In this interview, Executive Director & Chief Curator of the Polk Museum of Art, Dr. H. Alexander Rich discusses the exhibition “Spirits: Ritual and Ceremonial African and Oceanic Art from the Dr. Alan and Linda Rich Collection” with the collectors.
Over the course of four decades, Dr. Alan and Linda Rich have displayed a passion for helping others, traveling the world and bringing medical care to those in need. With his profession as an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon and hers as an occupational therapist trained to help Alan in clinics and in surgeries, the Riches worked together to transform the lives of many in need of critical eye care. While working in clinics in Papua New Guinea and throughout Africa, the Riches also immersed themselves in the diverse artistic cultures of the countries they visited. Along the way, they acquired a collection of ritual and ceremonial objects that fill their home today. In this Polk Museum original exhibition, these artifacts, most of which speak to the close spiritual communion between humans and animals, will be displayed publicly for the first time.