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Museum and Historic Houses Gets $27K from Auxiliary Group

Friends of the Museum gift supports exhibitions, reinstallation of historic antiquities collection

By: Deborah Purnell, Ole Miss News Desk

Mary Buie Museum. University Communications photo by Robert Jordan
Mary Buie Museum. University Communications photo by Robert Jordan

The Greek and Roman antiquities collection at the University Museum and Historic Houses has gotten a boost as part of a $27,000 gift from a local auxiliary group.

The Friends of the Museum has given $12,000 toward the reinstallation of the collection, which will be housed in the museum’s original Mary

Buie wing; $12,500 in seed funding for the museum’s next five exhibitions; plus $2,500 for the installation of the museum’s next outdoor sculpture.

Robert Saarnio, named museum director in fall 2012, said he inherited a dedicated group of community leaders who are passionate about the museum.

“We are profoundly and deeply grateful for the Friends of the Museum’s continued activities on behalf of the museum,” Saarnio said. “As a result of their events and annual fundraiser, we are able to provide more educational programs and enhance access to the museum’s collections for north Mississippi.”

The organization proudly supports the museum’s programs, activities and acquisitions through community advocacy, outreach and fundraising, said Dorothy Howorth, president of the group.

“This gift is not a one-time donation for us. Our support is and will be ongoing,” Howorth said. “The Friends’ funding is intended to enhance the university’s collections, programs and activities for generations to come.”

The city of Oxford owned the museum until 1974, when it deeded the property to the university.

Howorth said the Friends organization probably originated during that time and has evolved into a support organization for the museum.

While small contributions remain important, group members realized that an annual event would bring more awareness to the museum, Howorth said. In October, the organization hosted an inaugural Harvest Supper on the grounds of Rowan Oak.

“The Harvest Supper was created as an annual event that will raise money and awareness, and stimulate contributions at a higher level,” she said. “It allows us to showcase Rowan Oak and to celebrate and enjoy it as a place of living history.

“The museum is an important part of the community’s cultural life, and as one of the few professionally-staffed museums in north Mississippi, it has tremendous potential to do more. Serving a broader community more fully simply requires more community support, and that is what the Friends of the Museum is trying to do.”

The next Harvest Supper is slated for Oct. 10.

The University Museum is at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. For more information, visit the University Museum and Historic Houses website or call 662-915-7073.

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