Harvest Supper Offers Rare Way to Enjoy Rowan Oak

harvest-supperIt was a perfect October night—cool, but not cold, with all the energy and optimism of a Thursday night of a football weekend in Oxford. Lights in the trees, wildflowers on the farm tables, music in the air, a cocktail in the hand:  it was the first annual Harvest Supper on the grounds of Rowan Oak, presented by the Friends of the Museum.

Catered by star-on-the-rise chef Elizabeth Heiskell, the serving tables were bountiful with delectable seasonal dishes, each better than the last, and all prepared with local produce donated by nearby Woodson Ridge Farm. Candlelight and jazz by Alphonso Sanders & Friends warmed the night air.  It was a wonderful celebration of the Museum and its new director, Robert Saarnio, and of friends from Oxford, from around Mississippi, and beyond.

“It was a magical night … Everyone had a fabulous time enjoying Rowan Oak in such a rare and intimate way, all while raising important funds for the Museum.”

—Friends president, Dorothy Howorth

But the star of the evening was Rowan Oak. Enjoying a drink and hors d’oeuvres on the front lawn, where Mr. Faulkner served his guests cocktails and dined on the side lawns, where he frequently entertained, Harvest Supper guests developed a new and even more personal affection for this beloved landmark.

“It was a magical night,” says Friends president, Dorothy Howorth. “Everyone had a fabulous time enjoying Rowan Oak in such a rare and intimate way, all while raising important funds for the Museum. People keep asking me when we’re going to do it again!”  And, in fact, the second annual Harvest Supper will be on October 10, 2013, so mark your calendars.

Tickets will be available from the Museum in mid-September. As before, proceeds from the 2013 Harvest Supper will support education, exhibitions, and acquisitions at the University Museum and Historic Houses. Details will be posted on the Friends’ page at museum.olemiss.edu/friends.

New Books, New Displays, New Memories


Faulkner in his library by Henri Cartier-Bresson

On July 6, 1962, the world lost one of its great literary luminaries, William Faulkner. Luckily, his works continue to entertain and inspire readers, while Rowan Oak gives the public the opportunity to live with Mr. Faulkner, if only for an hour. Last summer’s 2012 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference theme, “Fifty Years after Faulkner,” honored the great author’s legacy.

There are two new books commemorating William Faulkner’s life. Above the Treetops by Jack Sacco, chronicles William Faulkner and Bobby Little’s friendship. Hardback copies are currently on sale in the Museum Store. The second book, Every Day by the Sun by Dean Faulkner Wells is out in paperback. Curator of Rowan Oak, Bill Griffith, describes it as “[one of] the most humane treatments of the Faulkner family yet written,” a true essential for any Faulkner fan.

Rowan Oak has installed two new display cases. One case is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of William Faulkner’s passing with letters from Tom Brokaw and William Styron, while the second case contains two photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson.



Also, the new film adaptation of As I Lay Dying, directed by James Franco, is sure to spark a new interest in one of the South’s most beloved authors. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for this year’s Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference
July 21–25, 2013. Our new volunteers, Martha Huckins and Rebecca McDouglad, are happy to inform visitors about Mississippi’s favorite author, so beat the crowds and come visit Rowan Oak.



On Loan


Untitled. Gift of Helen Tudor Robinson

The Orpheus Relief Project is a collaboration between the Georgia Museum of Art and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia and the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses. The project involves the public exhibition and interdisciplinary study of an important but little-known marble relief sculpture with possible vestiges of ancient painting.  This exciting endeavor uses cutting-edge technology of hyperspectral imaging to illuminate the painting and other microscopic materials on the relief’s sculpted surfaces. The Orpheus Relief returns to the Museum at the end of April 2013.


Hamblett Hill, 1965. Bequest of Theora Hamblett

From March 23-June 23, 2013, Symbols of Faith, Life and Beyond:
The Art of Theora Hamblett will be on exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art on loan from the University of Mississippi Museum. This exhibition highlights all three of Theora Hamblett’s collections: Old Home Memories, Childhood Games, and Dreams and Visions. We are very excited to share one of our prized artists and collections with broader audiences.

