Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Stark Museum Of Art

If you all remember, not that long ago, I posted about the Shangri La Gardens in Orange, Texas, that was started by H.J. Lutcher Stark in 1946. Well, H.J. Lutcher Stark also had a vision to start a museum. Not any museum though, an art museum. The Stark Museum of Art is also in Orange, Texas.

The Stark Museum of Art focuses on collections of Western Art, American Indian Art, Decorative Arts, and Rare Books and Manuscripts. Mr. Stark shared his passion for collecting with his Mother, Miriam Lutcher Stark, though his focus was more on nature and art depicting the American West.

Mr. Stark and his wife, Nelda C. Stark, started the "Stark Foundation", which was to be operated exclusively for educational and charitable purposes. Though Mr. and Mrs. Stark have since passed on, their visions are carried on by the Stark Foundation's directors and officers.

"The mission of the Stark Foundation is to improve the quality of life in Southeast Texas by encouraging, promoting and assisting education, the arts, and health and human services...The Foundation also seeks to encourage and assist education through grants and through the scholarship program of the Miriam Lutcher Stark Reading and Declamation Contest. In addition, the Foundation strives to achieve the intent of its founders through grants to organizations seeking to improve area health care and to local organizations with a focus on special community and social needs"

The Western Art collection shows how, during the last two centuries, art has been interpreted in the western region of this country. It includes many photographs of Native American Indians in their natural customs.

The American Indian Art collection is a collection of hand crafted pieces from tribes around the west such as the "Great Plains, Southwest, Eastern Woodlands and Northwest Coast. The collection includes excellent examples of Plains clothing, body ornaments, and beadwork, such as elaborately beaded moccasins."

The Rare Books and Manuscripts collection is what interests me the most. I'm a HUGE history buff, and love "old things", so I would just love to go see this collection.

"The Rare Books and Manuscripts collection includes The Birds of America by naturalist John James Audubon. These five double elephant folios, which depict the birds of North America, belonged to the artist. The groundbreaking publication is widely regarded as one of the finest illustrated books of all time. In addition to Audubon’s The Birds of America are letters and journals by Audubon and artist Paul Kane, seven Books of Hours manuscripts, and more rare treasures."

And lastly, the Decorative Arts collection consists of primarily glass and porcelain. The collection includes such pieces as "the only complete set of The United States in Crystal, a series of bowls engraved with scenes representing each of the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the Union", as well as a series of porcelain birds by artist Edward Marshall Boehm.

When you are done exploring this beautiful museum, be sure to explore the city of Orange , Texas a bit too! You could also visit Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center, which is also run by the Stark Foundation. The Stark Museum of Art website is very informative and helpful. They have a wealth of information, much more than I could provide in my post.

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