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Original Source

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.

Navy Commander 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.

In cooperation 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.

photo:  coursework
photo:  coursework
Courtesy Hans Thomsen



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