Two exhibitions featuring the collections of objects from local residents and from the Burma Art Collection at NIU are set to open at the Northern Illinois University Art Museum on Thursday, March 30, with a public opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29. Informal gallery talks with curators of “Local Visions II” Peter Olson and Michael Bennett, and “Americans in Burma: The Art of Collecting” curator Catherine Raymond to begin at 6 p.m.

Local Visions II

Local Visions II postcard image featuring collectors Michael Barnes, Aleksandra Giza, Doug Jeppesen, Michael Noland, Ari Norris, Rich Rice and Christo Watson.

“Local Visions II” is a sequel to the first Local Visions exhibition at the NIU Art Museum held in 2015. It highlights the personal collections of objects and artwork that can be found in the homes of local residents. Many of these collectors started at a young age, making significant sacrifices to fuel their growing passion including paying in installments or trading either their own artwork or labor for artwork that would enrich their living environment.

“Americans in Burma: The Art of Collecting” features a diverse range of objects donated by Americans to the Burma Art Collection at NIU while it examines the critical importance of preserving the past for understanding the present and for transmitting knowledge to future generations. These objects illuminate the life of 20th century Americans in Burma as they moved abroad at the request of a new Burmese government after independence from the British in 1948 and lived there with roles as advisors, educators, scholars, diplomats, missionaries or travelers.

Including a sacred altar of Buddha images and manuscripts, musical instruments, textiles, silver, bronze, ivory and lacquerware, the artworks on view tell individual American stories and highlight their love for Burmese arts and crafts. The exhibition asks how these objects may reveal a “true” local tradition or is a response by adapting to western taste and the growing souvenir market. This exhibition suite runs March 30 to May 13, 2023.

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Calendar of Events

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Public Opening Reception, 5 to 7 p.m.
Informal gallery talks with the curators at 6 p.m.
NIU Art Museum Galleries

Friday, April 14
Burma Studies Symposium: Americans in Burma: Collecting and Collectors
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., open to the public.
Founders Memorial Library, Room 71-N

Saturday, April 15
Meet the Collectors!
Collector talks with four of the featured collectors in “Local Visions II.” Lineup: Aleksandra Giza, Michael Noland, Rich Rice and Christo Watson.
2 p.m., NIU Art Museum South Gallery

Thursday, April 20
Objects Worth Keeping
Poetry/short story reading about collecting.
Register to read or recite by calling 815-753-1936 or email
7 to 8:30 p.m., Altgeld Hall 125

Saturday, April 29
Meet the Collectors: Part II
Collector talks with the other featured collectors in “Local Visions II.” Lineup: Michael Barnes, Doug Jeppesen and Ari Norris.
2 p.m., NIU Art Museum South Gallery

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About the NIU Art Museum

Serving Campus and Community by Balancing Traditional and Contemporary Art to Explore the Connections Made through Visual Culture.

Part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ vibrant and active arts community on campus, the Northern Illinois University Art Museum is a resource for the NIU campus, local community and beyond.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, at the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drive on the main campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

Parking is available in the visitor pay lot located at 200 Carroll Ave. Limited metered and accessible parking spaces are available in front of Lowden Hall with accessible aisles and route to Altgeld. Campus parking is free on weekends and after 5 p.m. weeknights in nearby lots 3 and 14.

To request disability-related accommodations for museum programs, please contact the museum at least one week in advance. Northern Illinois University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

The exhibitions and programs of the NIU Art Museum are sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum, the NIU Arts and Culture Fee, and the College of Visual and Performing Art’s Season Presenting Sponsors Shaw Media and WNIU/WNIJ.

Gallery Hours

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday
Noon to 6 p.m. Thursday
Noon to 6 p.m. Friday
Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday; and by appointment for group tours. Exhibitions are free and open to the public.

Banner Photo: Photograph by Chloe Insley and Maeve Wallace; objects from the NIU Burma Art Collection.