Hands on Japan
The Field Museum's 3,500-piece Boone Collection
is once again getting showcased, thanks to two University scholars.
Last summer Jim Ketelaar, AM’82, PhD’87 (right), history
professor and director of the Center for East Asian Studies, approached
art-history instructor Hans Thomsen (left), who specializes in Japanese
works, with the idea of building an interdisciplinary seminar around
the artifacts, which are available for academic use. There were
two exhibitions of the collection in the early
1990s and Boone internships within the museum have been ongoing.
Gilbert E. Boone and his wife Katharine acquired the items during
a three-year tour of duty in Japan. There the Boones got serious
about East Asian art, studying with one of Japan’s leading
dealer-consultants. Looking to put their collection to educational
use in the States, they moved to Illinois and helped Monmouth College
establish an East Asian studies program. Commander Boone held classes
at home, grabbing pieces off shelves during seminars. The Boones
donated the collection to the Field Museum over a number of years,
with the last gift given by Katherine.
with the Field, Ketelaar and Thomsen now plan to take Commander
Boone’s hands-on approach. In their spring 2005 class and
Smart Museum exhibition, “Objects of Japanese History: The
Boone Project,” Thomsen says, “We will have the students
handle the objects. They get to deal with the objects instead of
ignoring them, talking about them in a distant way, or showing them
on slides. They’ll be right there.”—S.I.A.