Photo by Lissette Mendoza/Viking/@chingonapicosa/ The empty offices and boardrooms of Building O2 where the Japanese artifacts are on display at the LAC.

 

Story by Denny Han/Viking/Staff/@dennyh_

Hidden from the eyes of students at the southernmost point of the LAC, inside the offices and boardrooms of Building O2, is a collection of millennia-old Chinese and Japanese artifacts donated by sisters Beulah, Pauline and Helen Ware.

Photo by Lissette Mendoza/Viking/@chingonapicosa/ A Japanese samurai helmet and a Chinese antique jewelry box are on display at LBCC’S Foundation office, located at building O-2.

Pauline Ware had purchased the majority of the collection during the sisters’ teaching tenure in Beijing, China in the 1930s amid the Great Depression when such artifacts were readily affordable.

Because of its obscure location, students and employees remain largely unaware of the collection’s existence.

“I didn’t even know this existed,” Jonathan Lucro, 19, an art major, said, “It’s a shame that it’s a 15-20 minute walk from the main campus because I’ve got a tight schedule so I don’t have many chances to explore the school. Most of the art I get to see is just here in the K Building.”

LBCC Board of Trustees President Virginia Baxter, oversaw the Ware sisters’ donation during her time as the executive director of the LBCC Foundation. She said that the collection was once proudly featured in the LAC’s Library until a remodeling process, after which the Dean overseeing the library at the time decided not to redisplay.

“I brought the collection over to Building O because I didn’t think this was something you could just put in a warehouse. This is something you display,” Baxter said.

Art history professor Wendy Koenig specializes in East Asian art. She was recruited by Baxter to analyze and research the artifacts. Koenig said, “The collection could be vulnerable against the natural lighting coming in from the windows, given the way they’re set up in that boardroom. And we don’t know the insurance value of these artifacts either due to the cost of getting them appraised.”

Koenig showed an interest in bringing the collection back to the campus library. “There were times where I would send students over there to take a look, only to be turned back around because there was a meeting going on in there. So I think having the collection in the library would certainly be a great idea,” she said.

Jeiremiah Berryman, 19, an architecture major, also supported moving the collection to the LAC Library, “I would love to be able to see these artifacts here on the main campus. I like to incorporate designs from other cultures into my own work so I find that stuff inspirational.”

Baxter said she does not believe there are plans to move the Ware collection back in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, several pieces of the collection such as a Japanese kimono, remain in the Foundation office’s storeroom. Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth McCann said that the remaining pieces will be displayed starting this fall after a remodeling project.