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Sticks, Strings and Shadows Puppets of Asia

April 18-Nov. 7, 2010
MSU museum, Ground Floor Gallery

The Michigan State University Museum will debut a new collection of Asian puppets in the Ground Floor Gallery April 18 - Nov. 7, 2010. The exhibit, Sticks, Strings and Shadows: Puppets of Asia, will spotlight a special part of a recently acquired collection.

The puppets - along with other cultural artifacts - were a 2009 gift from Doris Neilson of Avoca, Mich., who gathered the objects during her travels throughout the last 20 years.

Image of Sticks, Strings and Shadows Puppets of Asia Exhibit
Shadow puppet from Indonesia, string marionettes from Sri Lanka and Myanmar (formerly Burma), and a rod puppet from Indonesia.

"A [now-retired] schoolteacher, Doris was careful to document and photograph her collecting activities from the beginning so that she could share the objects and the information with her students," explains MSU Museum Curator of History Val Roy Berryman. "This donation adds an exciting dimension to our Asian culture collections because it encompasses most of the countries in that region that have traditionally afforded puppet shows the same level of importance as opera, legitimate theatre and other forms of entertainment. Puppet and marionette shows have also helped to preserve and present the legends, myths and histories of the various countries of Asia," Berryman said.

The exhibit includes puppets from China, Vietnam, and Indonesia that are operated with wooden rods or sticks attached to their heads and hands. String marionettes from India, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal feature hand-carved wooden heads, hands and feet and elaborate costumes. Shadow puppets, from China, Cambodia, and Bali, Indonesia, are flat silhouettes cut from sheets of rawhide or thin wood controlled by long sticks and are manipulated behind a cloth screen so that their shadows are projected on the screen to be viewed by the audience on the other side.

The MSU Museum features three floors of special collections and changing exhibits and is open seven days a week free of charge (donations are encouraged). Located on West Circle Drive next to Beaumont Tower on the MSU campus in East Lansing, the MSU Museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. Hours are Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. -5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Visitor parking is available in front of the building and at metered spaces at the Grand River Ramp, one block away at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Charles Street. For more information, call (517) 355-2370 or see http://museum.msu.edu.