Kentucky Museum News
Kentucky Museum launches SpiritFunder to preserve Doc Coffey's Legacy
- Author: Tiffany Isselhardt
- Author: Monday, July 6th, 2020
The Kentucky Museum has launched a new SpiritFunder campaign as part of their "Adopt an Artifact" program. Focused on the Dr. David M. "Doc" Coffey collection of 140 masks, the campaign will help purchase collections supplies to preserve Doc Coffey's unique collection.
A Professor of Agriculture for more than 35 years, Dr. David M. “Doc” Coffey was a world traveler throughout his life. In leading numerous study abroad trips for WKU students and Department of Agriculture colleagues, Doc Coffey collected masks produced by the cultures he visited. He was also given masks as gifts from students, family and friends.
Doc Coffey’s collection of 140 masks now resides at the Kentucky Museum and has been featured in installations including one in the WKU Art Department Corridor Gallery. As the Art Department recalled on their website dedicated to the collection, “Dr. Coffey was an expert at creating community – and many within his broad community of family, colleagues, former students and friends are part of the story of this collection, or ‘faces behind the masks.’”
As published on the Museum's blog, the masks continue to have a significant impact today. Notably, the masks were the primary project for the late Pamela Ryals, who volunteered her time, knowledge, and passion for preserving cultural knowledge and led efforts to catalog and photograph the masks. Additionally, the masks were recently featured in a study conducted by Dr. J. Farley Norman (WKU, Pyschological Sciences) and Gatton Academy student Sydney P. Wheeler (2019, Greenwood High School), which was the first scientific study to look at whether masks can communicate emotion.
“Every artifact holds a story,” stated Tiffany Isselhardt, the Museum’s Development and Marketing Manager. “But to tell those stories, we have to preserve the artifacts—and preservation isn’t easy. Each artifact has special needs, from the environment we keep it in to how it is cleaned and displayed, which the museum field calls ‘conservation.’ By adopting an artifact, the community helps ensure we can do this important work.”
Through SpiritFunder, the Museum hopes to raise the full $3,300 needed to have the collection fully adopted. All adopters receive an adoption certificate for their artifact, and recognition on the artifact’s catalog and exhibit labels in future exhibits.
Donations can be made online now at https://www.givecampus.com/schools/WesternKentuckyUniversity/preserve-doc-coffey-s-legacy
About Kentucky Museum
The Kentucky Museum celebrates all aspects of South-Central Kentucky’s art, history, and culture. “Kentuckians need to know Kentucky” was the museum’s earliest conceptual framework, which took shape in the eyes of WKU’s founding president Henry Hardin Cherry. Today, we are a steadfast educational campus partner helping to inspire innovation, elevate community, and transform the lives of our students and the community.