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Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Gala, Sept. 25

Posted Aug. 18, 2010

Fundraising event features iconic fashion designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo as the honorary chairs and kicks off the opening of the much-anticipated “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” exhibit

The Kent State University Museum, recently accredited by the American Association of Museum, will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 25, with a gala event called 25 Years of Dazzle. The museum houses 40,000 objects including fashion, decorative art and an extensive collection of American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings and other decorative arts from the 18th century to the present.

Photo from Kent State University Museum's 25th Anniversary ExhibitThe 25 Years of Dazzle gala is fortunate to have First Lady Michelle Obama’s fashion designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo serve as honorary chairs. The event co-chairs are Bonnie Kane Barenholtz and Elizabeth (Betsy) Carr, both of Aurora, Ohio. The gala takes place at the Kent State University Museum on Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $150 per person, and sponsorships are available at the $250, $500 and $5,000 (table sponsorship) levels. For an invitation or to make reservations, call 330-672-3450. The reservation deadline is Sept. 10.

Featured at the gala event will be the exclusive tour of the Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, a sit-down dinner, raffle, live entertainment, followed by a private screening of a short Katharine Hepburn documentary as introduced by Turner Classic Movies’ host and the evening’s master of ceremonies, Robert Osborne.

Guests will enjoy cocktails in the regal library of the museum and the exclusive opportunity to experience this future internationally touring exhibit, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, which officially opens to the public on Oct. 2. The collection, which was gifted to the Kent State University Museum in 2008 by Hepburn’s estate, includes the starlet’s personal collection of film, stage and television costumes, as well as clothes worn by her for publicity purposes.

The exhibit includes stage costumes from “The Philadelphia Story,” “Without Love” and “Coco;” screen costumes from such classic films as “Stage Door,” “Adam's Rib” and “Long Day's Journey Into Night;” and costumes from many of her television movies, such as “Love Among the Ruins.” In addition, Hepburn's “signature look,” an ensemble of tailored beige trousers and linen jackets, will be spotlighted, as will vintage posters, playbills, photos and other Hepburn-related artifacts.

Guests at the gala will enjoy live music by nationally recognized pianist Jack Hurd and a raffle featuring such items as a weekend stay at the AAA five-diamond rated Walden Country Inn in Aurora; jewelry by Hood & Hoover in Stow and other wonderful items. Guests then will be ushered into the Rockwell Auditorium where Osborne will introduce the private screening of “Katharine Hepburn: All About Me,” a short documentary narrated by Hepburn.

The airy, exquisite Rockwell Atrium will be transformed into an enchanting, shimmering setting taking guests back to yesteryear. Well-known Cleveland interior designer George Beckman and award-winning florist Dean White work their magic with luxurious materials, beads, white calla lilies, roses and twinkle lights to create a magical, glamorous atmosphere for the museum’s special anniversary.

Honorary Chairpersons
Isabel & Ruben Toledo

Bonnie Kane Barenholtz & Elizabeth M. Carr

Kent State University Museum Director
Jean L. Druesedow

George Beckman
Siri Benjamin
Mary Broadbent
Ginny Buckley
Geneva Damron
Bridget Edwards
Mim Gerstenberger
Shawn Gordon
Jim Harris
Christine Iaderosa
Richard John
Betsy Mangin
Linda Sanders
Andrea Senich
Gigi Smith
Sue Taylor
Susan Terkel
Effie Tsengas
Dean White
Esther Whiteleather
Andrea Wlaszyn

History of the Kent State University Museum

Closely linked to the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University, the Kent State University Museum provides students with first-hand experience with historic and contemporary fashions, as well as costumes representing many of the world's cultures. An extensive collection of American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings and other decorative arts combine to give context to the study of design.

The museum serves both the university and the community through exhibitions, public programs and research appointments in the collections.

Opened to the public in October 1985, the Kent State University Museum was founded with an initial contribution from New York dress manufacturers Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers. Their gift included 4,000 costumes and accessories, nearly 1,000 pieces of decorative art and a 5,000-volume reference library. In the 1960s, Shannon Rodgers began collecting what is now considered one of the finest period costume collections in the United States, today totaling more than 40,000 pieces. The Tarter/Miller collection of some 10,000 pieces of glass formed the second major gift to the museum. Together with the other decorative arts collected by Rodgers and Silverman, the museum holds one of the most comprehensive teaching collections of fashionable design from the 18th century to the present.

For more information on the Kent State University Museum, visit

Jerry Silverman (1910-1984)

Born in New York City, Jerry Silverman, a Harvard graduate, left the legal profession to work in the fashion industry. After his service in World War II, he returned to work at Martini Designs and shortly thereafter hired a young designer, Shannon Rodgers. At Martini, Silverman became vice president and sales manager, as well as part owner, and developed a line of cocktail dresses in petite sizes designed by Rodgers. In 1959, he and Rodgers established their own company, Jerry Silverman, Inc. Their business partnership became one of the most successful manufacturers of women's better dresses in the industry, a position it maintained until they sold the business in 1973. At its zenith, the firm operated four factories in Pennsylvania supervised by production manager Sheldon Landau. Silverman's personality and business skills made him a sought after counselor to others, and Silverman and Rodgers filled an important social role in the industry, entertaining lavishly in their city and country homes. Members of the national and local press, buyers from stores of all sizes and fellow members of the industry all enjoyed their hospitality. A love of antiques spurred them to decorate their homes with excellent examples of decorative arts. It was Silverman who added some of his family antiques and many Manchu Dynasty Chinese robes to the growing collection, and when it was time to find a home for the collection, it was Silverman who believed that it should be made available to students. When Kent State President Brage Golding offered to create a museum and develop a curriculum in fashion design and merchandising, Silverman enthusiastically agreed to place the collection at Kent State University.

Shannon Rodgers (1911-1996)

Born in Newcomerstown, Ohio, Shannon Rodgers was encouraged by Cleveland sculptor Waylan Gregory to pursue a career in the arts. He began by working in the New York theatre as an assistant to costume designer Woodman Thompson, making extra money by sketching for various firms in the fashion industry. For one of the plays, “The Warrior's Husband,” starring Katharine Hepburn, Rodgers did the ‘Greek’ ornament on the costumes. Cecil B. DeMille saw the production and hired him to work on his film “Cleopatra.” During the years before World War II, Rodgers worked for almost all the major Hollywood studios as a studio artist. Following his service in the United States Army Transport Service, he was hired in New York by Jerry Silverman. Rodgers was still in uniform since he had no civilian clothes. Twelve years later, they established their partnership, Jerry Silverman, Inc., and the label, Shannon Rodgers for Jerry Silverman. This was the first time Rodger's name had been credited for any of his design work. Their first season was a great success with Rodgers quickly defining his signature style – a simplified version of the fashionable Parisian silhouette accented with a decorative touch that made the dresses immensely appealing to American women. By the early 1960s, Rodgers had begun collecting what was to become one of the largest and finest period costume collections in the United States. Together with the furnishings of Silverman's and Rodgers' homes, this collection forms the core of the Kent State University Museum and provides a comprehensive teaching collection of fashionable design from the 18th century to the present.

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Photo Caption:
The Kent State University Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary with a gala event called 25 Years of Dazzle on Sept. 25. For tickets or more information, call 330-672-3450.

Media Note:

Digital Images are available of the 25th anniversary exhibit as well as key pieces featured in the Katharine Hepburn exhibit.

Media Contacts:
Effie Tsengas,, 330-672-8398
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595