Museum showcases rare Round Oak artifacts

Published 5:02 pm Thursday, September 1, 2011

While showcasing all facets of local history, the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College’s collection of Round Oak Stove artifacts could easily make SMC’s museum the country’s unofficial Round Oak museum. A new “Uniquely Round Oak” exhibit will further highlight the rarest Round Oak artifacts. An open house with light refreshments will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 14.
In conjunction with the open house, the museum will hold a series of Round Oak lectures monthly from September to December. The lectures, which all begin at 1 p.m. in the Upton Educational Center of the museum, are free and open to the public.
“People across the country have the stoves and advertising, but we have unique items, such as the Kate Lee stove,” said Steve Arseneau, museum director. “To drive that point home, the exhibit within the Round Oak gallery will highlight rare, one-of-a-kind artifacts that visitors will only see here.”
Most of the artifacts will be from the museum’s Round Oak collection, but a few items will be on loan from various supporters. The artifacts include original oil paintings by American artist Remington Schuyler and another artist named Roth.
Schuyler, a noted magazine illustrator, captured the American West, particularly the American Indian culture. He painted several large-scale scenes for Round Oak between 1907 and 1910, two of which will be on exhibit at the museum. These paintings were commissioned by the company for advertising pieces, such as calendars and catalog covers, Arseneau said.
“The two paintings are large format oil on canvas,” Arseneau said. “In addition, the museum owns several original pieces, including a watercolor of the Round Oak plant used in a subsequent postcard and other advertisements.”
In conjunction with the exhibit, four lectures highlighting different aspects of the company’s history will be held on Saturdays in the fall. The series begins Sept. 10 with an overview of the history of Round Oak; followed by Round Oak’s stoves on Oct. 8; Round Oak advertising on Nov. 19; and concluding with Round Oak and Dowagiac on Dec. 10.
The museum is located on Southwestern Michigan College’s Dowagiac campus, just off the Cherry Grove parking lot. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.