New Grants

The UM Museum is honored to be awarded the following
grants and designation during the 2012–2013 year.

• Conservation Assessment Program from Heritage Preservation

• National Recreation Trail Designation from the Department of the US Interior

• Project Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission

• Programming Grant for NEH On the Road from the National Endowment for the Humanities

• MAC Minigrant from the Mississippi Arts Commission


Blue Star Museums


This summer, the University of Mississippi Museum along with 1,800 museums nationwide participates in Blue Star Museums, a program of the National Endowment of the Arts offering free museum admission to military families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Blue Star Museums enables American communities to thank our military families for their service and sacrifice to our country by inviting them to enjoy the best of American culture.


Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) Grant


(Left to Right) Marti Funke, Robert Saarnio, Kathrine Singley, and Michael Emrick

The University of Mississippi Museum received a grant to be a part of the Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) overseen by Heritage Preservation. CAP assists museums by providing funds for professional conservation and preservation specialists to identify the conservation needs of their collections and historic structures and recommend ways to improve collections and building conditions. Professional conservators spent two days surveying the site and three days preparing comprehensive reports identifying conservation priorities. The reports will assist the Museum in making appropriate improvements for the immediate and long-range care of its collections and historic structures.


Volunteer spotlight: Joel Wright, AmeriCorps VISTA


Americorps VISTA, Joel Wright, packs up a Traveling Trunk

The UM Museum benefits greatly from the generosity of its volunteers and celebrates the dedicated service of Joel Wright. Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Joel graduated from Hendrix College in 2005 with a B.A. in History and Education. Before obtaining his Master’s degree, he taught high school for four years in the Arkansas Delta and Holly Springs, MS. Joel graduated last May at the University of Mississippi with a Master’s in History with an emphasis on 20th Century K-12 Education and Race.

He is currently the AmeriCorps VISTA at the Museum where he has been working alongside Curator of Education, Emily Dean. He focuses on the Outreach programs, especially the Traveling Trunks.  Joel states, “I have tried to bring my experience as a school teacher to expand our program to include more options for middle school/junior high students, and to create new long term partnerships for bringing art into the surrounding communities, like we have with an afterschool group in Como, MS.”

Joel has taken up the tedious responsibility of writing grants on behalf of the Museum and has already been awarded his first grant, a Mississippi Arts Commission Minigrant, to send Emily Dean to the National Art Education Association Conference in Fort Worth, TX. Thank you, Joel, for devoted commitment of service to the Museum and the community!


Museum’s Annual Membership Party


Totem. Alvin Jarrett.
Promised Gift of Vikki Hughes and Price Johnson

A highly festive mood prevailed on the evening of Thursday, October 11, 2012, when members of the Oxford community and University leaders gathered for the Museum’s annual Members’ Party, which celebrated recent gifts of artwork to the Museum’s permanent collection. Newly arrived Museum Director, Robert Saarnio, and Museum staff were on hand to greet guests. The evening showcased the exhibition, Gifted Visions: Recent Gifts to the Permanent Collection. The exhibit featured work by acclaimed artists such as Mary T. Smith, Alyne Harris, Andrew Bucci, Marie Hull, Glennray Tutor, and William Dunlap.

“From its inception, the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses have flourished due to the generous support of the Oxford community and individuals wishing to share their private collections with a larger audience,” said Emily Dean, Curator of Education. “These recent gifts are a tremendous addition to our permanent collection, which will be an invaluable resource for learners of all ages for years to come.”

The donors of art included:

Louis E. Dollarhide and
Betty  Z.  Harrington,  Elizabeth  Dollarhide,
John Z.  Dollarhide, Louis E. Dollarhide III, Martha C. Dollarhide, David K. Dollarhide, Donna H. Vinson, Vikki Hughes and Price Johnson, A.C. Brown, William Dunlap, UM Chancellor and Mrs. Dan Jones, and Ray Meifert.

“I’m excited to have the Membership Party as my first significant opportunity to acknowledge to museum supporters my great joy in assuming this wonderful position at a most remarkable museum,” Saarnio said. “This celebration of the Museum’s community, and our donors and members, is an annual expression of something we feel every day—immense gratitude to those who transform the University Museum through gifts to the collection and by sustaining us with their membership pledges.”

