In honor of its 30th anniversary, the Stark Museum of Art will host a public open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Visitors are invited to the museum to enjoy cake, punch, coffee and spotlight presentations by docents in the museum galleries.

Museum Director Sarah Boehme invited visitors saying, “Nov. 29 is the actual anniversary date of the opening of the Stark Museum of Art so we wanted to offer something special on that day. It is also the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so it is a great time to bring holiday visitors and family members to see the Museum. We will have docents in the galleries who can provide interpretations that enhance the viewing experience. Our refreshments will include a cake in the shape of the Stark Museum of Art with the 30th anniversary logo applied.”            

Two special exhibitions will be on view during the open house.

“Thirtieth Anniversary Treasures: Unseen Works from the Stark Collection,” on view through Jan. 6, offers a look at the breadth and depth of the museum’s collections. It features works of art never before displayed to the public, including the Thomas Moran painting of Venice; Grandma Moses scenes of rural life; and other masterworks.

The second exhibition is “Pictured Prayers: Medieval Books of Hours,” on view through Jan. 6. Visitors will have the opportunity to view seven beautifully hand-painted Books of Hours manuscripts open to devotional images related to the Christmas story.

 The 30th anniversary celebration for the Stark Museum of Art continues at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 with a special presentation by Dr. Julie Schimmel, inaugural curator for the museum. Schimmel’s talk, “Stark Museum of Art 1978: A Reminiscence,” will present a unique look at the time, people and art surrounding the museum’s opening on Nov. 29, 1978. The free slide-talk will take place at the Lutcher Theater, 707 Main Ave., will be followed by a reception at the museum, 712 Green Ave.

Schimmel served as curator of collections for the Stark Museum of Art from 1977 to 1979. She administered the museum’s inaugural exhibition of some 700 objects and recruited and supervised the museum’s inaugural staff. She also researched, wrote, and supervised the production of a collection catalog, which included an essay and documentation of 1600 objects from the museum’s remarkable collection of American Western art.

Said Schimmel of her presentation, “My intention is to introduce the human side of museum work by introducing the wonderful people who brought the Stark Museum of Art to life and opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1978. Solutions to many of our exhibition challenges came not just from Orange, but also Washington, D.C., and New York City, and were delivered by people with remarkably different backgrounds, some with extensive museum experience, and some with none at all. Yet, the Stark Museum’s extraordinary collection of American Western art, long hours and good humor made it all possible.”

Schimmel also plans to offer personal remembrances of Nelda C. Stark, who selected Schimmel for the Stark Museum’s curator position. “Nelda Stark offered me the most extraordinary opportunity, when she intuitively judged that I was the person to organize the inaugural opening of the museum she had built in memory of her husband, Lutcher. In this lecture, I hope to show a side of Mrs. Stark’s personality that was unknown to most people, and that was her many-sided generosity. She was a grand Texas lady.” 

In the spirit of the generosity that made the Stark Museum possible, visitors are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to a reception at the museum immediately following the presentation. Collection boxes will be located at the museum. The toys will be donated to the Blue Santa program, which will distribute the toys to needy families during the holiday season. The museum, through its parent organization the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, will make a corresponding contribution to Blue Santa.

In addition to these special exhibitions, the museum’s ongoing

galleries of Western American art and decorative arts will be on view.

Also, the museum store will be open for those wishing to purchase

products related to the Stark Museum of Art and the artists on view, as

well as limited-time items such as the 30th anniversary poster, holiday

cards and a special Christmas ornament.

The Stark Museum of Art first opened to the public on Nov. 29, 1978,

and is a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation.

Admission is free. For more information, call 886-ARTS (2787) or go to