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"Treasures of LSU" Book Highlights University's Cherished Items, Events Planned in Conjunction with Book Release

While many might see the word "treasures" and think of bright, splendorous items that reflect monetary stature, many "treasures" can be simple, everyday items that capture a moment, hold important places in history or have an interesting story as to their existence.

Anyone who has attended or even visited the LSU campus can attest to the fact that it holds numerous treasures in various areas, including architecture, the arts, research, natural beauty, long-standing tradition and historical artifacts.

"Treasures of LSU" is a new, high-quality, 232-page book published by LSU Press that features more than 100 of these iconic items, as well as essays and information on their respective backgrounds and relevance to LSU.

Set for release this month, the large-format book will be sold in bookstores, including in the LSU Student Union Bookstore, and through the LSU Press website, www.lsu.edu/lsupress.

Edited by Laura Lindsay, interim dean of the LSU College of Education and professor emerita in the Manship School of Mass Communication, "Treasures of LSU" is a large-format book that showcases many of the university's treasures and brings them to life through a series of interpretive essays written by numerous faculty members and graduate and research assistants, and through 168 vibrant photographs.

The book is being published specifically for the university's Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2010 but is also a highlight of LSU Press' 75th anniversary.

"The entire 'Treasures' endeavor has been a fascinating learning experience, taking the editorial team into many different areas of the campus," Lindsay said. "The big 'aha' has been recognizing that we could only include a small part of the truly extraordinary artistic, cultural and scientific works that are central to the educational enterprise of the university."

While the treasures included in the book are only a sampling of the intriguing and engaging lore of LSU, the book captures the wealth and diversity of LSU's resources and affirms the university's numerous cultural contributions to the world community.

Some of these treasures act as artistic backdrops to everyday campus life at LSU. "In Unity Ascending," the striking Frank Hayden sculpture, greets all who enter the LSU Student Union, while vibrant Depression-era murals decorate the corridors of Allen Hall.

Other treasures reside in out-of-the-way places. For example, the Department of Geology and Geophysics houses the Henry V. Howe Type Collection of shelled microorganisms—tiny, beautifully varied fossils that frequently aid geologists in determining the ages of rocks and features of ancient environments. Also, the LSU Museum of Natural Science, in Foster Hall, holds one of the largest and most prestigious research collections of bird specimens in the world.

An LSU cadet uniform and a hand-spun Acadian quilt from the LSU Textile & Costume Museum; an enchanting silky-camellia specimen from the collections of the LSU Herbarium, founded in 1869; pottery by Walter Anderson and portraits by William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds from the LSU Museum of Art—all showcase the immense variety of LSU's assets.

Other featured treasures include a historic dogtrot house at the LSU Rural Life Museum; John James Audubon's double elephant folio, "Birds of America," from the E. A. McIlhenny Natural History Collection at Hill Memorial Library; and cherished campus landmarks like the Indian Mounds, the French House and Mike the Tiger's habitat.

As LSU Chancellor Emeritus Paul W. Murrill declared of the treasures in his foreword for the book, "All reflect expressions of superb quality. All encourage, in one way or another, the human spirit to soar."

Hard-cover editions of "Treasures of LSU" will retail for $59.99 each, while soft-cover editions will be available for $29.99 each. Sixty percent of the total purchase price will go back to the university.

Once released, the book will be available for purchase in area bookstores, including the LSU Student Union Bookstore.

Faculty, staff and students regularly receive 25 percent off the price of books purchased through LSU Press website. However, in commemoration of LSU Press' 75th anniversary, anyone can receive a 35 percent discount on purchases made through the LSU Press website. For more information, visit www.lsu.edu/lsupress/75thSale.html

A history of "Treasures"

The idea behind "Treasures of LSU" dates back to 2003, when Gresdna Doty, alumni professor emerita in the LSU Department of Theatre, originally presented a proposal for book showcasing the university's treasures.

Around that time, Doty received a coffee table book from friend and world-renowned botanical artist Margaret Stones that highlighted artistic treasures at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Like "Treasures of LSU," the book was also printed to celebrate the university's sesquicentennial. One of Stones' pieces was featured in the book.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea to highlight the artists of the university," Doty said. "The editor, Chris McAuliffe, said there was a similar book at Harvard."

In consulting with McAuliffe, Doty said, he sent "a wealth of very helpful information."

"He suggested that we take plenty of time because he had to rush it," she said.

When Doty drew up a proposal to create such a book for LSU, she took it to then-Provost Risa Palm, who supported sending the book to then-Chancellor Mark Emmert, but not before creating a budget to go along with the proposal.

At the time when Doty obtained a preliminary budget from LSU Press, Emmert and Palm resigned their positions, a situation that Doty said left the project in question. When talk of organizing a celebration for the university's sesquicentennial arose, the idea of the book was revisited.

