Kauffman Museum debuts new celebratory exhibition
“5 continents, 25 centuries, 125 years of collecting.” This is the only way to describe the all new The Magic of Things exhibit at Kauffman Museum, created in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the museum. The exhibit was meant as both a celebration of how far Kauffman Museum has come since it’s opening in 1896, as well as a kind of recap of the historical artifacts that have not seen the light of day in years, possibly even decades.
“The exhibits were chosen by current and former curators of the museum… artifacts that have slumbered in the storage wing for years with wonderful stories to tell,” said lead curator Reinhild K. Janzen.
These artifacts have their stories told by way of six different themes in the exhibit. The first theme, the Art of Communication, expresses these stories Janzen discussed in words or pictures from several different cultures and languages, including clay cuneiform tablets and seals from the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, dating back as far as 700 B. C.E. A statuette of the Egyptian god of death Osiris, which was dated to be from around 1600 B.C.E (nearly 3700 years old) is also on display. The next exhibit theme is based on the Power of Ritual, and features a full dance suit, mask, and lance from the Republic of Congo, gifted to a Kauffman donor from the mid 1960’s. More Speed, the next theme, shows off Kauffman’s collection of transportational artifacts, including a motorcycle from the early 1900’s. Nature Study, a section dedicated to the wonderful world of natural beauty, and Making a Home, based around artifacts from homes from around the world, follow suit. The last theme, Stepping Out in Style, sums up the wondrous evolution of culture, featuring outfits from across a wide variety of time periods and countries from around the globe.
Truly, this exhibit may be viewed as Kauffman’s finest work yet and is a wonder of this historic community staple.
Janzen had this to say about the history of the museum and it’s ties with Bethel: “This is the oldest Mennonite museum in the Americas; 125 years at Bethel College.”
Bethel is also featured on the forefront of the exhibits on display for the 125th anniversary event. A 1986 Macintosh computer and a 1920 Californian Job Case, both items used by Bethel College over the years, each have their own display in the exhibit, celebrating the accomplishments of not just the museum itself, but also those of Bethel.
Truly a historical accomplishment, the anniversary of Kauffman museum is unlike anything else before, and must be seen to truly understand. Artifacts from Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and Asia all make their impacts after being in storage for years upon years, and telling stories from decades, even centuries apart. The exhibit will remain open through the remainder of this semester, closing on May 22, 2022. Be sure to visit the Kauffman Museum, and experience the full glory of The Magic of Things.