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The William R. and Clarice V. Spurlock Museum at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Previous Exhibits

South Asian Seams: Quilts from India, Pakistan & Bangladesh

(February 17, 2015 - August 1, 2015)

Quiltmaking is an integral and vital part of South Asian culture. Much the same as here in the West, quilts serve both functional and symbolic purposes. They provide warmth as well as a comfortable place to sit; and they also commemorate special occasions and tell the stories of the lives of their makers. The seams that bring together different pieces of fabric in a quilt also represent the seams that bring together this vast region—its people, its cultures, and its shared tradition of extraordinary textiles. This exhibition is made possible through funding from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation and the Nebraska Humanities Council & Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

East Meets Midwest: The Dawn of the China-Illinois Educational Exchange

(January 20, 2015 - June 21, 2015)

For over a century, the University of Illinois has played a critical role in the promotion of educational exchange with China. UI President Edmund James (1904-1920) was a leader in the movement to open US universities to Chinese students in 1905-06, when US policy toward China was very restrictive in this area. This exhibit tells the story of how James’ vision led the University of Illinois to become one of the most significant destinations for Chinese students during the early decades of the 20th century.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Artists of the Loom - Exhibit Photo

Artists of the Loom: Maya Weavers of Guatemala

(September 16, 2014 - January 25, 2015)

This exhibit celebrates not only the artistry and endurance of the Maya weaving tradition but also the cultural intelligence and creative force of the weavers themselves. More than 90 textiles coming from 32 highland towns are presented, each textile woven in a style that identifies the town of its weaver and the wearer. Exhibit areas address the links between the living and ancient Maya, the weaver and the backstrap loom, textiles for daily wear, the art of the traditional Maya blouse, or huipil, ceremonial cloths and clothing, and evidence of evolution in textile designs.

The Spurlock Museum’s changing exhibits are made possible through a gift from Allan C. and Marlene S. Campbell and supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Sacred Symbols - Exhibit Photo

Sacred Symbols in Sequins: Haitian Vodou Flags

(April 6, 2014 - August 10, 2014)

For many Americans, the term Vodou brings up unfortunate, Hollywood-inspired imagery involving hexes and curses, but visitors to Sacred Symbols in Sequins will gain new insights to the beauty and sanctity of Haitian Vodou. This exhibit features 16 vintage Haitian Vodou flags (drapo Vodou) from a rarely seen private collection. Six sparkling Vodou libation bottles and eight portraits of contemporary Vodou practitioners by renowned photographer Phyllis Galembo provide a context for these dazzling sequin- and bead-encrusted ceremonial banners.

The exhibit is a program of Exhibits USA, a national Division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Exhibit Overview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Inspired By... - Exhibit Photo

Inspired By...

(August 20, 2013 - March 9, 2014)

The Spurlock Museum celebrates creativity, inspiration, and fiberworking in this unique exhibit. Representing an intensive, three-year collaboration with the C-U Spinners and Weavers Guild, the exhibit combines Museum artifacts, some not displayed for decades, with original Guild member artworks they have inspired. The exhibit will include video interviews with the artists and insights into their creative journey through notes and design booklets.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Demonstration Day (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Unconventional Bond: The Strange Life of Casino Royale on Film

(April 16, 2013 - June 16, 2013)

Unlike all the other Bond novels, which were sold to a single company, Eon Productions, for filming, Casino Royale went through several producers and was made into three startlingly different films. This exhibit tells the story of these three versions, from the modest CBS-TV production in 1954, to the bizarre, psychedelic spoof of 1967, to the "canonical" 2006 Daniel Craig version, considered one of the best Bond films. We also trace the legal path that led to Never Say Never Again, a second version of Thunderball, and look at the never-produced Bond script, Warhead. Props, scripts, posters and an Aston Martin will be displayed.

Exhibit Preview (news) | James Bond Expert John Cork (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

From Protest to Peace - Exhibit Photo

From Protest to Peace

(March 5, 2013 - June 16, 2013)

In 1994, brothers Tom and William Kelly and their friend Kevin Hasson joined together as The Bogside Artists. Having personally experienced the unfolding of the Northern Irish “Troubles,” they united to express the struggle for civil rights in their community through public art. While the group continues the Ulster tradition of using the mural for social commentary, the Bogside Artists stand alone in their efforts to utilize this medium in cross-community workshops involving Protestants and Catholics to advance the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland.

