The Growing Miscellany of Intriguing Relics
In the early 1950s, what is now considered a treasured landmark on the campus of Starr was initially met as a peculiar gift. The story began when a Detroit attorney contacted Uncle Floyd. His client, Mrs. Emelie H. Brueckner, was interested in a bequest to Starr Commonwealth to build an art center. Starr was more interested in a cottage for his growing campus. However, as Keith J. Fennimore wrote in his history of Floyd Starr, Faith Made Visible, when hearing that the funds would be lost should Starr decline the offer of an art building, “Starr’s interest in the arts increased remarkably.” Many years later, and after building a collection from across the globe, visitors to the Brueckner Museum will find it only natural to have such a compelling building on campus. After all, beauty is a silent teacher.
The latest exhibit displayed in the museum is thanks to Kimberly Rupert, whose family was stationed in China, among other places, throughout the 1940s and 50s. This collection, which includes items of ivory, jade, furniture, and more arrived in America when the Ruperts were driven out of China in the midst of the Communist Revolution of 1946-49. In honor and memory of her parents, this exhibit will be known as “The Rupert Gallery”, with a plaque commemorating Claude and Sara Rupert. Given the impact of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, particularly the destruction of pre-Communist art, Spring Arbor University’s visiting Chinese professors who visited the Rupert home frequently remarked on the uniqueness of the collection.
Claude and Sara Rupert loved the Chinese people, and delighted in the opportunity to enjoy their art and culture and to share those items and memories with family and friends. We hope that experience may extend to those who have occasion to visit the Rupert Gallery of the Brueckner Museum for years to come. Starr Commonwealth Board of Trustees member and great grandson of Floyd Starr, Randy Neumann, has always held Brueckner Museum dear to the legacy of Starr, and welcomes the latest contribution. “My great-grandfather was very interested in the East,” recalls Neumann. “This gift is a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to the culture, craftsmanship, and beauty of China. I am grateful for the Rupert’s addition, which will touch the lives of many hurting children.”