2009 — Gathering Identities, Creating Collections
March – June
COLLECTING AND COLLECTIONS
“Museums would not have been started if it weren’t for the efforts of private collectors.”
— Kevin Smith, Chief Curator, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
People have been collecting for centuries. Over the ages, collections have ranged from works of art to species of animals (zoos), from tools and technology to scientific specimens, from dinosaur bones and gemstones to baseball cards and Pogs.
Today it is believed that one in three people collects something. Many personal collections, and some museum collections, are comprised of curiosities that have little value beyond a sentimental one for the collector. Even with a collection to claim the money.
Museums, like WOU’s Jensen Arctic Museum, often benefit from the generosity of private collectors. The collector offers the museum an opportunity to obtain rare or interesting pieces that it may not be able to acquire otherwise. Because museums are charged with collecting a wide variety of materials, the collector’s knowledge about a specific topic is invaluable.
This exhibition explores several different types of collections: archaeological, teaching, cultural art, commemorative memorabilia, tourist art, and personal objects collected by our students. Many of these objects come from the Jensen Arctic Museum’s collections, and the rest of the items are from the collections of people who are connected to Western Oregon University in some way. These objects help us tell the story of our community, our college and it’s people.
WHY PEOPLE COLLECT
“A curator has to know a little bit about everything, but a collector can know everything about one field.”
— Bob Puckett, Museum director
People collect for many different reasons. Some begin collecting by accident after receiving a gift. Others collect things that remind them of their childhood or other happy times in their lives. Some collections tie people to their ancestors or to cultural and ethnic groups. Most collectors enjoy the thrill of the hunt and some even admit to being obsessive about their hobby. Whatever the reason for collecting, it fulfills emotions that lie at the heart of being human.
For centuries people have collected for a variety of motives: to focus memory, to satisfy a sense of personal beauty, to please personal tastes, to show individualism, for investment and profit, and to satisfy the collections need to be complete, orderly and thorough. They have amassed objects to share with others, to connect with the past and with other people, to preserve history and culture, and simply to have fun.
The collecting impulse is so strong and so widespread that companies now market goods specifically to collectors. Examples include the Franklin Mint, Avon, and more recently, Ty’s Beanie Babies. While often these items are mass produced, many collectors delight in building a complete set.
LOCATION: 3rd Floor Galleries
CURATORS: Keni Sturgeon, Mission Mill Museum Curator & Museum Study Students