Working with the artists, the Georgia Southern University Museum, along with faculty curators from the Center for Irish Studies and the University Honors Program, developed this traveling exhibition. Murals created by the Bogside Artists are featured along with a series of interpretive panels that provides a balanced presentation of the history and politics of Northern Ireland. This exhibit is on loan from the Georgia Southern University Museum.

From Protest to Peace and its associated special events are made possible in part by gifts from Dr. Allan C. and Marlene S. Campbell and the Spurlock Museum Guild, and it is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

A World of Shoes

(September 4, 2012 - February 10, 2013)

When you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you understand that person better. Your relationship becomes as comfortable as an old shoe, and you find yourself spending time together kicking up your heels. Around the world, footwear is an integral part of the human perspective. It may tell you a person’s values, status, occupation, or favorite hobbies at a glance. Wouldn’t it feel great to travel the world in a variety of new shoes—and never get a blister? You bet your boots. A World of Shoes and its associated special events are made possible in part by gifts from Dr. Allan C. and Marlene S. Campbell and the Spurlock Museum Guild, and it is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Be a Part of a World of Shoes (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Carnival - Exhibit Photo


(April 6, 2012 - August 11, 2012)

For all participants—rich or poor, young or old— Carnival provides the opportunity to play by leaving the everyday world, becoming someone else, and behaving in unusual ways. Through artifacts, interactive opportunities, and dazzling photographs, this exhibition provides information on the origins and evolution of this celebration, as well as windows into eight communities in Europe and the Americas where Carnival is a high point of the yearly cycle.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Warriors, Guardians, and Demons - Exhibit Photo

Warriors, Guardians, and Demons

(June 28, 2011 - February 26, 2012)

An important part of our Centennial Celebration is honoring the many generous people who have supported the Museum through the donation of artifacts. This lobby exhibit features a selection from the large collection of Asian carvings donated by Mr. Fred A. Freund.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Collecting and Connecting - Exhibit Photo

Collecting and Connecting: One Hundred Years at the Spurlock Museum

(February 20, 2011 - February 26, 2012)

The museum celebrates 100 years of collecting—gathering artifacts and the knowledge that surrounds them—and connecting—relating people, artifacts, information, and ideas to one another. We sketch the story of the museum over its history, providing glimpses of the collections, individuals, and events that shaped its growth.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Siyazama - Exhibit Photo

Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Education, and AIDS in South Africa

(August 17, 2010 - January 9, 2011)

Throughout the world art has long been used as a tool for cultural, social, and economic change. In South Africa many educators and activists used performing and visual arts in the successful anti-apartheid movement. Now arts are being used there to educate individuals about the realities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This exhibition explores how traditional knowledge and skills are used to address contemporary issues in South Africa. It showcases the Siyazama (Zulu for "we are trying") Project, an arts education project based in KwaZulu Natal which uses traditional crafts to raise awareness about AIDS. Over 100 pieces in this exhibit - including indigenous traditional art forms such as beadwork, dollmaking, basketry and wirework - reveal how South African artists are using their work to educate others as well as to cope with the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in their own lives and communities.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Korean Funerary Figures - Exhibit Photo
The Korean Society logo

Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World

(March 2, 2010 - July 11, 2010)

Organized by The Korea Society, New York City

In nineteenth and early twentieth century Korea, artisans carved joyful wooden figurines depicting acrobats, clowns and mystical animals (kokdu) to place on the funeral biers of the departed. In their first exhibition in the US, a collection of 72 kokdu reflect the realities of rural Korean village life during a period that left few written records and open a window on a timeless, characteristically Korean attitude towards death.

Exhibit Preview (news) | The Korea Society (external link) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea - Exhibit Photo

The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea

(September 1, 2009 - January 1, 2010)

Papua New Guinea, a Pacific Island nation-state, is home to a remarkable diversity of grand artistic traditions. This exhibition, featuring artifacts from the Museum's own collections, explores the arts of several regions and illustrates over half a century of change in design, media, and audience. Of special significance is discussioin of artistic developments sparked by the country's independence in 1975.

