‘Shared Passion: The Richard and Dorothy Nelson Collection of American Indian Art’ Opening Oct. 6 in Museum

Photo of Memorial Hall

The Southeast Missouri Regional Museum in Memorial Hall will display “Shared Passion: The Richard and Dorothy Nelson Collection of American Indian Art” beginning Oct. 6.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Oct. 3, 2006 – The Southeast Missouri Regional Museum will display “Shared Passion: The Richard and Dorothy Nelson Collection of American Indian Art” beginning Oct. 6 and running through Nov. 19 on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

The exhibit will open with a reception at the museum from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 6. Richard Nelson will present a lecture at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in 122 Memorial Hall. Both events are free, and the public is invited.

Martin DeWitt, director of the Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, has characterized the collection as “one of this region’s most prominent collections of American Indian fine art and native material.”

In 1958, while serving as the Presbyterian campus pastor at Iowa State Teacher’s College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls, Richard Nelson purchased a work of art as a Christmas gift for his wife, Dorothy. The gift sparked what has become a life-long passion for the Nelsons.

Initially, their collection focused on religious art by contemporary artists. However, in the 1970s, the Nelsons shifted their focus and began collecting Native American birchbark, baskets and beadwork.

Richard Nelson said, “A conscious decision was made to collect historic material from the Great Lakes area. Most of our married life has been lived on the shores of Lake Superior at Sault St. Marie, Mich., and Duluth, Minn. It seemed natural that the materials used to form items in the collection would come from the birch, ash, willow, spruce, cedar and basswood trees and grasses in the area. At first we bought almost everything we saw to get examples of quill work, containers, baskets and styles. Later we began to look for examples of fine craftsmanship and materials.”

In the 1980s, the Nelsons began collecting the work of contemporary Native American artists and expanded their interests beyond the Great Lakes region. Works from the Nelson collection have been exhibited at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minn.; the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.; the Hafenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University in Providence, R.I.; the Taylor Museum at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, N.D. Following its opening at the Tweed Museum in Duluth, “Shared Passion” began its 18-month-long national tour, including its current stop at the Southeast Missouri Regional Museum.          The museum is located at 122 Memorial Hall on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. The museum’s hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m., but will be closed Oct. 14-15. For more information, contact Ellen Hahs, curator of education, at (573) 651-2301 or James Phillips, curator of collections, at (573) 651-5993.