Gathering marks transfer of Museum of Art and Archaeology to off-campus site

Monday, September 30, 2013 | 8:29 p.m. CDT; updated 12:28 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The MU Museum of Art and Archaeology closed its doors on Monday.

*An earlier version of the photo gallery with this story misidentified Hamish Whittington-Speck, a first-grader at Lee Elementary School.

COLUMBIA — Employees and supporters of the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology met outside the museum Monday afternoon to mark its transfer to a new location off-campus.

On Tuesday, the museum will begin the process of moving from Pickard Hall to Mizzou North, a facility two miles north of campus. The new location will open sometime in the spring, though an exact date has not been set.

Patricia Cowden, a docent for the museum, and former docent Marybeth Kletti were among the crowd that gathered for one last viewing of its artifacts and a buffet of pizza and cupcakes.

Cowden, who devoted her afternoon to taking pictures for a photo album for retired docents, recounted her favorite memory of the museum.

"Years ago, some football players visited and did not want to be here," Cowden said. "So, I thought, I had to make this fun."

After their visit, the players liked the museum so much they called her "mom" whenever they saw her on campus. She even attended a "Mom's Weekend" for one of the players. The museum formed long-lasting relationships like these with all visitors, Cowden said.

Ann Mehr, a teacher at Lee Elementary School, organized the farewell event because of her longstanding relationship with the museum — she has been bringing her students to it since the '90s. She said she is always delighted to see students develop a love for the artifacts.

"After the students come, they bring their parents back, and they become the docents," Mehr said.

The frequency of field trips will likely change after the collections move off campus, Mehr said.

Several children drew pictures of the museum's artifacts and paintings during the final gathering.

The relocation is part of Renew Mizzou, a $22.85 million project to renovate Jesse, Pickard and Swallow halls.

Pickard Hall will undergo testing and renovations to repair the aftermath of former MU professor Herman Schlundt's radioactive experiments, according to previous Missourian reporting. In the early 1900s, Schlundt shipped thousands of pounds of radioactive sludge to MU to conduct research. He failed to abide by safety precautions, leaving behind radioactivity in Pickard Hall.

In 2011, a spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the Missourian that the hall's walls, attic and floorboards contained radiation. The commission said the level of radiation was safe, however.

During the time Pickard Hall is closed to the public, the university will conduct radiation testing. The cost to move the museum's contents is estimated at $1.5 million, but additional costs to test the building for radiation are unknown.

Until the Mizzou North location opens, the museum's collections will be stored by a moving company. To continue offering access to the artifacts, the museum will add educational tools to its website and will create travel trunks to bring replicas of artifacts into classrooms.

Although the artifacts haven't left campus yet, many regular visitors of the museum expressed concern about their absence from campus.

"This is our last look (because) it may not come back here," said Terri Rohlfing, a member of the museum's board. "It's been great, and it's going to continue to be great."

Kletti said she looks forward to the day the museum returns to campus.

"I'm hoping it will come back. It needs to be here," she said.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.

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Ellis Smith October 1, 2013 | 6:23 a.m.

"I'm hoping it will come back. It needs to be here," she said.

At least where it will now be located it will be easier for anyone (students, faculty, others) arriving from Kansas City, Rolla or St. Louis to locate and find parking than at its previous location.

Progress, of a minor sort.

(Report Comment)
Angela Speck October 1, 2013 | 8:30 p.m.

1) it does need to be on campus because it is used for teaching. Many faculty have courses built around the facility that will have to be abandoned or seriously revised. This is a university facility that can no longer be used for training and teaching MU students - MUs primary mission!

2) the photo that claims to feature Owen Sarver actually features Hamish Whittington-Speck who is a Lee 1st grader. I imagine Owen isn't impressed with the art skills attributed to him and Hamish is furious that you didn't recognize his arms/art

(Report Comment)
Alicia Stice October 2, 2013 | 12:30 p.m.

Hi, Angela - Thanks for bringing the mistake in the photo caption to our attention. We've fixed it.

Alicia Stice, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)

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