Collecting Conversations more than art exhibition

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, August 17, 2016

By Dawn Burleigh


A new exhibition has opened at the Stark Museum of Art called Collecting Conversations. The exhibit is more than displaying pieces of art but an insight to the Stark family while discovering why persons collect certain objects.

“It is about the reasons why people collect,” Katherine Berry, assistant collections manager, said. “We use the Starks as a case study.”

According to the exhibit, there are four reasons a person collects:

  • Aesthetics
  • History
  • Knowledge
  • Personality

The exhibit explores each of the reasons with examples from Frances Ann Robinson Lutcher, (1841-1924) Miriam Melissa Lutcher Stark, (1859-1936) and by Henry Jacob Lutcher Stark (1887-1965) collections.

While exploring the assortments on display, the items shed a light on the personalities of the three family members. Many pieces, from the Stark Family Papers, Stark Foundation Library & Archive, are on display for the first time as well as some on loan from the W.H. Stark House.

The exhibition also features two loaned books from the Miriam Lutcher Stark Library, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin: A first edition King James Bible c. 1611 and Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies. Published according to the true original copies.

“Frances Ann Lutcher collected to decorate her home,” Berry said. “Miram Lutcher Stark was influenced by her mother. We are able to tell they collected together.”

The younger Stark also started collected for a larger purpose for a museum and for making donations such as to The University of Texas, according to Berry.

One may tour the exhibit alone or with a guide. To help understand collecting more, the exhibit also offers an interactive video as well as an option to select how to display the collections using laminated cards at the end of the exhibit. The videos of staff members help explain what is referred to as art.

With pictures of Henry Jacob Lutcher Stark college room, and the actual textile on display next to the enlarged photograph, one is able to see the family in a unique way.

A collection of eggheads, each one commissioned, represents famous persons throughout history.

“I really enjoyed setting up the display for the egg heads,” Berry said. “I tried grouping them in ways to make it more fun for the guests.”

Along side the eggheads are rarely seen whimsical Toby Mugs from the archives.

A Toby Jug is a figural ceramic pitcher modeled in the form of a popular character, historical, fictional or generic. It can be a person or animal. The original Tobies date back to the 1760’s. The first Tobies, made in the form of a seated jovial, stout man dressed in the attire of the period, wearing a tri-corn hat, puffing on a pipe and holding a mug of ale (stingo), are referred to as “Ordinary Tobies,” according to

Admission to the Stark Museum of Art is currently free until September 3, 2016, as part of a free summer admission program for Stark Museum of Art and Shangri La Gardens.

Stark Museum of Art is located at 712 Green Avenue in Orange, Texas, and is open
Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit