It is a great moment for a great project. Some Shreds and Patches readers will remember when, in 2017, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures hosted the special exhibition A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. After debuting at the MMWC, this exhibition, developed in a partnership between the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (Sam Noble Museum) and the Osage Nation Museum, went on to be presented at the Osage Nation Museum. Now, the exhibition is on view, in an extended version, at the Sam Noble Museum. The Sam Noble Museum has organized a rich series of programs to accompany the exhibition, including a special community reception for citizens of the Osage Nation on November 1st. Dan Swan, the Interim Director and Curator for Ethnology at the Sam Noble Museum, served as lead curator for the exhibition.
I return to this exhibition not only because it is now on display at its originating institution but because the book Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage, which stands alone but which also serves as a companion to the exhibition, has just been published by Indiana University Press in the Material Vernaculars series that I edit. The series has been a joint endeavor of the museum and the press. Wedding Clothes is the fifth title to appear in the series. As noted in other posts, MV titles are produced in paper editions sold by the press but also in free-to-readers versions shared digitally via the IUScholarWorks Repository. (It will may take a month or so for the free edition to be posted.) Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community was co-authored by Swan and Jim Cooley and includes a foreword by Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.
My copy of the book arrived today and this is, hands-down, one of the most beautiful books that I have ever seen. IU Press went above and beyond with this one and it is really incredible to hold and to read as a book artifact. The book is filled with great images and they have been reproduced exquisitely on excellent paper. This is the first MV title to be printed in offset. That will not usually be possible with other MV titles, but in this case, with the exhibition and high Osage interest in play, the press was able to take this extra step. I urge everyone to find and enjoy a paper copy. Ideally purchase one. I know that $32 seems like a lot, but when you are holding this book, you will see and know that it is, unlike with so many academic titles, worth it.
The book is more than a pretty object though. It is a rich historical and ethnographic account of Osage life. I really hope that you will devote time to reading this book. The investment will be rewarded. Gift giving is a key theme in Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. I hope that you will receive the gift of this book.
(I will share news of the free edition when it is posted.)