January 25−June 30, 2019
The beauty of Michigan’s barns is revealed through a photographer’s eyes in the exhibition, Michigan’s Heritage Barns: An Artist’s Perspective (photographs by Mary Keithan).
Prominent on the landscape throughout Michigan, traditional barns are visible reminders of our agricultural legacy. The seemingly endless variety of barn shapes, sizes, details, and uses reflects the rich diversity of farmers and farming in Michigan. Gothic, gambrel, or gable roofs; hay hoods, cupolas, and dormers; granary, milk house, silo, and windmill–all are a record of our agricultural heritage and clues to understanding it.
Traditional barns are more than just evidence of our history. They are regional landmarks, evoking a unique sense of place. Built with time-tested designs, superior materials, and high standards of workmanship, these barns were made to last forever. In turn, they sustained generations. Maintenance, adaptation for continuing use, and preservation are our challenges for the future.
Michigan’s Heritage Barns is an exhibition of 22 black and white barn photographs from artist Mary Keithan. In the spring of 1990, Keithan took an interest in the aged wooden barns of Michigan and began to capture them on film with her 8 x 10 field camera. Michigan’s one-room schoolhouses and lighthouses have also captured her interest. Mary has sought out hundreds of these icons, recording them so that others may view them before they are lost to the ravages of time or the elements. A native of rural Pennsylvania, Keithan is a resident of northern Macomb County, Michigan. A painter and photographer, she has received degrees in fine art from Pennsylvania State University and Hunter College (New York City). Her bookHeritage Barns: Michigan Photographshas recently been published by Michigan State University Press.
The Michigan Barn Preservation Network and Michigan State University Museum present artist/photographer Mary Keithan’s barn portraits. Michigan’s Heritage Barns showcases the artistry of these traditional structures to increase awareness of their potential and the value of preserving them.
The Michigan Barn Preservation Network (MBPN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting appreciation, preservation, and rehabilitation of Michigan barns, farmsteads, and rural communities. MBPN holds an annual conference in March; publishes a quarterly newsletter; and, in cooperation with MSU Museum
and the George and Matilda Noyer Leik Foundation, produces The Barn Journal: on-lineat <http://museum.msu.edu/barn>.
Founded in 1857, the Michigan State University Museum is one of Michigan’s most popular natural and cultural history museums. The Michigan State University Museum’s Traveling Exhibition Service provides affordable exhibitions for museums and organizations both in and out of Michigan. Over two dozen traveling exhibits are available and represent a variety of Michigan’s natural and cultural resources, from quilts to Native American arts.
Exhibit sponsored by
This traveling exhibition is an Agricultural Heritage Program activity of the Michigan State University Museum. It is made possible with the generous financial and in-kind support of the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, Michigan Barn Preservation Network, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Michigan Humanities Council, and National Endowment for the Humanities.