Discover: Native American Museum

Free Things To Do In Aurora's Facebook page the other day led me to an art show at Aurora University's Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures.

I had no idea Aurora University had a Native American Culture program, and much less a museum. Since I didn't have anything more important to do that evening, I headed right out after taking my dog for his afternoon walkies.

I enjoyed perusing slowly through the entire Native American exhibit space. Taking special care to enjoy the silver jewelry and Hopi Kachina doll displays. The bear claw necklace is huge and features real bear claws! I flashed back to the great time I had in New Mexico a few years ago, visiting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

A special room, located just off the library and museum main exhibit room, is dedicated to artist showings. The evening I went was the grand opening for the Bullets in the Chest, Arrows in the Back show by artist Bunky Echo-Hawk. His exhibit runs until April 26.

Echo-Hawk created portraits that are modernist and simplified. Rich in color, deeply pigmented, and eye catching. What I found most fascinating was the accompanying card for each of the pieces, providing a brief biography for each portrait and narrating the impact that person's work and life had on the Indian Nation.

As I was walking out I got to meet Meg Bero, the museum curator. Meg came over to introduce herself, thank me for stopping by, and invite me to help finish some of the appetizers and cookies that had been ordered for the show's opening. Meg has a bubbly, contagious personality and you can very easily tell she's passionate about her museum.

There's a great little shop at the entrance of the museum with lovely handmade products ranging the entire span of the American continent: Mexican blouses, South American wool bags, and Native American books. And more! Great gift ideas for a special someone or for yourself.

If you drop by, which is well worth your time, make a donation and ask to fill out a card so you can be kept in the loop of upcoming events. The Schingoethe Center is located in the basement of Dunham Hall, at the crossroads intersection of Marsellaise and Dunham in West-Central Aurora, Illinois.

Aurora University is actually easier to find than I expected. Its campus not unlike North Central College in Naperville or the old Marycrest International University in Davenport. It's a small private university with several architecturally interesting buildings spanning several decades.