Donation to KSU museum won’t be used for years


Jean Druesedow, director of the fashion museum, washes a garment from 1885 in the storage room in the basement of the museum on Aug. 31. “I like to, of course, work with the collection,” Druesedow said. Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Alicia Crabtree

The Kent State University Museum has no plans as of yet for the $1.1 million donation from Kent State alumnus Gerald Schweigert.

Jean Druesedow, director of the Kent State University Museum, said the museum won’t actually have access to the donation for years.

“It’s a planned gift annuity, so it will be an endowment when the time comes,” Druesedow said. “We’re not sure, of course, what will actually come our way until, well, Jerry would have to pass away, and of course we’re not wishing him an early demise.”

There are no plans currently for how the donation will be used, but Druesedow does have a list of priorities. New storage is at the top.

“Normally museum storage is designed for a 20-year lifespan, and we’re at 27, so our closets are very crowded,” Druesedow said. “That would allow us to have at least a third more space, so that would make a huge difference in terms of [the organization of] our collection.”

According to a university press release from May, when the museum space was created in the former University Library in Rockwell Hall, the original Silverman-Rodgers collection consisted of 4,000 dresses, 1,000 decorative pieces and a 5,000-volume reference library. Today, the museum has over 30,000 dresses and 10,000 decorative pieces.

Erin Marvinney, a junior fashion design student, is a large supporter of the Kent State University Museum and its ever-changing exhibits.

“Personally, as a student, the fact that I can have access to anything there is great,” Marvinney said. “Since I’ve been here, they’ve put in a lot more exhibits that have caught student’s attention, like the sustainability exhibit.”

The donation will allow the museum to continue preserving pieces and bringing in new exhibits for students and the public to enjoy.

“It’s a fabulous thing,” Druesedow said. “I can be very patient when there’s a million dollars waiting around the corner.”

Schweigert is a 1955 graduate of Kent State University and has been an essential figure in the development of the school’s museum and fashion program.

“He was a good friend of Shannon Rodgers, who was our founding benefactor,” Druesedow said, “and I think Jerry felt that he wanted to ensure Shannon’s legacy.”

Contact Alicia Crabtree at [email protected].