Collection pieces featured in Burma Gallery

By Ralph Argueta

Curated pieces from the Burmese collection of Paul Jerry Bennett will be featured at the Burma Gallery grand opening in NIU’s Altgeld Hall Art Museum.

Bennett, who died in 1989, named the Center for Burma Studies as the recipient of his entire collection of Burmanica that is permanently housed in Founders Memorial Library and the art museum.

Richard Cooler, director of the Center for Burma Studies and curator of the Burma Gallery, said that the collection consists of more than 5,000 books, maps, tapestries, temple hangings and

art objects.

“The exhibit, which includes an explanatory text, is comprised of representative objects from a unique and rare collection,” Cooler said. “Two really unusual items in the collection are the manildas, bracelet-like ingots of bronze that were used for trade by the Portuguese and English.”

After obtaining a degree from Harvard Law School, Bennett joined the State Department in 1958, where his first assignment was economic officer in the American Embassy at Rangoon, Burma.

“During his tour of duty, Bennett perfected his Burmese, learned Pali and fell in love with the country,” Cooler said.

Bennett later had diplomatic assignments to Burma in 1971 and 1973. He served as the American Consul in Chaing Mai, Thailand, from 1979 through 1981.

Bennett’s collection will be on display Friday through Sunday.

NIU’s Center for Burma Studies distributes four publications including CBS News, the Burma Studies Group Bulletin, Burma Newsletter and the Pagan Newsletter from UNESCO.