Souvenir collectors share their stories at Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures’ interactive exhibit

Linae Warden started collecting paper beer coasters in her 20s when she backpacked through Europe with her husband. Why beer coasters? They were cheap, easy to carry and you could try the local beers.

Warden displayed and spoke about her souvenir collection at the Inside Scoop: Collectors’ Stories interactive exhibit at the Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures on Thursday, Aug. 25. The event displayed people’s collections of items they have obtained while traveling or living in another country. Presenters talked about their collections, ranging from a decorative pig collection to a collection of charms.

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Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures outreach coordinator Leisa Taylor thought of the idea for this exhibit and organized the evening’s events.

“The idea came up because we have so many international travelers in northern Colorado,” Taylor said. “I think they like hearing each other’s stories. This is a way for them to tell their stories.”

Most people at the interactive exhibit started their collections by chance when they or a loved one found a cool gift while traveling.

John Pfeiffenberger said he started his collection when he obtained a small bear statue made by the Zuni tribe.

“We were in a trading post in Arizona, and I found this bear fetish,” Pfeiffenberger said. “The bear represents strength and healing, so I decided that this would be my spirit animal, and I’ve been carrying this with me ever since that day.”

Pfeiffenberger holds his Zuni fetish good luck charm. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)
Pfeiffenberger holds his Zuni fetish good luck charm. (Tony Villalobos May| Collegian)

Pfeiffenberger and his wife now search for bear souvenirs in untraditional stores, such as thrift stores and antique stores, instead of regular gift stores filled with stuff that he said is mostly made in China and Mexico.

Former Colorado State University fashion and merchandizing professor Jan Else displayed a collection of various items with elephants on them. One item was a tapestry that she said she utilized in the classroom at CSU to teach students about textiles.

Lynda Lloyd, another presenter, has collected watches ever since her teenage sons got her what she described as funky-looking watch for Christmas. She not only collects watches, but she wears them on most days. Llyod said when she was teaching elementary school, her students caught on and would eagerly ask each day which watch she was wearing.

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Lloyd slips on one of her watches. (Tony Villalobos May| Collegian)
Lloyd slips on one of her watches. (Tony Villalobos May| Collegian)

With multiple collections being shared and plenty of audience interaction, Taylor said the event was successful.

“I think the attendance was great, the participation was great and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy hearing each other’s experiences,” Taylor said.

But the questions still remains. Why do people collect souvenirs?

“They are proof that you were there,” Warden said.