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Bring out your antiques here comes the Roadshow

By Miriam Weisberg
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 10, 2005
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Ever see that show on PBS where people freak out because they find out that some heirloom of theirs is actually worth thousands of dollars? Wouldn't it be sweet to be one of those people who finds out their ugly antique given to them by their grandma is actually a priceless piece of historical art? Owners of any antique or native Southwestern item who have wondered about its origin and/or worth will be excited about the Arizona State Museum's upcoming event, its very own version of "Antiques Roadshow," the Southwestern Art Dealers Roadshow.

The museum has been an important anthropological institution to the Southwest since 1883, and it provides cultural, historical and educational art to the university.

One of Tucson's most prominent art dealers, and one of the Southwestern Roadshows' appraisers, Michael D. Higgins, explains the importance of the museum, and how the roadshow is part of a plan to get the community more involved with the museum and its programs.

The museum group, Friends of the Arizona State Museum, has planned a year of exciting events along with the Southwestern Roadshow.

"In the last year we formed a new group called Friends of the Arizona State Museum Collection made up of dealers, scholars, collectors and other museum people. We formed this group to help sustain and upgrade the collection at the Arizona State Museum," said Higgins.

"We're really trying to get a lot of public support for the Arizona State Museum. For so many years a lot people haven't really supported the museum like they should, and the museum is doing all these great events to gain public support so people can really see what a great asset the museum is to the community," Higgins said.

A lot of people often call the museum or bring in their antique items and ask curators about their historical and cultural value, but the curators are unable to give appraisals because of legal reasons and also lack of value expertise.

"We decided (the Southwestern Roadshow) would be a good idea because people need to find out what they have, whether for insurance purposes, just because they really want to know, if they want to hand it down to their kids or to find out for sure if it's real," Higgins said. "If (their antique items) are real, they might need to find out their value, if they want to donate their items to the museum or also to get information about conservation measures so they can take care of their things."

A handful of dealers and experts plan to give antique owners appraisals for their pieces. Higgins, owner of a gallery for 32 years, which is the oldest standing gallery in Arizona dealing with antique American Indian material, will be providing values and information on items.

Also providing appraisals and expertise is Mark Bahti, a contemporary American Indian art dealer, owner of Bahti Indian Arts, 4300 N. Campbell Ave., and son of famous art dealer, Tom Bahti. Another appraiser is Mark Sublette, owner of the Medicine Man Gallery, who also specializes in American Indian art. Museum curators will be available to provide other anthropological insight for the items.

The museum's Southwest Roadshow will take place Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is free to the Friends of the ASM Collection, $20 for nonmembers and $15 for members.

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