Some things get better upon closer inspection and the Michigan League is one of them, with its beautiful rooms and artwork.
To view the details in person is, of course, the ideal experience, but now anyone can get a peek of the treasures by watching the newly created Docent Tour of the Michigan League video, produced by University Unions.
In addition to a tour of the various rooms, paintings, sculpture and other artifacts found in the League, the video tells of the creation of the building itself, which was constructed in 1929. The Michigan League was the first building for women created by funds raised by a group of dedicated U-M women.
The content for the video also was created by women, alumnae Jean Dickinson (’49) and Sheila Sikkenga (’61). Sikkenga also serves as narrator. They were in the process of documenting the history of the building and art pieces when the video idea came about.
Working with the University Unions Graphic Design office and LSA Screen Arts and Culture student Chase Becsey (’13), they parlayed their notes into a script, and the rest is history, literally.
The video shows a great deal of notable art in the Michigan League, much of it created by professors from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. One popular piece, hanging in the alcove, is a watercolor of the League Garden created by the late Mignonette Chang, who was an art professor at U-M.
Also notable are the Manchu Wall hangings in the Kalamazoo Room. These tapestries were presented to the League by U-M alumnae of Tientsin, China. They were made out of one robe that dates back to the Royal Manchu Dynasty and is now well over 200 years old.
Another highlight is the painted murals, “The Ladies of the League,” in the Hussey Room.
Painted along the top third of the four walls, they were created by James Edwin McBurney of Chicago and depict “notable women of the world” (decided upon by the League architects Pond and Pond).
The women selected were Joan of Arc, Isabella of Spain and Elizabeth of England, Isabella and Beatrice d’Este and Vittoria Colonna, Zenobia and Hypatia, Aisha, Cornelia, Judith, Artemisia, Sappho and Aspasia, Mumtaz-I-Hahal, and Empress Tz’u His. The North Wall depicts “Young American Womanhood,” a scholar, an athlete and a belle —”modern” women.
The Blagdon Room, once a non-denominational chapel for spiritual reflection, contains a beautiful stained glass window designed by architects Pond and Pond, and executed by the Linden Glass Co. of Chicago.
Dickinson and Sikkenga enjoyed the video experience and working with the student videographer to bring the building treasures to life.
“I occasionally lead a tour of the League for returning alumnae, and now with the video, more people will want to see the building and will appreciate what’s in it,” said Dickinson.