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posted: 3/26/2014 2:26 PM

Grower, artist exhibits works with gourds at Elgin museum

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  • Join an opening reception of the traveling exhibit, "Gourds: The Creations and Collections of Virginia Umberger," at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Elgin Public Museum.

      Join an opening reception of the traveling exhibit, "Gourds: The Creations and Collections of Virginia Umberger," at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Elgin Public Museum.
    Courtesy of Elgin Public Museum

 
Submitted by Elgin Public Museum

The Elgin Public Museum of Natural History and Anthropology will host the traveling exhibit, "Gourds: The Creations and Collections of Virginia Umberger."

The 104-year-old Umberger has lived in Elgin for the past 64 years. When she and her late husband started growing gourds, it didn't take long before the couple was totally immersed in the history, art and culture of Lagenaria siceraria, also known as gourds.

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For Virginia, what started out as a fascination turned into a passion as she discovered the hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties of shapes, sizes and colors the gourd had to offer. Vacations turned into expeditions focused on gourds. And their collection grew. They weren't just collectors, they were also artists. Her creations and collections have been part of floral shows throughout the Midwest for years and many looked to her as an authority on the subject of gourds.

An opening reception will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29. See the gourds and meet the woman who curated this collection. You will see gourds made to look like animals, instruments fashioned out of gourds, intricately carved music box gourds, gourds that are taller than a man and more. Coffee and desserts will be served.

In honor of the exhibit, Jill and Wes Nelson will present a talk on gourds and the art of decorating gourds at 7 p.m. Friday, May 9.

The Elgin Public Museum is located in Lords Park at 225 Grand Blvd., Elgin. Reservations are not required. For information, contact the museum at (847) 741-5566 or epm@cityofelgin.org. Visit www.elginpublicmuseum.org.

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