MILWAUKEE — “Not all who wander are lost.” That saying is especially true for J.R.R. Tolkien fans who find themselves in the Haggerty Museum of Art in the coming months.
The art museum, located on Marquette University’s campus, will feature a new exhibit, “J.R.R Tolkien: The Art Of Manuscript.” The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Dec. 23.
(Spectrum News/Phillip Boudreaux)
Marquette purchased manuscripts in the 1950s of four of Tolkien’s books including “The Hobbit” and “The Lord Of The Rings.”
Susan Longhenry, director and chief curator of the Haggerty Museum of Art, said William Brady — a Marquette librarian in the 1950s — started to collect work by Catholic authors.
“Catholic faith was important to J.R.R Tolkien,” Longhenry said. “He happened to work with an intermediary to be able to purchase these manuscripts.”
The university has previously had seminars on “Lord of the Rings” and Tolkien. Faculty and staff are involved in the school’s collection — now some are dipping their hands in art curation.
William Fliss is an associate archivist at Marquette, and in charge of the Tolkien collection. Now, he’s a curator for the exhibit. (Spectrum News/Phillip Boudreaux)
William Fliss is an associate archivist at Marquette, and in charge of the Tolkien collection. Now, he’s a curator for the exhibit.
“To open this up to a much wider audience than we might get in the archives. People do come to visit the archives and study the manuscripts but this gives a much greater scope to allow people to interact with the manuscripts so it’s very gratifying for me to be able to do that,” said Fliss.
Sarah Schaefer, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee assistant art history professor, is also a curator for the exhibit.
She said that Tolkien wrote many manuscripts to build the world of Middle Earth.
Sarah Schaefer, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee assistant art history professor, is also a curator for the exhibit. (Spectrum News/Phillip Boudreaux)
“I think a lot of it had to do with just creating this internal consistency for himself as much as it was for the fans and that’s one of the great things about the archives is that he didn’t great this documents for people to view in the future. He created them for himself as he was drafting these stories,” said Schaefer.
Schaefer said being a part of this exhibit has been a dream come true. She said her father read “Lord of the Rings” at least once a year.
“I didn’t become a fan until I was in college and read all of the books multiple times over the course of a couple years,” said Schaefer. “And that was just sort of the beginning point of a deep love and embracing of this material.”
While Schaefer has been to several Tolkien exhibits in the past, she said she sees this as a chance to offer something new.
“There are objects that have never been exhibited before, never been published before, that people will be seeing for the first time,” she said. “I hope the viewers will be learning something new or something unexpected — no matter how casual or how deep of a fan you are, going into the exhibition.”
Schaefer said this exhibit will give the public a new perspective of his works and something unique for those in Wisconsin to see.