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The timing of the election
of Pope Francis and the Kent State University Museum's newest exhibit, "Raiment for Liturgy," which opened last month, "was just happenstance," said Jean Druesedow, museum director.
"We've been thinking about it for well over a year," she said. "We've had vestments since the beginning of the museum."
The exhibit, which can be seen through Feb. 9, 2014, highlights religious garments and textiles from the museum's collection. Druesedow said the exhibit "represents really extraordinary textiles from the 17th and 18th century."
"The Roman Catholic Church decreed that vestments be made of silk, the most expensive and precious of all textiles, because bishops and priests celebrating Mass should wear only the finest materials," she said. "For this reason, many of the vestments in the exhibition are made of luxurious woven silks brocaded in gold and silver or embroidered in polychrome and precious metallic threads. This is very different from today, when the emphasis is more on modesty."
Druesedow said that while some of the garments on display were made specifically for the church, other liturgical garments were used from donated cloth and material from the upper classes.
"These are beautiful, just beautiful," Druesedow said. "When [Austrian Archduchess] Maria Theresa was done with her state dresses, she donated them to the church. This was not uncommon."
Sometimes interesting historical information can be gleaned from raiments made from repurposed garments, Druesedow said. There is a vestment in the possession in Leon, France, she said.
"They looked at it and saw all these odd pieces," she said. "So they took it apart and found it had been made from a doublet made in the 14th century."
Shannon Rodgers acquired liturgical vestments as part of the collection that formed the original gift establishing the Kent State University Museum, Druesedow said. Along with these pieces, Raiment for Liturgy includes textiles from the Fulton-Lucien Collection, acquired in 1986, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, transferred to the KSU Museum in 1995.
The Kent State University Museum is at 515 Hilltop Drive, on the corner of Main Street and South Lincoln Street in Kent. Hours are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 4:45 p.m.
Admission to the Kent State University Museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children under 18. The museum is free with a Kent State University ID and free to the public on Sundays. The museum also offers free parking.
For details, call 330-672-3450 or visit kent.edu/museum.