Honoree

Raymond J. Wielgus

AWARDS

Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion (1990)
Wielgus Gallery dedication ceremony at the IU Art Museum
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich

BIOGRAPHY

Raymond Wielgus began collecting art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas with his wife, Laura, in the 1950s. They became aware of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at IU through Roy Sieber, a friend and professor of African art history at IU. They began donating to IU soon after, giving their first gift in 1962 and continuing throughout their lives. Their giving culminated in 1990 when they donated their entire collection to the Eskenazi Museum of Art at IU. They also donated the finances to create the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Curatorship in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, a curatorial endowment to support the collection. The Raymond and Laura Wielgus Fund was also set up to make certain the museum's collections in these areas continue.

The Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Eskenazi Museum of Art at IU was dedicated on April 4, 1990. At that time, President Ehrlich presented the Wielgus's with the Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion for Distinguished Achievement. The Wielgus Collection is now in the permanent collection of the Eskenazi Museum of Art at IU.

Wielgus was an industrial product designer by trade. He retired to Tucson in 1970 and began taking antique firearms and engraving them with intricate designs and inlaying them with gold. He had no formal training in this process but continued to hone his craft for the next 30 years. By the time of his death in 2010, he had created over 60 "art guns." The Wielgus Collection, a collection of his original creations, is now housed at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in the Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming.

Raymond Wielgus passed away on January 18, 2010, in Tucson, Arizona.