The following is a press release from the Mitchell Museum of The American Indian about the death of its co-founder, Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell.
Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell, co-founder of the award-winning Mitchell Museum of The American Indian, passed away peacefully on Sunday, September 22 at the age of 99. Mrs. Mitchell, along with her husband John, dedicated much of their lives to collecting and sharing American Indian art and culture. The museum was founded in 1977 through the generous donation of their personal collection, and continues educating generations of local and international visitors through programs, exhibits and events today.
”We are deeply saddened at the loss of such an amazing woman,” said Kathleen McDonald, Executive Director of the Mitchell museum. “Betty was so passionate about learning about Native peoples through their art and spreading the mission of this museum to promote and share a deeper understanding of Native American peoples. Both she and John wanted to share their passion with as many people as possible, which is why we are excited to honor her legacy during our free Community Day event.”
On Saturday, October 26, The Mitchell Museum will host Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell Day. The event includes free museum admission. Visitors can view the museum’s newest exhibit, Cultural Identities: Mixed Blood, which takes a look at the ways in which Native American people identify and are identified. Other exhibits include Another View of American Indian Fine Art and New Treasures of Our Collection. Our permanent exhibits include artifacts from Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Northwest and Arctic area tribes. Other activities include kid’s crafts, live music, and story time at the teaching lodge. Food and light refreshments will be served. Saturday museum hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The museum will pay special tribute to Mrs. Mitchell during the event.
“The years that Betty spent with my father were the happiest years of their lives in part because the museum gave them such a wonderful focus. The museum was truly her labor of love,” said former Mitchell Museum board member and step-daughter Reed Mitchell Hagee.
In 1997, Mrs. Mitchell was instrumental in securing a permanent building for the Mitchell Museum, which had been part of Kendall College since its founding in 1977. The Mitchell Museum moved into its permanent space at 3001 Central Street in Evanston, formerly the site of the Terra Museum of American Art. In 2006, it became an independent, non-profit institution.
Today, The Mitchell Museum houses around 10,000 artifacts, and is one of only a handful of museums in the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history and culture of American Indian and First Nation peoples throughout the United States and Canada. In 2012, The Mitchell Museum was named “Best Museum of The North Shore: Up and Comer” by Make it Better magazine, won the Superior award by the Illinois Association of Museums and was named a national finalist by the American Association of State and Local History award program. Much of this growth and recognition was due, in part, to Mrs. Mitchell’s tireless dedication.
“We weren’t just gathering artifacts, we were gathering friends along the way,” said Betty Mitchell