Every (false) face tells a story
|By Alyssa Gienapp|
Globe-spanning MSU Museum exhibit has ’Mask’ appeal
“Masks are not just strange, exotic, or primitive,” said Gary Morgan, exhibit curator at the Michigan State University Museum. “Masks and masking is something people do across cultures.”
The exhibit “Mask: Secrets and Revelations” features approximately 240 masks and took a year to develop.
According to Morgan, much of the exhibit revolves around an age-old battle: “It pits good against evil.”
That’s evident in the sections devoted to masks from popular culture and traditional Mexican devil masks.
The superhero masks reflect the belief in some African cultures that their ancestors have taken on animal forms. Just as an African mask imitates the beak of a bird, the ears on Batman’s costume imitate those of a bat.
This is one of the main points of masking, Morgan said, to make the human into something more.
The idea of the mask is about transformation — whether it’s transforming into someone uninhibited (like the party masks on display), transforming into an alternate identity, such as a superhero, or transforming an individual into part of a team.
Sports, work and war
A large, heavy Sparty helmet is on display, as worn by the MSU mascot from the 1950s to the 1980s.
“Masks” showcases even earlier incarnations of Sparty, too.
The museum also includes digital materials at the exhibit and online. Smart phones can scan images and find additional content.
’Mask: Secrets and Revelations’
Through Jan. 22, 2012 Michigan State University Museum
9 a.m.-5 p.m Mondays-Fridays; 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Saturdays; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sundays