Mabee-Gerrer Museum celebrates 100 years

By Jacob Factor, News Editor

Over a century ago, Father Robert Francis Xavier Gerrer was given his first historic relic, an Egyptian scarab, and thought up a way to bring the world to Oklahoma. He started collecting artifacts and paintings and presenting them in his studio. When his collections outgrew his studio in 1919, he moved the collection to Benedictine Hall at the newly formed Saint Gregory’s High School and College. The collection was exhibited there until St. Gregory’s required the space for classrooms.

On August 15, 1977, sponsored by the Mabee Foundation, a new building was started, and April 7, 1979, the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art opened.

To celebrate Fr. Gerrer’s founding of the museum, and to honor his mission to bring the world to Oklahoma, the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is exhibiting “Celebrating a Century: Treasures From the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art,” an “eclectic mix of art and artifacts from thousands of years and from areas across the world.”

The exhibit is on display until March 24.

The museum is also hosting a guest lecturer March 15 to discuss pieces of the exhibit. Dr. Allison Parker is a professor of art history at the University of Oklahoma, and she will be speaking at the museum at 7 p.m. The lecture is free to attend.

MGMoA curator of collections Delaynna Trim said, “we are really excited about her coming and telling people why we think they are important,” to the Countywide and Sun.

Some of the exhibit items include: an ivory crossbow from the Medieval, three-inch women’s lotus shoes from China, paintings by Fr. Gerrer himself.

The crossbow was made especially for wealthy people, Trim said.

It has intricate designs all across the ivory.

The lotus shoes came from an era when women bound their feet to be more “beautiful,” Trim said.

She said the binding-feet practice was most popular in the 19th century, but continued well into the 20th century.

Trim said this exhibit is just the beginning of the centennial celebration.

They will have events all year and a big exhibit during the summer detailing the history of the museum.

“We’re going to have a lot of activities for the community to engage in,” she said.

Then, in October, Trim said they will have a big reveal.

The mummy exhibit, one of the museum’s most well-known, recently underwent ct scans. The face of Tutu, one of the mummies, has been digitally re-constructed, Trim said, which they will unveil.

“We’re really excited to show all the new information we’ve discovered,” Trim said

Museum is finalist for ONE Award

Every year, the Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence Awards give out recognition to organizations in Oklahoma, and this year the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is a finalist. There are eight categories in which the finalists are placed, and each receives a $5,000 award, the category winner receiving $7,500. An overall winner will receive $10,000. The finalists will gather at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club April 27 to celebrate at the 12th annual ceremony.

“Being selected as a finalist brings recognition to the hard work of the Museum’s board, staff and volunteers,” Dane Pollei, director and chief curator, said. “It is a testament to the teamwork taking place at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art. Being a ONE award finalist helps show that we really do have a statewide impact. 24 finalists from Oklahoma’s over 18,000 nonprofits are chosen every year by a selection committee, chaired by David Hogan.“

The finalists are recognized, not merely for their efforts to better their community, but for their quality of process toward that effort,” Hogan said.

MGMoA’s finalist announcement comes during it’s centennial celebration which is going on all year.

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