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History

memorialhall.jpgThe museums of Beloit College were born in 1848, when Rev. Stephen Peet, one of the founders of the College, donated his mineral collection, which became the nucleus of the College's "Cabinet." It was common practice in 1840s for Eastern Colleges to develop geology and natural history cabinets of specimens to augment textbooks. Beloit College was no exception to this trend. The Cabinet collection was housed in Middle College from 1849 to 1869.

The collection moved to Memorial Hall, when that building was completed in 1869. Memorial Hall was built to commemorate the men of Beloit who perished in the Civil War. By the 1890s the Cabinet collection had grown to contain more than 4,000 specimens, including 900 mounted animal specimens. In 1893 the Cabinet collection was moved to Pearsons Hall of Science. It remained there until 1903, when it was dispersed to appropriate departments on campus.

The Logan Legacy

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Horatio Nelson Rust
(1828-1906)

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Frank G. Logan
(1851-1937)

In 1892 Frank Logan, a wealthy Chicago grain merchant, purchased a collection of around 3,000 Native American archaeological and ethnographic objects for $15,000. Logan bought the collection from Horatio Nelson Rust, a traveling salesman, Indian agent, and collector of Native American antiquities. Logan arranged for Rust to exhibit the collection for him at Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition, where it was exhibited in the Anthropology Building. The Collection was awarded first prize among the archaeological exhibits.

Frank Logan and his wife, Josephine Hancock Logan, became interested in Beloit College through their friend and minister, Dr. Frank Gunsaulus, a Congregational minister in Chicago and a frequent visitor to Beloit College where he lectured in history in 1887-88. In 1893 Frank Logan was appointed to the Beloit College Board of Trustees, and he donated the Rust Collection the same year. The College formally accepted the Rust-Logan Collection at the semi-annual meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 15, 1894.

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1936 field school leaving for
Starkweather Ruin, New Mexico

Frank Logan's contributions to the Museum were extensive. In total he funded 15 expeditions, including several expeditions to Africa, Europe, and the American Southwest. By 1929, Logan had donated $325,000 in cash and stocks and $150,000 in collections to the Museum and Beloit College.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rust Collection exhibited at
Pearsons Hall of Science, 1895

From 1893 to1905 the Rust collection was exhibited on the second floor of Pearsons Hall of Science. In 1905 Memorial Hall was redecorated and greatly improved to house the expanding Logan Museum. Prior to 1905 Memorial Hall was home to the College's library. The Logan Museum expanded to the second floor of Memorial Hall in 1911 when the Music Department moved out.

 

 

 

 

"The Museum in the School"

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First floor of Memorial Hall,
College Library, July, 1895

In 1956 the Logan Museum's former Director Andrew Whiteford wrote an article entitled "The Museum in the School's," which appeared in the journal American Anthropologist. This aptly titled article explains that promoting engaged learning about cultures has formed the primary focus and intent of the Museum since its inception in 1893. The founder of the museum, Frank Logan, insisted on the educational use of the collections, and desired to see the artifacts utilized in teaching students about "primitive life." By 1923 laboratory and classroom spaces were added to the Museum to provide teaching facilities. In 1924 Logan established the George Collie Foundation in Anthropology as a tribute to the founding of the College's Department of Anthropology and George Collie being named as its Chair. The Logan Museum has been intimately connected to the Anthropology Department and faculty positions often involved curatorial and directorial appointments.

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Anthropology and Museum
Studies Students Brian
Balick '99 and Andrew Bryan '00

 With the establishment of the Museum Studies minor in 1982-83, the Museum's role as a teaching museum was expanded even further. Beloit College students are still actively involved in field expeditions, research on the collections, and the development and installation of museum exhibitions, both at the Logan Museum and the Wright Museum of Art.

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First floor Logan Museum, 1905-1911

The early display style of the Logan Museum retained the Victorian era typological style with objects arranged by type and exhibits devoid of cultural context. The Museum's collecting aim in the 1920s echoed the evolutionary paradigm of the typological displays. The first curator, George Collie, and first assistant curator, Alonzo Pond, conducted field work in France and Algeria in hopes of identifying the location of the origin of man. Their efforts generated the Museum's substantial collections of Paleolithic and Neolithic material.

Displaying Culture at the Logan Museum

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Hopi Pueblo diorama, 1962-1992

The display style remained fairly consistent until the early 1950s when the Logan Museum acquired vertical display cases from the Milwaukee Public Museum. The new cases supplied space for more comprehensive and contextual exhibits. The 1950s also witnessed the first dioramas at the Logan Museum. Paleolithic rock art replicas were painted in the basement "cave" exhibit, and by 1957, a life-sized Plains Indian teepee was installed on the second floor. In 1962 Andrew Whiteford completed a nearly life-sized diorama of a four-unit Hopi Pueblo. Starting in the late 1980s exhibitions were modernized in keeping with changes in the museum community. Representations juxtaposed both historic and contemporary cultural contexts. In 1990 the Pueblo diorama was updated to include a contemporary room, complete with television and modern furnishings.

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First floor Logan Museum after
renovations and installation
of the "cube."
© Hedrich Blessing

The 1993-1995 renovation of the Logan Museum incorporated significant changes in architectural and display style. The dioramas and vertical cases were replaced by a two story glass cube that interestingly enough harkens back to the typological display style of the late 1890s.

The "cube" simultaneously stores and exhibits Central and South American Pre-columbian pottery, Southwestern North American prehistoric pottery, and an extensive collection of Native American baskets, making hundreds of objects visually accessible. The cube was fitted with fiber optic lighting to balance preservation with exhibition, and the entire museum was equipped with a sophisticated temperature and relative humidity control system in all exhibition and storage spaces.

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Oil on canvas painting of a Navajo
woman weaving by Elmer C.
Winterberg, 1935

On the second floor, the Robert G. Shaw Gallery features temporary exhibitions developed by Logan Museum staff and Museum Studies students. The gallery also houses regional archaeology collections in glass-covered drawers.

The stairway leading to the second floor gallery displays four paintings by Elmer C. Winterberg, completed in 1935 for the Logan Museum. The paintings depict Navajo woman weaving, Akimel O'odham (Pima) people gathering the fruit of the saguaro cactus, the Acoma Pueblo, and a Hopi Pueblo snake dance. Two large marble plaques memorializing members of the Beloit community who perished in the Civil War are displayed in the foyer leading to the second floor stairway.