Drums usher in Spurlock’s centennial

The Spurlock Museum marked its 100th anniversary Friday and celebrated the centennial Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

In 1911, the University Board of Trustees created a pair of museums: one of classical cultures and one of European cultures, said Kim Sheahan, the assistant director of education at the Spurlock


Since then, the two museums expanded and moved from Lincoln Hall into their own building under a single name: The Spurlock Museum.

Wayne Pitard, the director of the museum, said its creation was former University President Edmund James’ idea and that its current exhibits would make him very happy.

“He felt it was important for the University to have museums to introduce other cultures to students here,” Pitard said. “He strongly advocated international understanding … so we opened up here (in) 2002, and we have exhibits dealing with five other continents of the world. It generally is a world’s cultures museum which would make President James … very proud of what this museum has become over the century.”

Pitard added that the Spurlock Museum is planning on expanding its current exhibits and adding additional galleries to further showcase the international regions on display.

“We actually got an expansion campaign that we will be beginning over the next year,” Pitard added. “Our idea is to increase the number of cultures that we can introduce people to.”

For the birthday celebration, the Spurlock Museum had five stations for people to enjoy.

One station was a food tent where people could have birthday treats from different countries, including Australian fairy bread, Korean candy, Egyptian sesame sticks and all kinds of beverages.

Another station was for children to play games at the European culture section of the museum and at the Asian culture one. Children could also decorate birthday cards to congratulate Spurlock on its 100th birthday.

At 1 and 2 p.m., the museum organized a Japanese drum performance called Taiko drumming in the auditorium, which was an addition to the museum exhibit “Warriors, Guardians and Demons.”

Then, at 3 p.m., there was a storytelling section about Japanese legends and stories by local performer Dan Keding.

Sheahan said the Spurlock Museum has been planning the event for four years.

“(The planning) included not only a year’s worth of events,” Sheahan said. “A lot of things had to come together and it took a long time to do it … So, we are really glad that we started early.”

Attendee Karen Barnes, of Champaign, said the event provided a way for families to enjoy their time together.

“It is really great,” Barnes said. “It is a great event and we were excited hearing about it.”

Sheahan said the museum’s survival over the years was possible due to people’s support.

“It is a wonderful thing,” Sheahan said. “In fact, over the years there have been good amounts of money and bad amounts of money, but we have survived a lot of it because of friends like people who are here today.”