Exhibit Preview (news) | The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea (online resource) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Children Just Like Me - Exhibit Photo

Children Just Like Me

(September 27, 2008 - May 3, 2009)

Children Just Like Me is an engaging, hands-on exhibit that invites young museum visitors to learn about the diversity of world cultures by meeting peers who live in different countries around the globe. In addition, this unique exhibit also reveals how many children, regardless of where they live, hold important aspects of life in common.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Calypso Music in Postwar America: Photographs and Illustrations, 1945-1960 - Exhibit Photo

Calypso Music in Postwar America: Photographs and Illustrations, 1945-1960

(March 25, 2008 - August 10, 2008)

Calypso Music in Postwar America explores the major impact of Trinidadian calypso on the popular culture of the United States between 1945 and 1960. Rare photographs and promotional graphics are used to trace calypso in phonograph recordings, song publishing, nightclub acts, concerts, Broadway shows and Hollywood movies.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Kaqchikel Maya Weavings - Exhibit Photo

Qak'aslem, Qakem: Kaqchikel Maya Weavings

(March 25, 2008 - June 8, 2008)

Three Maya woven textiles, each piece representing a different village in the Kaqchikel-speaking region of Guatemala, are featured in this exhibit of recent acquisitions. One of these pieces, a po't (shirt) of brilliant flowers, is a commissioned work, woven for the Museum by Magda Silvia Sotz Mux of San Juan Comalapa.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Ancient Egypt: The Origins - Exhibit Photo

Ancient Egypt: The Origins

(September 25, 2007 - February 24, 2008)

Some of the most fundamental and fascinating aspects of the ancient Egyptian civilization can only be understood by looking deep into Egypt's past. Hallmarks of Egyptian culture - from pyramids and hieroglyphic writing to the belief in the afterlife and fervent nationalism - can be traced in an unbroken line back to Egypt's earliest periods. this exhibition explores the prehistoric Nile Valley and illustrates the origins of ancient Egypt through its material culture. "Ancient Egypt: The Origins" features artifacts on loan by the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibit is supported in part by the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. The exhibit is curated by Douglas Brewer.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Uncovering Life's Third Domain: The Discovery of Archaea - Exhibit Photo

Uncovering Life's Third Domain: The Discovery of Archaea

(November 1, 2007 - January 27, 2008)

This exhibit showcases some of the original tools used by Professor Carl R. Woese, 2003 recipient of the Crafoord Prize, and the team of scientists at the University of Illinois-Champaign who conducted groundbreaking work in the use of molecular signatures to map the evolutionary history of life. The work of this team led, eventually, to the discovery of the Archaea, the third domain of life.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Why Knot? -  Exhibit Photo

Why Knot?

(March 27, 2007 - August 26, 2007)

For at least 20,000 years, human beings have manipulated fibers of many kinds to construct objects that are highly diverse in form and function. In Why Knot? the Spurlock Museum celebrates these artifacts and the skilled craftspeople who create them.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Why Knot? (online resource) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Where Animals Dance - Exhibit Photo

Where Animals Dance

(September 14, 2006 - March 4, 2007)

Where Animals Dance is a discussion of contemporary masquerading traditions of West Africa, featuring masks and related shrine artifacts and focusing on the place of these traditions in belief, social structure, and daily life. The ethnicities being discussed include Bamana, Baga, Nuna, Toma, and Bobo. The exhibit also includes discussion of the Ciwara complex, age sets, secret societies, and initiation practices.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Rainforest Visions - Exhibit Photo

Rainforest Visions

(February 28, 2006 - August 20, 2006)

This exhibition focuses on artistic representations by contemporary South American indigenous people of ecological, mythical, and cosmic spirit forces in their lives. The focal people whose myths and narratives provide the basis for the imagery are the Canelos Quichua of Amazonian Ecuador. Complementary artifacts come from the Achuar, Tigua, and Chachi of Ecuador, the Shipibo-Conibo of Peru, the Waounam and Emberá of Colombia and Panama, the Tukuna of Colombia and Brazil, and the Yekuana of Venezuela.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Visions of the Unseen - Exhibit PHoto

Visions of the Unseen: Picturing Balinese Ceremony and Myth

(September 13, 2005 - February 4, 2006)

Explore a collection of paintings and sculptures that reveals the link between an invisible world of gods and demons and the visible world of Balinese people, ceremony, and everyday life.

