March 14, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 13

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    While galleries closed, Oriental Institute

    will take treasures on road

    Although its galleries are closing for renovations, the Oriental Institute Museum is keeping itself open to educational outreach.

    With a $25,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust, the museum is organizing a program to send volunteer docents into schools and other community organizations in Chicago and the suburbs to acquaint people with the heritage of the ancient Near East.

    "We are excited about this project because it will allow us to continue telling our story, even at a time when people are not able to visit us," said Carole Krucoff, Head of Museum Education for the Oriental Institute.

    The grant generously provides support for the salaries of two part-time volunteer coordinators for the museum's educational programs. The coordinators will organize a schedule of visits throughout the area beginning in the fall.

    "We are piloting some formats this winter and spring and have already found some that are particularly successful," Krucoff said. "For example, we visited a retirement community in Evanston and offered residents a slide presentation on the ancient Near East and gave them a chance to view reproductions of artifacts. They loved it.

    "This is a group of people who probably would not have visited the Oriental Institute Museum," Krucoff continued, "but we were able to give them an educational experience, focused on the ancient world, that we hope will stimulate their interest in visiting the museum once all the galleries have reopened.

    "Besides reaching out to new groups, we also want to continue serving school groups who have been regular visitors to the museum. We don't want to lose touch," Krucoff said. "We're grateful that the Chicago Community Trust is our partner is these new outreach efforts."

    The Chicago Community Trust has been a concerned partner with many outstanding Chicago-area nonprofits for over 80 years. As Chicago's community foundation, the trust is a union of numerous gifts and bequests which form permanent endowments. Income from these endowments is used to make grants to nonprofits that serve nearly every community in the metropolitan area.

    The Oriental Institute has raised $5.8 million toward the $10.1 million needed for its facilities improvements. Its fundraising drive will continue through April 1997.

    In February, the museum temporarily closed its Egyptian gallery. Its Assyrian, Mesopotamian, and Special Exhibits galleries will remain open to the public through March 31. The Suq gift and book shop will continue normal operations throughout the renovation project, which is expected to continue through early 1998.