A longtime fascination with Native American-made objects led Jim and Vanita Oelschlager to collect interesting art and craft of the 19th and 20th centuries. Over the years, their private collection – including tools, blankets, baskets, ceremonial objects, Edward Curtis books and prints, western bronzes, and a mixture of popular culture materials – grew to 800 pieces and now represents peoples from throughout the United States. Previously, the treasures were displayed only in their home, offices, and Oak Lodge, the couple’s retreat in Western Pennsylvania.
In 2010, the Oelschlagers generously loaned 300 pieces from the collection to The University of Akron, providing faculty and students with a valuable research venue that offers immeasurable learning opportunities.
Today, the University is privileged to partner with the Oelschlagers to extend the reach of their collection. For the first time, more than 125 objects from the loaned collection, including a number of rare and valuable pieces, will be on display for the enjoyment and education of the general public, especially students from all educational levels.
The Oelschlagers hope the exhibit, “Connecting Objects to their People,” allows a wider audience to better understand Native American culture as demonstrated through art and tools. The collection’s diversity over geographical areas, cultures, and time periods challenges one to enjoy the art and craft of the various regions – and to avoid stereotypes and outdated symbolism.
Faculty and students from the University’s Department of Anthropology and Classical Studies, and the College of Art prepared the exhibit with the generous support of the Oelschlagers and gratefully acknowledge their never-ending dedication to learning.
Likewise, The University of Akron expresses its appreciation to Jim and Vanita Oelschlager, whose longtime support continues to contribute significantly to the region’s intellectual and educational environment.
The exhibit debuts May 6, 2012, and is free and open to the public. Items will remain on display for approximately six months. In the fall of 2012, tentative plans call for the exhibition to feature the remaining items from the loaned collection.