Museum’s Annual Membership Party and Harvest Supper at Rowan Oak Set for Oct. 11

Robert Saarnio selected as new director of UM Museum and Historic Houses

OXFORD, Miss. – A festive mood is in order for Thursday (Oct. 11), when members of the Oxford community and university leaders gather for two cultural events to benefit the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses.

The annual Membership Party, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum, celebrates recent gifts to the museum’s permanent collection and will showcase the latest exhibition, “Gifted Visions: Recent Gifts to the Permanent Collection.” This event is free and open to the public.

The “Harvest Supper on the Grounds of Rowan Oak” hosted by the Friends of the Museum will immediately follow the membership party. Robert Saarnio, who was recently named new museum director, will be on hand to greet guests at both events.

The “Gifted Visions” exhibit, which runs through Oct.27, features work by acclaimed artists such as Mary T. Smith, Alyne Harris, Andrew Bucci, Marie Hull, Glennray Tutor and William Dunlap.

Robert Saarnio

Robert Saarnio

“From its inception, the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses have flourished due to the generous support of the Oxford community and individuals wishing to share their private collections with a larger audience,” said Emily Dean, museum program coordinator. “These recent gifts are a tremendous addition to our permanent collection, which will be an invaluable resource for learners for all ages for years to come.”

Recent art donors include: Louis E. Dollarhide and Betty Z. Harrington, Elizabeth Dollarhide, John Z. Dollarhide, Louis E. Dollarhide III, Martha C. Dollarhide, David K. Dollarhide, Donna H. Vinson, Vikki Hughes and Price Johnson, A.C. Brown, William Dunlap, UM Chancellor and Mrs. Dan Jones, and Ray Meifert.

The harvest supper will feature seasonal produce from Woodson Ridge Farms provided by Elizabeth Heiskell Catering, with music by Alphonso Sanders and friends.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. supper are $125 per person and may be purchased at the University Museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, or by calling 662-915-7073.

Sponsors for the harvest supper are the Self Family Foundation, Margaret Wylde, Ken Wooten, First National Bank, Wright and Sonia Thompson, Woodson Ridge Farms, Cathead Vodka, Lazy Magnolia, Oxford Floral, Nautilus Publishing, Howorth and Associates Architects, Mary Ann and Don Frugé, Bob and Suzie Sawyer, and BancorpSouth.

“I’m excited to have the harvest supper and the members’ party as my first significant opportunities to acknowledge to assembled gatherings of museum supporters my great joy in assuming this wonderful position, at this remarkable museum,” Saarnio said. “These celebrations of the museum’s community, and our donors and members, will be absolutely exceptional events.”

A native of northern Minnesota, Saarnio began his career as curator of architecture at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Since then, he has held a number of leadership positions in the museum field, including serving as the director of museums and curator of university collections at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent appointment was as director of development for the College of Engineering at the University of Hawaii Foundation. Before that, Saarnio was deputy director at Honolulu Academy of Arts.

For more information, visit or call Emily Dean at 662-915-7073. For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7084.