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Archive for Friday, January 21, 1994

GIFT OF TRIBAL ART ON DISPLAY

January 21, 1994

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An exhibition of prehistoric and recent tribal art from around the world opens today at KU's Museum of Anthropology.

A collection of tribal art owned by the late Dr. Carl Menninger and family opens today at Kansas University's Museum of Anthropology.

The exhibit, which will be on display through April 10, includes more than 225 rugs, dolls, pottery and other items owned by the Menninger family and foundation, based in Topeka.

The exhibit items are part of 1,300 pieces that were donated in 1992 to the museum by the Menninger family and foundation, said Al Johnson, director of the museum.

"The pieces in this collection will be here perpetually for display and research," he said. "It's unquestionably one of the most significant collections of this kind to ever come to the museum of anthropology."

The exhibit includes pieces from two collections.

One of the collections was privately assembled by Menninger and his wife, Jeanetta. It was donated by the family, including his wife and Julia Menninger Gottesman, Dr. Robert Menninger, Martha Menninger Nichols and Rosemary Menninger.

The second collection was donated by the Menninger Foundation.

The exhibit is laid out so that newer items are displayed near the museum's entrance, and older items are positioned in the rear.

Many of the items "are heavily oriented in the southwestern United States," Johnson said.

Other items are from South America, Eskimo lands and the eastern United States.

For 30 years, Menninger worked with mental health professionals, Indian leaders and government officials throughout the Southwest on mental health problems among Native Americans.

During trips to the Southwest, Menninger and his wife purchased and received many Native American items as gifts. Eventually, the interest expanded to include prehistoric cultures from around the world.

Menninger died in 1990.

Many objects in the family's private collection were displayed at Menninger's headquarters in Topeka, where displays also were sponsored by the Menninger Foundation.

Program expansion at Menninger, the need for space and the relegation of the collections to storage led to the decision to transfer the collections to KU's Museum of Anthropology.

"The purpose of the display is to say 'Thank you' to the family and foundation, and to show what a treasure we have here," Johnson said.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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