Walking past the lobos statue during your short cut through Damen each morning shouldn’t be your only encounter with Loyola’s Jesuit heritage. Students can learn a lot more than just how to say wolves in Spanish.
The fantastic Jesuit exploration of the Midwest is available to students and the community at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA). With the help of 318 artifacts on loan from 17 organizations, Crossings and Dwellings commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Jesuit Restoration, 100 years of women’s education and the 75th anniversary of the completion of Madonna della Strada chapel.
“There is something for everyone,” LUMA’s senior curator Jonathan Canning said.
Canning said the museum will interest people who enjoy learning about Chicago history, European exploration of the Midwest, Native American history, European art and more.
The exhibit gives a brief history of the 18th century Jesuit banishment and global suppression by the Pope to their 1814 restoration. The exhibit also explores the foundation of St. Ignatius College and Mundelein College, the latter served as a women’s college until 1991. Finally, the exhibit depicts the construction of Madonna della Strada.
Approximately 30 students and six staff members worked to create Crossings and Dwellings. The exhibit is open until Oct. 19.
Paulina Murphy and her daughter Lynn Brayton said they were visiting Chicago from New Orleans and saw the signs outside LUMA advertising the exhibit. Intrigued, the mother and daughter duo wandered in.
Murphy said her favorite part was the Willem Blaeu globes because of the amazing detail. Brayton said visitors should get a guided tour of the exhibit because it gives more meaning to the artifacts.
Most of LUMA’s visitors happen upon LUMA like Murphy and Brayton did, according to Canning. However, Crossings and Dwellings hasn’t drawn in people as much as some past exhibits, such as the Edward Gorey exhibit from spring 2014.
“What we’ve realized about exhibits here is that if they don’t have a [recognizable] name, we don’t get an audience,” Canning said. “Crossings and Dwellings doesn’t resonate to the public walking by.”
Canning said he is not sure how many people have visited the exhibit, which opened July 19, but that it is definitely one of their worst-attended shows so far in its opening.
“It’s a hard exhibit to promote because if you say it’s a celebration of the bicentenary of the restoration of the Jesuits, you’ve already lost people, but there is so much here,” Canning said. “Almost anyone walking in is going to find something that interests them. Crossings and Dwellings, unless we make all the undergraduates come through, is not going to be as well-attended. ”
The problem Canning described was the difficulty of marketing a title that he said fit the exhibit perfectly.
Father Stephen Schloesser proposed the idea of the exhibit and named it. He said he realized in spring 2012 that the bicentennial of the Jesuit restoration would fall on Aug. 7. He approached the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage and suggested commemorating it with a conference which will take place Oct. 16-19. He then discovered at a meeting that the Midwest Jesuit Archives has preserved many Jesuit artifacts. That’s when he approached LUMA.
“One of the most important conclusions I arrived at after all the work is that this is a wonderful exemplar of what a university museum is capable of doing,” Schloesser said.
Historical and classical civilization graduate Sarah Muenzer was one of the students who worked with Crossing and Dwellings. She advises current Loyolans to just go digging in the libraries because that is where many of the novels on display at the exhibits were found. The 22-year-old catalogued about 200 novels and manuscripts during a yearlong internship with the university library.
Muenzer and other students, faculty and staff have organized and preserved the artifacts they found, even putting pictures of them on Flickr so other professionals can lend their knowledge in identifying where each piece came from.
“I found it really rewarding because I’m so into history,” Muenzer said.
One example of Muenzer’s findings is a physics book that belonged to a student who graduated in St. Ignatius College’s first graduating class. St. Ignatius will later become Loyola University and St. Ignatius College Prep. They also found a Civil War era book owned by a pastor.
Crossings and Dwellings is open until Oct. 19 at LUMA (820 N. Michigan Ave.).