine art quilts. She is best known for her organic, curved seam designs, her noted use of color and her illusions of light, depth and motion. Her attention to detail has earned her a reputation for fine craftsmanship as well as stunning designs.

Her work has appeared in hundreds of exhibitions and publications throughout the world and can be found in museum, corporate, public and private collections in almost every state and eight foreign countries.

The artist will be on hand for an opening reception and artist lecture from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 28) that coincides with the Sixth Annual Fiber Arts Festival opening evening. In her talk, Fallert-Gentry plans to introduce the use of the quilted sandwich as an art medium and show dozens of examples that cover a wide range of styles.

She will also share information on her personal processes, techniques and history to help viewers understand and enjoy the exhibition. After the lecture, Fallert-Gentry will conduct a Q&A session in the gallery where the quilts are on display.

Born in 1947 in Elgin, Illinois, Fallert-Gentry graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in 1969. She also studied art at Illinois State University, College of DuPage and University of Wisconsin. Fallert-Gentry was a lifelong resident of northern Illinois until 2005, when she relocated to Paducah, Kentucky. There she opened the Bryerpatch Studio gallery and workshop center in Paducah’s historic Lower Town Arts District.

In 2013, Fallert-Gentry married Dr. Ron Gentry and set up a second working studio in Port Townsend, Washington, where she completed many of the quilts featured in this exhibit. In 2014, she sold her Paducah studio and relocated full time to Port Townsend where she continues to make new work in her studio overlooking Puget Sound and the snow-capped Cascades.

“My studio overlooks Puget Sound, several islands and the snow-capped Cascades, and every time I look out I see something a little different,” Fallert-Gentry said. “Since I seldom make landscape quilts, these inspirations find their way into my work in more subtle ways. Four of the pieces I have finished since moving to Washington were about reflections in the water and the patterns I see on the surface of the water as the tide flows in and out of Port Townsend Bay.”

From 1986 to 2013 Fallert-Gentry shared her knowledge with students through her workshops and lectures in 11 countries on five continents. She continues to share her mastery, knowledge and experiences through her exhibitions, lectures, publications and website.

“I find some inspiration everywhere I go,” she said. “In Japan, I’m inspired by the esthetics, the beautiful arrangements of space in everything from gardens and architecture to the fabrics, food and the way products are displayed in the shops. In South Africa, I was inspired by the wild animals and birds, and in Australia, the sinuous shapes in the rainforest and the birds.”

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Hours for the museum are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. For more information on upcoming exhibitions and events, visit http://www.museum.olemiss.edu and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

University Museum Invites Families to Santa’s Workshop

Saturday event features a Polar Express theme

Santa's Work/Shop will take place on Saturday, December 5.

Santa’s Work/Shop takes place Saturday (Dec. 5).

OXFORD, Miss. – Families across north Mississippi are invited to join the University of Mississippi Museum for Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day, coming up Saturday (Dec. 5).

The museum classrooms and lobby will be transformed with fun seasonal activities for the whole family. The drop-in event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This year’s Santa’s Workshop will be Polar Express-themed. Families will create mugs for the polar journey, pose at the “sELFie station,” search for hidden museum-going elves and paint a snow globe inspired by winter scenes from the museum’s collection and “The Polar Express.”

Families can ride the “elf mobiles” or walk to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts to see its annual Gingerbread Village. The elf mobiles will be waiting outside by the “South Pole” for families to take an adventure to the village.

“Santa’s Workshop is always a highlight of the year, and this year we have extended the event by an extra hour to give more families the opportunity to explore different activities and seasonal fun,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “I always love the opportunity to collaborate with the Ford Center, and bringing children to the magical world of Gingerbread Village adds such a special touch to the morning.”

The museum has included the Gingerbread Village in its activities for the past few years, said Rebecca Phillips, the museum’s communications coordinator.

The Gingerbread Village is on display Dec. 3-19 at the Ford Center.

This Family Day is made possible through an Ignite Ole Miss campaign earlier this year that raised more than $6,000 to offer free family days to the Oxford community for three years.

To keep up with museum events, follow the museum on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or visit its website. Share memories of the family day on social media and use the hashtag #freefamilydays and tag the University of Mississippi Museum.

For more information about Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day, contact McCauley at esdean@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7073.