Lindsay was soon selected as the editor of the book, bringing a great deal of experience to the project having served as dean of the Junior Division, as well as the university's interim provost and interim director of the LSU Museum of Art.

"The chancellor and the vice chancellor for communications and university relations asked if I would be project director for the book," Lindsay said. "At the time, I was on the faculty in the Manship School of Mass Communication and working on several projects for the Chancellor's Office."

After College of Art & Design professor, art historian and former assistant dean Marchita Mauck joined the project to provide an artistic perspective, an editorial committee was formed to look into compiling treasures for the book. Nominations were accepted through February 2008. The committee then reviewed more than 100 suggestions and eventually selected the treasures that appear in the published book. Once the list of treasures was set, it was simply a matter of compiling the imagery and essays into a visually stunning collection.

"Because the committee opened up nominations for treasures to a wide variety of objects and artifacts, the organization of the book became quite a challenge," Lindsay said. "How could we weave 92 essays together in a way that made sense and was compelling for the reader? We also wanted the photographs to both reflect and inform the essays."

This approach required the photographers who captured the treasures to work with each of the authors, Lindsay said.

"University photographers Jim Zietz, Kevin Duffy, Jason R. Peak and Eddy Perez spent more than a year working with the authors and the editorial team so that they could interpret the object through their lenses in a way that complemented the essay, but also stood on its own," she said.

Lindsay said that she feels the effort put into "Treasures of LSU" by all involved has led to an excellent product.

"I believe that everyone involved in producing 'Treasures of LSU' considered it truly a labor of love for their part in the university's life," Lindsay said. "From the commitment of the faculty and staff who spent many hours researching, writing and photographing these wonderful objects to the investment and care given to its production by the LSU Press, 'Treasures of LSU' has been fantastic project with extraordinary results that LSU fans will want to enjoy and share."

Treasures on display

While many of the treasures included in "Treasures of LSU" can be seen across the LSU campus and surrounding area, more than two dozen of the treasures featured in the book are currently housed at the LSU Museum of Art, which had more entries than any other department.

From 18th-century portraits to silver egg boilers, all the museum's "treasures" are currently on display and marked with the official LSU Sesquicentennial anniversary logo. They include a painting by early American master Rembrandt Peale, prints by the English satirist William Hogarth and photographs by Yousuf Karsh.

Many of the treasures represent the museum's commitment to Louisiana arts, and particularly to LSU, including examples of New Orleans coin silver and a vase representing the museum's remarkable Newcomb collection. Prints by Caroline Durieux and John T. Scott, as well as paintings by Edward Pramuk, James Burke and Michael Crespo, show the museum's current interest in modern and contemporary Louisiana art.

In honor of LSU's sesquicentennial, the museum's contributions to the book will be on display in the "Treasures of the LSU Museum of Art" exhibition throughout 2010.

The LSU Museum of Art is located on the fifth floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 225-389-7200 or visit www.lsumoa.com.

The LSU Student Union Art Gallery will also host numerous events this fall in relations to "Treasures of LSU." The gallery's advisory committee will sponsor an exhibit titled "From Gemstones to Dinosaur Bones: Discovering the Treasures of LSU." The exhibit will be on display beginning Friday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Nov. l4, and will showcase items from the book, as well as well as other treasures selected by the participating sites. An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m., where attendees will also be able to purchase the book.

In addition to the exhibit, LSU President Emeritus William Jenkins will give a presentation on "The Importance of University Collections" on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 12:30 p.m. in the gallery. On Sunday, Nov. 7, the gallery will host "LSU Treasures Day" from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. On this day, people can visit the LSU Press Building, Hill Memorial Library, the Natural History Museum, the Textile Museum, the LSU Student Union Art Gallery, the Rural Life Museum, the Claude L. Shaver Theater, Allen Hall and the LSU Museum of Art to view selected treasures. Copies of "Treasures of LSU" will be available for purchase during this event from the LSU Student Union Bookstore or through LSU Press.

The LSU Student Union Art Gallery, located on the second floor of the LSU Student Union, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is also open on Saturdays during football season. For more information, call 225-578-5117 or visit www.lsu.edu/union and click on "Art Gallery."

Lindsay will also be signing copies of the book at the LSU Museum of Art on Sunday, Oct. 3, beginning at 3 p.m.

The "Treasures of LSU" book release is one of several signature activities taking place throughout 2010 as part of the university's Sesquicentennial Celebration. Sesquicentennial-related events throughout the year are made possible thanks to generous donations to the university by the following sponsors: Campus Federal Credit Union, Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Company, AT&T, Raising Cane's, ExxonMobil, Entergy and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

For more information on LSU's Sesquicentennial Celebration, visit www.lsu150.com.