Physical Exhibit Gallery

Animal Bells and their Story on Exhibit at USU Merrill-Cazier Library

Utah State Today press release from October 22, 2009

It is not uncommon in rural communities to see a belled animal. The small instrument alerts the owner to the place and safety of the herd. Bells are used on animals throughout the world, from goats to chickens, sheep to camels to connect animals to people and the land.

This rich connection is the focus of the latest exhibit at Utah State University's Merrill-Cazier Library. An opening reception and lecture, sponsored by the Friends of USU Library, is also planned.

The exhibit, "Bells: Connecting Animals, People and Land" can be viewed in the first-floor foyer area of Merrill-Cazier Library. It highlights the significant animal bell collection of professor Thad Box, retired dean of USU's College of Natural Resources. Interpretive and descriptive panels guide visitors through the exhibit.

Friends of the Merrill-Cazier Library host an opening reception for the exhibit Oct. 28, 6-7 p.m. in the library foyer. The reception is followed by the Firends's annual fall lecture that begins at 7 p.m. in Merrill-Cazier Library, Room 101. The lecture features professor Box, who will share stories reflecting the cultural connection people have to animals and their landscapes through bells.

"The bell exhibit highlights the relationship of bells and stories, beginning with the earliest animal belling traditions in Africa more than 5,000 years ago and continuing today," said exhibit co-curator Randy Williams.

The idea for the exhibit grew out of USU's Land Use Management Oral History Project. The project is a collaborative effort of USU's Special Collections and Archives, Department of Environment and Society in the College of Natural Resources and the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies.

Barbara Middleton is an exhibit co-curator and faculty member in the Department of Environment and Society at USU.

"While working with Thad Box, I noted his continual use of bells and storytelling to explain the connection of people and animals and landscape," Middleton said. "At that point, I knew we needed to conduct an extensive interview with Thad to get the stories behind his bell collection and to host an exhibit to share this story."

While working as the department head of USU's Rangelands Department and then dean of the College of Natural Resources, Box amassed a wide assortment of bells. As artifacts of livestock management and cultural history, the bells echo personal stories and experiences across several continents. The bells are gifts from many individiuals and colleagues across a 60-year span, as well as pieces from his youth on his family farm in central Texas.

Bells: Connecting Animals, People, and Land runs Oct. 28 through Jan. 22, 2010, on the first floor of Merrill-Cazier Library on the USU campus.

The exhibit is free and all are welcome.

Source: Merrill-Cazier Library

Contact: Randy Williams, 425-797-3493


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