Evansville Museum of Arts and Science

In 2004, the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science celebrated its 100th anniversary of its collection. It is interesting to recall the origins of the collection and of the institutions that have been charged with its care for the past 100 plus years.

The origins of a museum in Evansville are traced to the Ladies’ Literary Club formed in 1874. This club ヨ whose members studied history, art and literature ヨ was incorporated in 1884 and became a part of the State Federation in 1899. It was this period that the Ladies’ Literary Club made a concerted effort to encourage the study of art in Evansville. This came to fruition through a cooperative effort with the Art Committee at Willard Library and resulted in a highly successful exhibition in 1900.

Held at Willard Library and promoted as a curios loanヤ exhibition, this one-week exhibit featured over 400 objects including two-dimensional artwork, sculpture, religious relics, historic books and war paraphernalia. Highlighted in the exhibition was the collection of Colonel and Mrs. Charles Denby. Mr. Denby had served as United States Minister to China and his artifacts included tapestries, wood carvings, and porcelains.

Encouraged by this success, the Art Committee of Willard Library and the Ladies’ Literary Club continued to support the study of art. This included the purchase of the painting Sunset by the noted Indiana artist, J. Ottis Adams. Today, this painting remains a key element of the Museum’s collection and recalls the legendary group of Indiana artist known as the Hoosier Five.

With this backdrop, plans were laid to establish a permanent museum facility with its own collection. Under the leadership of Reverend W.A. Whipple of First Baptist Church, Anna Keck, Dr. Snyder Busse and Charles Artes, Sr., a fundraising campaign was initiated to acquire artifacts from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis. Countries from around the globe were in the process of selling their exhibitions; and artifacts from the Philippines, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Italy and other parts of the world were purchased by the Evansville contingent. The new museum also received a boost when leading citizens of Evansville ヨ including Denby, Samuel Evans and C.A. Rosencranz ヨ donated portions of their private collections to the effort.

Place Categories: Art MuseumPlace Tags: illustration, paintings, printmaking and sculptures

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