Performance Highlight (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Digging Barbarians - Exhibit Photo

Digging Barbarians

(March 8, 2005 - August 1, 2005)

Historians talk about the "decline and fall" of the Roman Empire. But during the chaotic period between 400 and 500 CE, the line between Roman and barbarian were often blurred. Learn more about this interesting period of history in the exhibit Digging Barbarians, located in the Museum's Gallery of European Cultures. The exhibit focuses on life in early medieval France with highlighted artifacts from the Museum's extensive collection from this period.

Exhibit Opening (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Photograph of Following the Paper Trail - Exhibit Photo

Following the Paper Trail from China to the World

(January 18, 2005 - July 30, 2005)

Paper is integral to every aspect of human life. Following the Paper Trail from China to the World tracks paper from its invention in China to its modern uses around the world.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

A Celebration of Souls: Day of the Dead in Southern Mexico - Exhibit Photo

A Celebration of Souls: Day of the Dead in Southern Mexico

(September 18, 2004 - December 30, 2004)

This colorful bilingual exhibition examines the complex and rich histories of honoring the dead in ancient Mesoamerica, the labor of love involved in these diverse rituals, and the spiritual importance of this holiday in rural Mexico today.

Exhibit Preview (news) | Dance Performances (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Illinois: and Epic Landscape - Exhibit Photo

Illinois: An Epic Landscape

(July 10, 2004 - August 28, 2004)

The exhibit Illinois: An Epic Landscape highlights the stunning array of biological diversity found in Illinois, and targets the unique Cache River basin.

Exhibit Opening (news) | Natural History Activity Day (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Powwow Exhibit Photo - Exhibit Photo

The American Indian Center of Chicago Celebrates 50 Years of Powwow

(January 27, 2004 - June 26, 2004)

Through images, videos, and artifacts, the exhibit highlights the vibrant sights and sounds of this American Indian arts and culture celebration.

Exhibit Opening (news) | Exhibit Conclusion (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Korean Dolls - Exhibit Photo

Korean Dolls: A Celebration of Life

(November 12, 2003 - March 31, 2004)

Korean dollmakers come together each year to display their unique creations: vibrant, mulberry paper dolls fashioned to depict important events and scenes of everyday life. This exhibit displays the creations of Soon Oak Kim, whose dolls have been shown throughout Korea.

Exhibit Opening (news) | Korean Dollmaking Demonstration (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Kimono - Exhibit Photo

Luxurious Layers: Kimonos of the Heian Court

(September 27, 2003 - December 15, 2003)

The sense of Heian style and color are beautifully reflected in the multi-layered kimono worn by members of the Court. Kimono creation and symbolism, court life, and the modern continuation of kimono traditions are topics discussed among the layers of wondrous silk on display.

Exhibit Photo Gallery

Beethoven - Exhibit Photo

Beethoven and the Creative Process

(March 29, 2003 - May 4, 2003)

This exhibit illuminates this extraordinary creative process through first edition scores and sketches from a major work, the Missa solemnis. A lock of the composer's hair will also be on display.

Exhibit Opening (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Bronze Age - Exhibit Photo

Trading in the Bronze Age

(January 21, 2003 - September 10, 2003)

This exhibit discusses sea trade among the cultures of the Mediterranean and highlights the archaeological work that has uncovered material evidence for this era of history.

Exhibit Opening (news) | Exhibit Closing (news) | Exhibit Photo Gallery

Brass Rubbings - Exhibit Photo

The Horowitz Collection of Memorial Brass Rubbings

(September 26, 2002 - December 20, 2002)

Starting early in the 13th century, the wealthy of England began using brass engravings as grave markers. The images in this exhibit take their name, brass rubbings, from the process of rubbing wax against paper placed over the original brasses, and provide a visual record of 350 years of these engravings.

Exhibit Photo Gallery