University retirees hear about Missouri museums

Friday, April 21, 2017
Dr. Michael Yonan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Missouri, Columbia and Dr. Cat Comley Adams, Ph.D., Senior Director of Advancement with the University of Missouri Extension. Dr. Adams organizes programs with university retirees and introduced Dr. Yonan to Wednesday’s area meeting of retirees held at the senior center. Yonan’s presentation was entitled, “Museums in Missouri from the familiar to the surprising and covered 10 different ones in the state. Seen faintly in the background are two works by Thomas Hart Benton in the State historical Society of Missouri in Columbia.
Johannes Brann/Daily Mail

Did you know there is a museum in Missouri that your dog is welcome to visit?

Did you know there is a museum in Missouri that sucks”?

Did you know that there is a museum with relics from State Hospital No. 3?

Well there are and about dozen retirees from the University of Missouri and their guests learned about these and other museums around the state during a lunch time presentation by Dr. Michael Yonan, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Wednesday at the Vernon County Senior Center.

Dr. Cat Comley Adams, Senior Director of Advancement with the University of Missouri Extension arranged for Yonan as the speaker.

The program reviewed 10 museums in Missouri, which according to Yonan, “range from the familiar to the surprising.”

First up was the St. Louis Art Museum. “Founded in 1881, originally, this was Washington University’s art school but the collection was relocated to the “Art Palace” built for the The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, in 1904. This strength of its collection lies in Asian and 20th century artists but it has high quality classical works as well.

Said Yonan, “The 2013 addition was built to house post World War II art and it does so magnificently.”

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art was founded in 1933 as Kansas City used the private art collection and trust from The Kansas City Star newspaper’s founder, William Rockhill Nelson and a large bequest by local school teacher, Mary McAfee Atkins to purchase the land for the museum. In 2007, a renovation of the existing building and a large addition was funded by Henry W. Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block, who also donated his large collection of art.

Said Yonan, “While the four large shuttlecocks by husband and wife team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen were very unpopular originally, they have practically become the symbol of the museum.

Yonan singled out the reconstructed Chinese temple and the painting “John the Baptist in the Wilderness,” 1598, by Caravaggio.

“He is one of the greatest artists ever and worldwide, there are only about 75 of his paintings, including this one in Kansas City,” said Yonan.

The Museum of Art and Archaeology on the campus of the University of Missouri is used to teach students and has some very good pieces of classical archeology, legally purchased in the 1950s and 60s.

“One of prettiest museums in this state is The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, located on the campus of State Fair College in Sedalia, which opened in 2002,” said Yonan. “It comprises the collection of Harold F. Daum, a local doctor of radiology, who left works of art and a supporting endowment.”

The art museum known as the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, opened at St. Louis, in 2011.

Said Yonan, “The museum was designed to house a private collection of abstract minimalist art. To many, this museum feels cold and its space is challenging in which to show other art and yet, it is an amazing museum.”

Pieces from State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada are on display in the Glore Psychiatry Museum in St. Joseph. This museum uses mannequins and actual equipment to show treatment for various conditions, over the years.

Providing a warning, Yonan said, “Some displays and signage are fascinating while others will turn the stomachs of some as they see how patients used to be treated.”

Founded in 1982 and originally sited in New York City, the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog was relocated to the St. Louis suburb of Des Peres in 1987. It is not about dog breeds or champion animals but contains works of art about dogs.

“Those interested should know three things,” said Yonan. “First, it’s dog friendly; you can bring your dog in the museum. Second, go now because next year, the whole museum is being permanently relocated back to New York City. And third, the Cat Fancier’s Foundation and Feline Historical Museum are located in Alliance, Ohio.”

In 2008, the town of St. James saw the opening of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum. Originally the collection of Stan Kann, the long time organist at the Fox Theater in St. Louis, Kann donated his collection of thousands of units to his repairman who opened a combination museum, salesroom and repair shop.

Last on Yonan’s tour of Missouri museums was Leila’s Hair Museum, which opened in 1986 in Independence. Originally a hair dresser in Marcelline, Leila Kahune became fascinated with and began collecting Victorian era hair wreaths.

“While most people have heard of saving a locket of hair from a beloved or famous person but in the 1800s, it was common to clip and save a large amount of a person’s hair,” said Yonan. “The hair was carefully wound around wire and in turn, artfully turned into intricate wreaths.”

Displayed in homes, next to or around a portrait of the deceased, this was considered a decorative way to memorialize a family member or someone held dear.

The last slide shown by Yonan was for of the Bushwhacker Museum and Jail. With its director, Will Tollerton, coincidentally on hand, Tollerton spoke briefly of the museum’s history and it’s current renovation project.

“The old jail has been badly in need of work for years,” said Tollerton. A lot of museums which don’t have a big endowment or local groups to help fund various projects are going under. That’s why we feel so blessed to have locally the Richardson Foundation and Moss Trust who are underwriting the $20,000 it’s taking to complete this work and keep the old jail around for the next generation.”

Yonan’s handout to attendees listed contact information for other museums including the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art on the campus of St. Louis University, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the campus of Washington, University in St. Louis, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures on the campus of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield.

Leonard Ernsbarger, informal leader of the retirees group, thanked Yonan and congratulated Adams. The day prior, she had successfully defended her doctoral dissertation and so will receive her Ph.D. from MU in May while in August she is anticipating the birth of her first child.

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