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Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia receives artwork donation valued at $2 million

February 9, 2018

BIG RAPIDS, Mich., Feb. 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University has received a powerful collection of artwork by noted photographer David Levinthal valued at more than $2 million, pending receipt of appraisal.

The gift, from an anonymous donor, includes 135 large-format Polaroids, primarily from Levinthal’s legendary Blackface series, but complemented with works from his Barbie and Mein Kampf series.

With this donation, it is believed that the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, which is internationally-known for its collection of racist memorabilia, now possesses one of the largest collections of Levinthal’s Blackface originals in the world.

Museum officials have catalogued all of the items and are preparing many for public exhibition. A grand opening event is expected to occur in December.

After being contacted by the donor’s representative, David Pilgrim, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris and founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum, immediately knew the magnitude of the impact this gift would bring to the Museum and all who visit.

“Levinthal’s Blackface series is a blunt, unfiltered rendering of anti-black representations in the objects once—no, still—found in our homes,” Pilgrim said.

“He used his camera to document the ugly representations of African Americans in the toys, games, and dolls played with by this nation’s children. These images both reflected and shaped attitudes toward black people. Levinthal’s prints will be invaluable teaching tools for the Jim Crow Museum,” Pilgrim added.

The Blackface series is a powerful and thought-provoking exhibition of black memorabilia and racist household objects, many of which are currently collected and displayed as part of the Museum’s educational and scholarly mission to use objects of intolerance to examine expressions of racism and promote social justice.

“This wonderful gift to the Jim Crow Museum and Ferris is one of the most significant gifts that we have ever received,” said Ferris President David Eisler.

“This gift reflects Dr. Pilgrim’s internationally-recognized leadership and commitment to educating the public on examining expressions of racism and promoting social justice,” Eisler noted.

Aside from the Blackface series, the Museum also acquired notable pieces from Levinthal’s equally impressive Barbie and Mein Kampf series, which Museum officials are eager to display.

“Like the Blackface series, Levinthal’s prints from the Barbie and Mein Kampf series will help the Jim Crow Museum—and its companion facility, the Museum of Sexist Objects, explore sexism and other forms of oppression,” said Pilgrim.

“Receiving a gift of this size demonstrates the unmatched significance that the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia has on our society. We are grateful for donors such as this who choose to help us in this endeavor to educate and inform,” added Bob Murray, associate vice president of Advancement at Ferris.

The gift of Levinthal’s work to the Jim Crow Museum has already started to become known by researchers and scholars.

“David Levinthal’s provocative Blackface photographic prints belong in the Jim Crow Museum, a public space that daily critiques demeaning and debilitating stereotypes of African Americans,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.

Levinthal, who has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, has works included in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, and The Menil Collection.

About Jim Crow Museum https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/ About Ferris State University www.ferris.edu About David Levinthal http://www.davidlevinthal.com/

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/50c6c162-4035-4bdc-ad35-1c7614be224e

Ferris State University Contact: Craig Clark, Clark Communications 616-550-2736 craig@clarkcommunication.com

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