Gift to benefit CSU museum

Oct 012008
Authors: Alison Kent

The CSU Design and Merchandising Museum will relocate to the University Center for the Arts after it received a $1.25 million gift from the Avenir Foundation, a Lakewood grant foundation. With the money, the museum facilities will be improved, along with educational opportunities and future exhibits.

The museum, which has been housed in the Gifford Building for more than 30 years, will be renamed the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising and will be available for public access this spring.

“The most valuable part of the gift is the extension of the collection to the students; including frequent exhibitions, speakers and hands-on workshops,” said Mary Littrell, head of the Department of Design and Merchandising. “This is a rare opportunity for students at a university anywhere in the U.S.”

Littrell said the museum’s subsequent collection expansion will draw attention among peer universities and provide a model for others to follow.

The donation will provide the museum upgrades to facilities, which include a state-of-the-art climate control system and additional storage. The grant will also allow the public limited hands-on access to the exhibits for increased educational opportunities.

“The hands-on workshops include dying and weaving — everything associated with textiles,” she said.

The current museum collection is composed of historic textiles, clothing, accessories and an extensive assortment of shoes.

The new funds will go toward at least two exhibits a year and special events such as an open house tour and guest speakers.

Opening in April 2009, the first exhibit, “Window to the World,” will feature many western artifacts in addition to international pieces. It will showcase a unique collection of Civil War era hoop skirts, elaborate hats, beaded flappers from the turn of the century, and dresses designed by Calvin Klein and Arnold Scassi.

Not only will the new museum showcase historic artifacts from the states, it will also host a collection emphasizing international pieces. The collection will include 500 Kimono, or traditional Japanese gowns, a recent private donation of about 300 textile and clothing pieces from Central and South Asia and a set of about 20 antique chairs.

Staff writer Alison Kent can be reached at

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