University of Illinois Museums: Complementary Themes

Where is the line drawn between art and cultural heritage artifacts?  That question came to mind when I visited the Krannert Art Museum and the Spurlock Museum, both on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana.

Krannert Art Museum
The Krannert Art Museum, the second largest fine art museum in Illinois, has many pieces in their collection that are obviously categorized as art, like the extensive collection of European paintings, many dating back several centuries…

European

…and the collection of Lorado Taft sculptures.  Lorado Taft, an early 20th century sculptor and University of Illinois graduate, left the contents of his studio to U of I.  The Lorado Taft collection includes small plaques portraying the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Quincy, Illinois, and his sculptural group “The Blind.”

Lorado_Taft_Lincoln

Blind

I’d say this elevator grill from the Chicago Stock Exchange fits into the “art” category.

Elevator_grille

But go down to the lower level, and that’s where the question of art versus cultural heritage comes in.  There are some stunning glass pieces.

Blue_irridescent_glass_bowl

There are ancient artifacts from Egypt…

Egyptian

…and from Greece.

Greek

There are lots of other items, too, dating back centuries.

Spurlock Museum
The Spurlock Museum holds approximately 43,000 artifacts in its collection, many that certainly can be classified as art.

During my visit, a temporary exhibit displayed museum textile artifacts.  Alongside were new  textile and fiber art pieces created by members of the C-U Spinners and Weavers Guild who drew their inspiration from the originals.

Spinners_Weavers_feature

The Workman Gallery of Ancient Mediterranean Cultures is filled with statues of gods and goddesses.

Greek_Roman

This urn looks a lot like some of the pieces I saw at the Krannert Art Museum.

Urn

In other galleries you’ll find items like this costume used in Carnival rituals in the Andes…

Spurlock_Mythical_Lion

…and Barong Ket, the mythical lion said to possess magical powers.  The beast is carried in ceremonial processions in Bali.

Spurlock_Carnival_2

So where is the line drawn between art and cultural heritage artifacts?  It seems the line is so blurred it’s difficult to tell the difference.  Perhaps there’s a technical explanation that can be answered by an art expert or an anthropologist.  I am neither.  I was just visitor who enjoyed both museums equally.

The Krannert Art Museum is located at 500 E Peabody Drive in Champaign.  The Spurlock Museum is located at 600 S Gregory in Urbana.  Both museums are free but suggest a donation of $3.  Check the web sites for hours.

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Other blog posts you may enjoy:

The Art Party Studio, Champaign IL: Discover Your Inner Artist

Peoria Riverfront Museum: Interactive Exhibits, Planetarium and Giant Screen Theater

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Springfield IL: Museum Meets Disney

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, Rantoul, Ill.

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