Congratulations on 30 Years: Traveling Near and Far with Thierry
Back in December, Thierry Gentis, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology Curator, celebrated 30 years with Brown. Things were busy then — we finally get around to offering Thierry our belated but heartfelt congratulations with this post from Rip Gerry, HMA Exhibit Designer and Archivist.
When I was asked to write something short about working with Thierry in the “early days” at the Haffenreffer Museum, my initial response was: “sure, no problem.” Then I thought “wait . . . do I have to be nice?” In that case it will have to be short!”
When I think back to those early days, the first thing that comes to mind are road trips. Thierry and I always seemed to be traveling in the museum’s van to pick up wondrous donations. One of the journeys that comes to mind is a trip to Washington D.C. to pick up a West African collection being given by Bill Mithoeffer — and struggling to load up some very large heavy stone sculptures. During one trip to Philadelphia to pick up Cameroonian artifacts from Igor Kopytoff we were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. More than once we found ourselves in New York City to pick up donations of African art from William Brill, and were “forced” to join Mr. Brill for a martini lunch. And there was a trip to central Ohio to retrieve Ferdinand and Beverley Bach’s donation of Northwest Coast model watercraft. This drive is especially memorable because of the summer heat: we were on the lookout for a lake so that we could take a refreshing swim. These journeys and more are filled with good memories.
While we also took a fair share of short trips out to Cape Cod or up to Boston for the day, many of our road trips required overnight stays, and we benefited from some free time to explore the local sights. We of course ventured into the museums and galleries to critique the displays, and I often also found myself in curio and antique shops with Thierry. In our prowling of the shops as in our visits with generous donors, the thing that amazed me, as it still does, is Thierry’s ability to identify any artifact, no matter how obscure, and then to relate some little known fact about that type of cultural treasure.
Those who are lucky enough to be part of a tour or class led by Thierry will know that I am not exaggerating when I say: “No one knows the collections as well as Thierry.”
~ Rip Gerry, HMA Exhibit Designer and Archivist
–Thank you, Rip. And congratulations Thierry — here’s to many more happy years at the Haffenreffer!
See pictures of Thierry’s recent travels around campus below.