Edward-Dean Museum’s silk Chinese robe collection steals the spotlight

The elegance of silk Chinese Robes (part of the EDM permanent collection) glistened at the Edward-Dean Museum, 9401 Oak Glen Rd., Cherry Valley as guest lecturer Brenda Buller Focht shared their history.

Dragons were onsite at the Friends of the Edward-Dean Museum’s Annual January, 2019 meeting - but it turns out that members and guests were not alarmed. That’s because the friendly dragons were presented by guest lecturer, Brenda Buller Focht, who is the curator at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. 

Describing the EDM’s exquisite collection, “Chinese Robes,” Focht, who said she has always loved Chinese textiles, explained that the various dragons that adorn the beautiful silk robes on display have symbolic differences.  For instance, a five-claw dragon embroidered or appliqued on a Chinese robe, was reserved to be worn only by imperial  members of the last imperial Ching dynasty (circa 1644-1911). A four-claw dragon had less status than an imperial dragon and decorated non-imperial robes.    

The lecturer-curator said she was quite envious when she first saw the brilliantly colored Chinese robes, and she is a contributing author to the museum’s “Chinese Robes” catalog book which is offered for sale at the museum’s gift shop. Focht also complimented the museum for its care and conservation of the artifact garments. 

The preservation and conservation of the museum’s decorative arts collection is a fundamental part of the volunteer Friends program, which is financed by contributions and EDM memberships. As summarized by 2018 Friends president, Joyce Bricker, conservation efforts include a Friends Board of Directors, three-year project to restore several paintings which include 16th century-style paintings of a series depicting the downfall and redemption of the “Prodigal Son” as described in the Christian bible’s New Testament gospel of Luke.

Bricker also introduced new members and the board of director candidates, Margaret Ann and Mark Hepburn - a husband/wife team with a legal expertise background; Bonnie Ruiz; and J. Giles Waines. Joyce complimented the candidates for their spontaneous interest in volunteering to serve on the Friends Board soon after their memberships were official. 2018 treasurer, Jeff Elser, was appreciatively applauded for serving as treasurer during the past ten years.

Bricker also shared that she and Stacey Chester, attended a Beaumont City Council meeting where Mayor Nancy Carroll presented a proclamation to recognize the museum as well as the Friends 50th Anniversary, 2018.  Stacey Chester accepted the award, thanked the mayor and council for the recognition and encouraged those present to consider the EDM as a possible future location for city events.   

Chester declared that she loves and cares for the museum property “as if it is my child.”  She shared her hope that her children will take to heart her personal philosophy that “one receives from life what one puts into it.” Chester who attends board of director meetings that are open to all Friends members, is under the auspices of Riverside County as museum manager. 

On Saturday, Feb. 9, 3-5 p.m., the museum at 9401 Oak Glen Rd., Cherry Valley will host a fascinating animation exhibit, admission-free opening reception using early film shorts and original works from the studios of Disney, Warner Bros., and Hanna Barbera. Annual Friends memberships start at $15 and up with free entry privileges.  Call the museum at (951) 845-2626 for details.

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