Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting ready to set up the East African Exhibit!

SRAC lecture hall will house the East African Exhibit February 4th - 25th.
We have been working hard the last couple of weeks to get ready to unveil the East African Exhibit titled "Ordinary Objects - Extraordinary People" at SRAC. We have removed all of the furniture (including around 80 heavy duty chairs!) that we could and then curtained and draped everything else in earth tone/ desert tone colors so as to give the room a totally new "African" feel. The crates arrived last week - and we plan to be able to start putting the exhibit together when the creators, Bill and Betty Baumann arrive on Tuesday. They tell me that it will take around two days to get all of the exhibit set up...

The exhibit is the result of anthropological work done personally by the Baumanns with eight different
nomadic tribes in Eastern Africa. Sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee, they worked with other anthropologists to record these tribes and their material culture for the very first time in history. In fact, Bill will tell you that the things that you see in this exhibit came from these tribes who donated and sold their items to him with the intention of recording their everyday life.

In return, Bill with the assistance of the Ford Foundation helped each tribe make a small cultural center on their own tribal lands for visitors and even the UN to be able to come in and learn more about these people. Bill told me that some of these centers are merely huts, but they are manned by a trained staff person who takes care of it while having the responsibility of teaching anyone who visits about his tribe and their way of life. The Ford Foundation continues to pay each tribe $200 to pay this staff person his annual salary.

When you come to the exhibit, you will see the 8 tribes represented with actual items they deemed to be representative of who they are and how they live. From clothing to basketry, to ornate headrests, to food containers, to regalia and beadwork, and so on that total over 350 items I am told in all. Along with this there are incredible photos and artwork, maps and even books that are part of the exhibit.

Bill also claims that because this was made by the tribes wanting to show their "ordinary objects" - that there are things in this exhibit that cannot be seen in any other museum in the world. As a result, this exhibit is the most comprehensive representation of these nomadic people that exists anywhere and is a must see for anyone trying to learn more about them and how they survive life in a harsh sub-Saharan desert environment.

After experiencing the exhibit, visitors will better understand why the exhibit is aptly named, "Ordinary Objects - Extraordinary People."

The exhibit will be open February 4th - 25th, Tuesdays through Fridays 1-5pm, Saturdays 11-5pm. A request of a $3 donation will be requested for the general public, $2 for seniors. All children students can attend the exhibit at no expense.

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