Community looks to preserve art


Courtesy of Christine Bentley, art department head

Southern’s African art collection on display in the Spiva Art Gallery Aug. 10-16, 2014.

The Missouri Southern Art Department is raising funds for the proper preservation and storage of over 300 African artifacts that have been collected on campus since 1997. The artifacts include ceremonial masks, weapons, tools, instruments, weavings and more, most from the 19th century and originating from the Congo, Iberian Peninsula, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

Christine Bentley, head of the art department, said that until the exhibition held earlier this month, the objects had primarily been used in art classes on campus. Now, the art department will allow students in specific art classes to use software to digitize and catalogue each item before having the collection assessed and permanently displayed.

“The more you put it on display, the more potential damage you’re causing to the pieces,” Bentley said, “and so we really need to be able to further assess the condition of the pieces and have them properly stored.”

John and Pam Finley donated three-quarters of the total collection. Other donors include Marianna Keown, Vivan Olsen, Guy Mace and Ben Pickard. The Finley collection was appraised in 1998, but current value is estimated at over $500,000, according to a report in The Joplin Globe. Bentley said the Finley collection will be reappraised as part of the total project.

In order to raise funds to have the other collections appraised and the whole collection properly preserved, the art department is offering an adoption program for each piece. Students and community members may partially adopt a piece for $25 or $50, having their name displayed with the piece along with the piece’s other sponsors. The sole adoption of a piece costs $100. Those who wish to support the preservation of the collection may also do so by purchasing T-shirts, key chains, magnets or buttons, with prices varying from $2 to $25. These items are available in the art department.