May 20, 2002 - Press Release: The Peace Corps African Collection

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, June 10, 2002 - 8:16 am: Edit Post

The Peace Corps African Collection

Read and comment on the following Press Release which we received from RPCV Len Lyon on the efforts of Nigeria RPCVs to establish a collection of art and other mementos that volunteers brought back from their African service at:

The Peace Corps African Collection*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

The Peace Corps African Collection

An RPCV reunion for Nigeria X (1964-1966) gave birth to an idea for a collection of art and other mementos that volunteers brought back from their African service. The attendees felt that although these items are quite meaningful to them, their children attached less significant to the statues, native dress, magazines, etc. The RPCVs want to bequeath these items to an appropriate collection available to the public, for instance, in a museum. The museum would reserve the right to reject any gifts that did not fit its needs, and would retain the right to display all or part of such a collection as it wished. But the RPCVs asked for two considerations:

The donor of each exhibited item is to be acknowledged (by a card with the object, in a catalog of the exhibit, or in some other appropriate manner) along with the donor's Peace Corps affiliation, e.g., "Donated by John Smith, Peace Corps Volunteer, Nigeria X (1964-1966)".

An effort is to be made to place items displayed from this collection within reasonable proximity of each other so as to give the collection, as a whole, an identity.

A formal proposal was drafted and submitted to the Peace Corps in Washington to obtain permission to use "Peace Corps" in the title for the collection; this approval has been granted.

The draft was also submitted to several relevant groups along with a request for their endorsement of the idea. The Board of Directors of Friends of Nigeria responded with its official support, and The Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience (Portland, OR) has enthusiastically added its endorsement.

While the effort to obtain additional official support continues, research into possible sites for the collection has begun. The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art was the initial suggestion. Other suggestions include the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA, the Arizona African Art Museum in Phoenix, and the New Orleans African-American Museum of Art, Culture, & History.

This is where your help is needed. The committee seeks additional ideas of possible sites and, especially, ideas about selection criteria. Quantifiable criteria are of utmost importance, but non-quantifiable ideas are also appreciated. For example, some of the existing suggestions are:

1. What is the estimated annual number of visitors to the museum?

2. What is the size of the museum (square feet, number of items, or some such measure)?

3. Does the museum have relationships with other museums to lend exhibits? If so, how many and how often does this happen?

4. Would a monetary donation be required (e.g., to help create a display area, pay for storage and maintenance, etc)? If so: How much initially? Annually?

5. Once enough items have been donated, how much display area is likely to be devoted to the collection?

6. How good a job will the museum do?

7. How much of the PC collection would be exhibited/in storage at any given time? Will all the items donated get seen once a year? Once every five years? How does that compare with the exposure generally given to items in the collection of a given museum?

8. What provision would the museum make for maintaining the PC collection in excellent condition?

9. What kind of an education/outreach program does the museum have?

10. What's the history of board involvement? Is there a clear mission statement and a strong history of adherence to it?

Your ideas or suggestions for possible museum sites and/or selection criteria should be sent to:

Len Lyon
347 Indian Ridge Drive
Palm Desert CA 92211-7478

Please remember, however, that it is still far too early to contact him about making donations or bequests.

Wole Soyinka, Nigerian playwright, author, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has endorsed the Peace Corps African Collection in the following statement:

I still enjoy distinctly positive recollections of my interactions with Peace Corps volunteers all over the African continent in the sixties. The proposed Collection thus strikes me as both imaginative and deserving. It will serve as a record of a remarkable political initiative that has played, I know, a defining role in the development of thousands of young American minds, and innumerable individuals and communities all over the world. As a model for similar projects for assistance and mutual understanding, a collection that derives from this experience will make palpable one of the more positive tributaries into modern American lore.

With ever good wish for its realization,

Wole Soyinka

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Third Goal; COS - Nigeria



By Karen Cellarius on Friday, June 21, 2002 - 5:42 pm: Edit Post

As Len says, this effort is happening at the same time as the Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience is gearing up for a 2nd temporary exhibit in Portland, Oregon. Visit our website at for more information and details on how you can become involved.

Karen Cellarius, Hungary 91-93
CMPCE Board Member

By ALBERT F. GORDON on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 - 7:18 am: Edit Post



By Len Lyon on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 10:06 am: Edit Post

If Al's "THIS" refers to the CMPCE, he was active a year ago, but I don't know about now. If Al's "THIS" refers to the PCAC, Bill Stein is not and was not part of the project, but he, and CMPCE, "enthusiastically support" the project.

These are separate projects. CMPCE hopes to establish a museum; PCAC hopes to establish a collection at an existing museum. If CMPCE had already fulfilled it's goals then it would be a perfect place for PCAC to site.

PCAC wishes CMPCE every success, but since it's such a bigger effort (a museum instead of just a collection, worldwide instead of just African), it's time frame may be much longer than we desire for our own project.

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