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Mathers Museum celebrates 50th anniversary with 'Treasures' exhibition, programs

Apr. 25, 2013

A new exhibition and a series of free programs highlighting the collections of Indiana University's Mathers Museum of World Cultures will mark the institution's 50th anniversary this month.

Yama Mask

This mask from India/Tibet will be on display as part of the musem's anniversary exhibition. It was acquired from the late Thubten Norbu, a professor of Tibetan Studies at IU and brother to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In Tibetan Buddhism the mask was worn by a monk during a dance performed as part of a prayer festival, and represents Yama, a wrathful guardian and defender of the faith.

The "Treasures of the Mathers Museum" exhibition will open at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28.

"As its name suggests, the exhibition is an opportunity to survey the breadth and richness of the museum's collections," museum director Jason Baird Jackson said.

"While a celebration of the museum's anniversary, the exhibition traces the history of how the museum's collections have grown, and how this growth reflects wider changes in the museum, as well as the passions and interests of those students, scholars and collectors with whom we have partnered over five decades."

The institution was formally organized as the Indiana University Museum in 1963, under the leadership of Wesley Hurt.

It grew from a small assemblage of artifacts in a few rooms in Maxwell Hall to the current holdings of 28,000 objects and 40,000 photographic materials that "match the international breadth of Indiana University's student body, alumni, research, collaborations and programs," Jackson said.

"The collections span the globe and are a unique and priceless resource for understanding the collective human story, past and present."

The museum moved to its current location in 1983, and was renamed the William Hammond Mathers Museum in recognition of the son of Frank and Maud Mathers, the principal building fund donors. Geoffrey Conrad served as the director from 1983 to 2012 and oversaw the expansion of museum collections and programs during those decades.

Jackson was appointed director of the museum in January, and has worked with museum staff to produce the "Treasures" exhibition.

The exhibition features a broad selection of the museum's holdings, highlighting artifacts by decades and collectors. Distinctive strengths of the collections are represented in the exhibit, including artifacts of African, Native American and Latin American cultures; historical materials from Indiana; and musical instruments from around the world. Collectors featured in the exhibit include Henry and Cecilia Wahl, Pacific and Indiana materials; Laura Boulton, musical instruments; Madge and Sherman Minton Jr., Pakistani materials; Roy Sieber, African materials; and Elinor and Vincent Ostrom, Native American materials.

Two additional exhibits will open on April 28. "Time As We Keep It," is curated by IU senior Paige Kadish, while "Footsteps of a Stranger: Shoes from Cultures Around the World" is curated by IU sophomore Haley Hall. Both are students in the College of Arts and Sciences, with Kadish majoring in political science and Hall in anthropology. Both are enrolled in Anthropology A408/Museum Practicum.

The museum also offered a number of free programs during the month of April, kicking off the institution's anniversary celebrations. Still upcoming:

Meet the Collection: Experiencing Bark Paintings from Australia

2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27
Earlham College art historian Julia May will present a selection of museum paintings on eucalyptus bark panels from Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory. She'll discuss the history of the form, the methods used to create the paintings and interpretations based upon the Aboriginal system of belief called the Dreaming. May is an associate professor of art history and curator of the Earlham College Art Collection at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information about the exhibitions or programs, contact the museum at 812-855-6873 or mathers@indiana.edu.

About the Mathers Museum of World Cultures
The museum is located at 416 N. Indiana Ave. in Bloomington. Its exhibit halls and museum store are open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Free visitor parking is available by the Indiana Avenue lobby entrance. Metered parking is available at the McCalla School parking lot on the corner of Ninth Street and Indiana Avenue. The parking lot also has spaces designated for Indiana University C and E permits. During the weekends, free parking is available on the surrounding streets. An access ramp is located at the Fess Avenue entrance, on the corner of Ninth Street and Fess Avenue, and reserved parking spaces are available on Ninth Street, between Fess Avenue and Indiana Avenue.

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