The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art (MGMoA), at 1900 W. MacArthur in Shawnee, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
MGMoA Curator of Collections Delaynna Trim said in the early 1900s Fr. Gregory Gerrer started collecting for a museum in Oklahoma while he was in Europe training to be an artist.
She said he saw these wondrous museums across Europe and wanted to bring the world to Oklahoma.
“The collection started small — a few magnificent paintings, samples of woods and seashells collected from across the world and ethnographic objects from a variety of cultures,” Trim said. “The collection continued to grow with his travels and with the people he would meet.”
By 1914, she said the collection was well on its way in his studio behind St. Benedict’s Church where he was an assistant pastor.
“He would tell people of his dream to bring art and culture to Oklahoma, and they would give him their treasured art and artifacts for this great museum,” Trim said. “By 1919, the collection had grown beyond his studio, so he moved it to the newly built Benedictine Hall at the St. Gregory’s campus.”
Artwork hung in the hallways and the artifacts were displayed on the second floor, she said.
Unlike many art museums, the Gerrer Museum as it was called then, was never the collection of a wealthy individual. Fr. Gerrer always collected for a museum for the people of Oklahoma.
After Gerrer passed away in 1946, there was not a director of the museum until 1957 when Stephen Gyermek was asked to take the post. The Gerrer Museum was officially reopened Jan. 12, 1958.
For more information, visit mgmoa.org or call (405) 878-5300.
Information compiled from the MGMoA website.