Published: March 29, 2013

Largest gift honors museum legend

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Gary Morgan MSU Museum office: (517) 355-2370

The Michigan State University Museum will use a $1.9 million gift – the largest in the museum’s history – to establish its first endowed curatorship.

“The Berryman MSU Museum Curator of History Endowment established by Julie Avery, Stephen Stier and Val Berryman” will create a new curator for the museum’s historical collections. It will be funded with gifts from the estates of donors. Berryman died in January after serving nearly 50 years as curator of history for the MSU Museum, which is Michigan’s leading public natural and cultural history museum.

Avery recently retired from the museum, where she held several positions, including assistant curator of history; curator of rural life and culture; director of education; and acting museum director. Stier has held a research associate position with the history and folk arts units of the museum since 1995, focusing mainly on traditional building trades.

“This is a fantastic gift that will ensure the museum’s historical programs are strong and vibrant into the future,” said Gary Morgan, director of MSU Museum. “There is no better way for Val’s name to be remembered.”

Berryman was instrumental in the development of museum historical collections, which have been featured in museum exhibitions, loaned to other institutions and used by students, faculty and visiting scholars, Morgan said. He also presented numerous public programs and worked with museums across the state as a professional resource for museum and historical societies.

The museum announced the Berryman endowment on March 28 during the official opening of Berryman’s final exhibition at the MSU Museum, “Adventures in Time and the 3rd Dimension: Through the Stereoscope.”

Featuring photographs from Berryman’s personal collection, the exhibit explores 3D photography history, technology, pop culture and future directions.

The new endowment is the third for the museum’s historical collections. In 2012, an anonymous donor established a planned gift endowment to provide support for the purchase of museum objects for the cultural history collection. In 2002, Avery and Stier established the “Avery, Kimes and Stier History Endowment” to support history projects and activity.

Val Berryman died in January after serving nearly 50 years as a MSU Museum curator. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

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