Westward Ho! to Open at the Massillon Museum

The Massillon Museum is promoting literacy and celebrating True Grit by Charles Portis during the Massillon community’s tenth annual NEA Big Read program. One of the 30 events planned to enhance readers’ enjoyment of the book will be an exhibition, Westward Ho! True Grit Themes in Costumes and Artifacts.

The exhibition will open in the second-floor gallery Saturday, March 11, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., during the NEA Big Read Kick-Off event. The exhibition includes costumes worn by stars of the 2010 film, True Grit, and Native American artifacts from the Museum’s permanent collection.

To visually capture the True Grit characters’ personalities, Academy Award Nominee Mary Zophres designed costumes for the Coen Brothers’ 2010 Paramount Pictures film True Grit. For the exhibition, Paramount Pictures has loaned four costumes designed by Mary Zophres and worn during filming by the main characters.

Actor Jeff Bridges wore the U.S. Marshall Ruben J. “Rooster” Cogburn costume that will appear in the exhibition, and Matt Damon wore the Texas Ranger La Beouf costume that will be displayed.  Two of the costumes worn by actress Hailee Steinfeld, who played Mattie, will be included.

The book is set in 1870s Arkansas and Oklahoma, when conflicts between American Indians and westward-bound settlers were frequent. Portis references the Choctaw nation several times in his book. Along with the costumes on loan from Paramount Pictures, many artifacts from the American Indian collection at the Massillon Museum will be displayed, including some from the Choctaw Nation, as well as artifacts from the Delaware and Shawnee tribes, who lived in Ohio.

Among the Native American artifacts to be included are implements made and used in the Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Prehistoric, Mississippian, and Historic periods.  Especially interesting objects will include a stone animal effigy, hammerstones, a pestle, projectile points, and stone tools.

While the NEA Big Read extends only until April 25, the exhibition will continue through May 14. It can be seen during regular Museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The keynote speaker for this year’s NEA Big Read will be Bobi Garland, who worked with Mary Zophres on the costuming for the film. The keynote event will take place on Thursday, April 6, at 7:00 p.m., at the Lincoln Theatre, immediately following a public reception at the Massillon Museum. For a complete list of all True Grit-related events, visit massillonmuseum.org or pick up a free book and calendar bookmark at the Museum’s reception desk from March 11 until the supply is depleted.

Selected as the only community in Ohio to participate in the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read in 2017, the Massillon Museum is one of only 77 organizations nationally to receive NEA Big Read grant funding for the 2016–2017 cycle.

The Museum will distribute 1,700 free copies of True Grit, along with bookmarks, to local schools, organizations, and individuals. It has been selected to participate in the NEA Big Read since the second year of the national program. By the end of the Museum’s tenth Big Read project this year, the Museum will have distributed 23,535 free books to encourage reading among local residents.

In addition to the NEA grant, funding is provided by Massillon/North Canton Elks #2029, Rotary Club of Massillon, and ArtsinStark. Local organizations and individuals collaborating with the Massillon Museum include:  the Massillon Public Library, Stark Parks, Massillon/North Canton Elks Lodge #2029, The Artful Living Program, Walsh University Museum Studies Club, Washington High School Drama Department, Visit Canton, and many community volunteers. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to augment its primary local funding.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East (Ohio Route 172) in the heart of downtown Massillon.  Free and convenient street parking is available on adjacent streets.  A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.