EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan State University Museum plans to use its largest gift ever to create a curator for the East Lansing facility's historical collections.
University officials on Friday announced the $1.9 million gift to be funded by the estates of donors. They are Julie Avery, Stephen Stier and Val Berryman. The endowment is named after Berryman, who died in January after serving nearly 50 years as the museum's curator of history. University officials say the three jointly decided to set aside money before Berryman died.
Avery recently retired from the museum, where she held many positions, and Stier, her husband, has held a research associate post since 1995.
The collection includes exhibits that focus on the history of agriculture, the state of Michigan and the Great Lakes. But it also includes curiosities near and dear to Berryman: his collection of 18,000 three-dimensional photographs and stereo viewing equipment as well as his vast but uncounted collection of Santas.
"This is a fantastic gift that will ensure the museum's historical programs are strong and vibrant into the future," museum director Gary Morgan said in a news release. "There is no better way for Val's name to be remembered."
Morgan told the Lansing State Journal that officials are searching for someone to fill Berryman's position but have set no timetable for the new endowed curatorship.
The endowment is the third for the museum's historical collections. An anonymous donor last year established a planned gift to help buy objects, and Avery and Stier in 2002 established another to support history projects and activity.