PETROGLYPH FEATURED IN TRAVELING EXHIBITION

On the second floor of the Walsh Library is a rare petroglyph – a prehistoric rock carving – made between 3000-1000 B.C.E. The petroglyph generates numerous research requests each year due to its unique nature. One of those requests was made by the National Scenic Visitors Center/Earthwalk USA of Zionsville, Pennsylvania for their Earthwalk Explorer multi-media interactive exhibition.  They requested a visit to the petroglyph to do a 3D scan which was written about in a previous blog post roughly two years ago.

petroglyph being scanned
the petroglyph being 3D scanned in preparation of the replica

This traveling exhibit pairs maps, topography, history, culture, written and spoken language and storytelling in an immersive experience that projects videos onto a topographical map of the East Coast of the United States.  The looped video begins by revealing the original Lenni Lenape trails that eventually became the highways and busy roads we use today; facets of Lenape history and culture, and other fascinating information about the region’s forests, parks and borders.  The National Scenic Visitors Center worked closely with Chief Demund of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania who offered this blessing which opens the video program:

“Grandfather, sacred and holy father, you whose breath we hear in the four winds. I say thank you for the wingeds, the four leggeds, the fish people, the creepy crawlers, the plants, the trees, the grandfathers.   I say thank you for the breath of life and for all my relations.”

                                                             – Chief Demund, Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania

Adjacent to the exhibit is an activity area featuring a reproduction of the petroglyph. Visitors learn about the glyphs – their conjectured meaning, what they depict and how the words are pronounced in Lenape. The project relied on the Lenape Talking Dictionary for some of the interpretations. Professor Sean Harvey of Seton Hall University discussed the petroglyph’s significance in a video produced last year for Native American Heritage Month.

The petroglyph was located on Rudyard Jennings’ property along the Delaware River in Walpack Township, New Jersey until 1968 when it was moved to Seton Hall University by Herbert Kraft, a field archaeologist specializing in Lenni Lenape people and culture.  Kraft was also a renowned professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at the university.  At the time of the move, Kraft sought to preserve the petroglyph which was at risk due to a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers to dam the river which would have flooded the area: submerging the petroglyph. Plans to build the Tocks Island Dam were never realized, but the petroglyph had already been moved by the time the project was abandoned.  The petroglyph is the only one discovered along the Delaware River, making it a unique resource that offers tantalizing glimpses into the life and values of the Lenni Lenape people.

Earthwalk Explorer
Jeanne Brasile, Gallery Director poses with staff from Earthwalk Explorer

Gallery Director Jeanne Brasile recently visited the Earthwalk Explorer which is on view at Northampton Community College in Easton, Pennsylvania to see how the petroglyph was integrated into the exhibit and interpreted for visitors.  Brasile met with Mary Ellen Snyder, Executive Director of the National Scenic Visitors Center and Amy Hollander, Strategic Consultant at Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor who developed the educational programs and much of the content.  Joining them were two student docents, Alexander Almonte and Alejandro Zuniga who enthusiastically and expertly guided the experience for visitors.  Almonte described how his interest in GIS (a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface) and geography drew him to this work but the exhibit also stirred more of a connection to his own lineage which is partly indigenous Peruvian on his mother’s side.  The exhibition uses the concept of geography and topography as a jumping off point for discourse on issues such as colonialism, land stewardship, respect and migratory patterns.

image of 3D map
walking the 3D map

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Activity area features Lenape glyphs and language
Activity area features Lenape glyphs and language

The Walsh Gallery has a considerable collection of fine art, artifacts and archeological specimens for use by faculty, students and researchers. For access to this or other objects in our collections, contact us at 973-275-2033 or walshgallery@shu.edu to make a research appointment. 

Walsh Gallery Receives Donation of African Art and Artifacts

Donor Richard Stern (L) and Gallery Director Jeanne Brasile (R) with some of the African sculptures donated to Seton Hall University

Retired Seton Hall University Librarian and Assistant Professor, Richard E. Stern recently donated a significant collection of African art and artifacts to the University. Stern acquired the objects when he was a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Liberia from 1969 to 1970. The donation includes more than sixty-five pieces of cloth – some hand-dyed by Stern – using traditional methods and natural materials such as indigo and cola nuts. Many pieces were hand-woven, including a small selection of Kente cloth from Ghana. Other hand-crafted objects include wooden masks and sculptures, cast metal figurines and beaded necklaces. “This donation is significant for Seton Hall University. The objects illuminate world cultures and artistic traditions unique to West Africa, while embodying the donor’s personal relationships to the people he met and places he traveled during his Peace Corps service. Stern’s personal recollections about the objects and the people connected with them are being preserved, providing a crucial layer of context for the collection. We could not be more appreciative.” stated Gallery Director Jeanne Brasile.

The collection amplifies the university’s Diversity Initiatives which celebrate a rich tapestry of global ideas and perspectives. Stern’s generous donation will expand Seton Hall’s collections overall, while augmenting existing collections of African art and artifacts including sculptures, paintings, photographs and prints. Presently, Collections Manager Laura Hapke is preparing the objects for exhibition by cataloguing each item and creating a safe storage environment for each, thereby ensuring access to this unique collection for generations of students, faculty, researchers and scholars.

Collections Manager Laura Hapke documenting Kente cloth donated by Richard Stern

The Walsh Gallery cares for and interprets Seton Hall University’s collections of material culture. In addition to the African art and artifacts the university collections include The Wang Fangyu Collection of Asian Art which spans over 3,500 years of cultural traditions from China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, India and Vietnam; The Seton Hall University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology which includes objects from North American cultures including the Leni Lenape, Paiute, Zuni, Pomo and Tlingit peoples as well as objects from South America, Asia and Europe; and The D’Argenio Collection of Coins and Antiquities which includes coins from ancient Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures.   Appointments to see the collections can be made by completing this form. A sampling of our collections can be viewed on Google Arts and Culture.   The Walsh Gallery is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday—Friday and is located on the first floor of the Walsh Library.  The gallery is free and open to the public.

Cloth vendor in Liberia – image courtesy of Richard Stern from his personal collection