The Stark Museum

Even as a little girl, I have already been fascinated by museums.  It must have been the nerd in me.  And whenever my Mom and I travelled, we always try our best to get to know the country or city we are visiting by joining tours, which almost always includes a museum stop.

Unforunately, hubby doesn’t quite share the same fascination with museums.  Well, maybe it depends on what kind.  Now that I’ve given it some thought, we have so far visited only 2 museums in Texas, one in Austin and another one in San Antonio.   That’s a realy shame because Texas has plenty.

Four hours away from where we live is Orange, Texas, home of Stark Museum of Art.  It boasts of having fine collections of American Western Art.  In fact, it is considered as one of the most important in the US.  The museum started of as a vision of the mother and son tandem of Miriam Lutcher Stark and H.J. Lutcher Stark.  Both were passionate and eager collectors of art, furniture and decorative items around the world.  H.J. Stark was specially interested in nature and art depicting American west.  One other thing that mother and son shared was the dream of someday having a museum where their collections will be displayed.

The Stark Museum’s collections are divided into four:  Western Art, American Indian Art, Decorative Arts & Rare Books and Manuscripts.  The Western Art collection is a showcase of 19th to 20th century interpretation of the western region.  Objects created by members of the tribes of the Great Plains, Southwest, Eastern Woodlands, and Northwest Coast are displayed in the American Indian Art collection.  The Decorative Arts collection primarily showcases glass and porcelain, which includes the only complete set of “The United States in Crystal” from the Steuben Glass.  The Rare Books and Manuscripts collection’s prized publication is “The Birds of America” by John James Audubon and is regarded as one of the finest illustrated books of all time.

The museum was built by the Stark Foundation under the direction of H.J. Lutcher Stark’s wife, Nelda, after H.J.’s death in 1965.  The Stark Foundation was founded by husband and wife and it’s main objective was to enrich the quality of life in South East Texas through education and the arts.

When we find ourselves in Orange, Texas, The Stark Museum will definitely be in our list of places to visit.


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