The University of Akron is the beneficiary of a new $5 million gift from long-time UA benefactors Jim and Vanita Oelschlager. The gift will be used to create the Oak Native American Museum as part of the Institute for Human Science and Culture. The museum will provide research opportunities and community access to the Oelschlagers’ collection of 800 rare Native American artifacts.
The university’s Cummings Center for the History of Psychology will house the museum. The Oelschlagers’ gift will be used to renovate the building’s third and fourth floors to feature galleries, a reading room, classrooms, and a workshop.
“The Institute for Human Science and Culture is devoted to education and research in the history, preservation, documentation, and interpretation of the human experience,” said UA President Matthew J. Wilson. “This gift will become an asset to the entire community, offering hands-on learning experiences involving the museum’s collection.
The Oelschlagers decided that the University of Akron would be the best place to house, display, and study their Native American collection.
“It will provide students an opportunity to learn how to manage, research, and display these historical items from different parts of the continent, thus preparing them to be able to work on other collections,” said Jim Oelschlager.
“We are taking a private collection and making it available to the students for study and to the general public for viewing,” said Vanita Oelschlager.
David Baker, executive director of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, said the collection will “promote the examination of humanity from multiple perspectives—psychological, anthropological, artistic, and historical.”
The Oelschlagers’ gift, along with the Lynn Rodeman Metzger Endowed Curatorship in Anthropology, will support a full-time curator to manage the collection of Native American artifacts.
Jim and Vanita Oelschlager have long supported the University of Akron, most notably through the Oelschlager Summer Leadership Institute, which allows area high school students to participate in a seven-day workshop on UA’s campus, introducing them to the skills, attitudes, and resources necessary for success in college. The Oelschlagers have also supported a number of scholarships for UA students.