The UM Museum is indebted to the generosity and continued support of our patrons and donors who believe in the Museum’s mission. We hope you will join us at the next Annual Membership Party in the fall.


Museum Advocate Remembered

museum-advocate-rememberedThe University Museum is deeply saddened to share news of the passing of Elizabeth Cummings Fortune—known to all her Oxford and Ole Miss friends as “Lib.”  She was preceded in death by her husband Porter Lee Fortune Jr., Chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1968 to 1984. She passed away in Atlanta on October 31, 2012.

Lib devoted many years of her time and leadership talents as president of the Friends of the Museum Board and was a tireless champion of not only the Museum but also arts and cultural initiatives across the entire University community. She remained an active supporter of the Museum throughout her life and in 1992 created the Porter and Elizabeth Fortune Endowment in support of Museum acquisitions and priority needs. In 1997 she donated funds to construct the Fortune Gallery to pay tribute to the life of her late husband, Chancellor Fortune. She extended her advocacy to an active concern and support for the Museum’s Walton-Young Historic House.

An enthusiastic and passionate volunteer, Lib gave her time generously. Her vibrant personality continued to inspire others after a move to Atlanta, where she resided in later years.

Lib was born in Ware Shoals, South Carolina, and grew up in High Point, North Carolina. She graduated from the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina and became a benefactor of the school (now known as UNC at Greensboro). She is survived by two sons Philip Lee Fortune and Carey Fortune; her daughter Jean Fortune Kaplan; seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Upon her passing, the Fortune family requested that memorial gifts be made to the University Museum and Historic Houses, in care of the University of Mississippi Foundation. We are profoundly grateful for the family’s thoughtful gesture that extends Lib’s extraordinary legacy. Memorial gifts will be used for purposes congruent with the terms of the Fortune Endowment.

If you would like to contribute in honor of Elizabeth Fortune, contact Michael Upton at the UM Foundation at 662.915.3027 or mupton@olemiss.edu. Gifts also may be made by mailing a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677, noting the Elizabeth Fortune Memorial Gifts, or by visiting www.olemiss.edu/makeagift.


Retired Professor Creates Endowment for Museum Education and Outreach


Mrs. Lynton Dilley and Chancellor Dan Jones

Retired University of Mississippi Education professor Lynton Dilley fondly remembers toting around heavy, military-style footlockers in 1981 when she helped establish one of the campus museum’s first educational outreach programs—what were then called the “Dilley Boxes.”

Dilley, with help from fellow Education professors Cindy Leigh and Peggy Emerson, acquired trunks stocked with hands-on learning materials to create activities for third-graders who toured exhibits at the Museum.

“It started as a modest project we did in our free time,” Dilley said. “I was in charge of placing our elementary education students as teacher aides in the local school systems. This was a way for the University to collaborate with those schools.”

But what started as a small program grew quickly. Today, the Traveling Trunk Program at the Museum sends seven similar boxes with learning materials
and lesson plans to classrooms in surrounding counties. A $25,000 gift from Dilley will help ensure it continues to reach future generations.

During a small ceremony in July at the Museum, Dilley was honored by friends, family, and University leaders for her gift, which created the Dilley Museum Education Endowment to fund educational outreach programs.

“This has been an exceptional year for donations at Ole Miss,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “To me, some of the most special gifts are those that come from our former faculty members who decide they want to give back to continue to support Ole Miss.”
Among the programs the Dilley Endowment will help fund are free outreach programs, such as the Traveling Trunk Program. More than 8,200 children participated in the museum’s educational outreach programs since 2011.


(Left to Right) James Dilley, Larry Dilley, Mrs. Lynton Dilley, and John Dilley

“Mrs. Dilley’s generosity will touch many lives and significantly impact our programming,” said Emily Dean, Curator of Education. “We want to expand our current programs to bring the Museum collections to life for more students of all ages. We will also be able to develop new programs that reach varied audiences. We want to be ambassadors of Mrs. Dilley’s belief in the power of education.”