by Janet Semanik, development specialist, LLCC Foundation
Travel … seeing our country, the world. It’s on the “to do” list of many during life or possibly retirement, but for some isn’t always practical or doable. That makes the lasting legacy of a Springfield couple and their worldwide journeys truly a gift that keeps on giving.
An amazing collection of art, artifacts and more from the global migrations of architect Phil Trutter and his wife, Kitty, were bequeathed to Lincoln Land Community College after Mr. Trutter passed in 2000. This, along with a generous cash gift, established the Philip and Mary Kathryn Trutter Museum on the college’s Springfield campus. It was Phil’s vision to have a museum that would share the couple’s affection for learning and travel and offer those unable to see the world an opportunity to do so through their collection.
Both Phil and Kitty Trutter were Springfield natives. Phil’s love of art was inspired early on by his mother. As a boy he took classes at the Springfield Art Association and that love blossomed into an eventual career in architecture. His designs dot the Springfield landscape, mostly in schools like the original Griffin High School and Washington and Jefferson Middle Schools, but also the Municipal Center West and Capitol Airport. The couple married in 1943 and the journey began.
In three-plus decades, the Trutters visited more than 100 countries and principalities and, along the way, collected a vast array of cultural items. In all they spanned the globe about 10 times. Their collection includes about 750 cultural items of interest as well as extensive travelogues written by Mrs. Trutter, maps, coins, currency, slides, furniture and much more. The couple’s home became a museum of sorts, as they lived among their collection.
After Kitty died in 1976, Phil stopped travelling, but continued collecting. Ever the student, Phil was well into his 70s when he began taking art classes at Lincoln Land Community College. Because of local friendships, and a new one with one of his art instructors, Jack Madura, his vision for a museum as a way to share his and Kitty’s love of travel and learning was born.
The Philip and Mary Kathryn Trutter Museum opened in 2004. A third of the estate’s cash gift went to establish healthcare scholarships for LLCC students, with the remaining portion left to establish and maintain the museum. The building that houses the museum, the Trutter Center, is possible in part because of that forward-thinking gift.
The latest exhibit at the museum is “Small World – Near to Far” and features many of the Trutter Collection’s small items and artifacts, as well as some of its big and bold signature art from around the world. And, to celebrate the talent of the world close to home, the exhibit also features the artwork of current and retired LLCC art faculty and professionals, making it a celebration of talent both near and far.
If you haven’t been to LLCC in a while, I invite you to visit our campus and see how it has grown. I believe the group of visionary leaders that started the college in the late 60s would be proud. Their foresight has changed the lives of many for the better through education. Take in our exhibit or take a class. Attend one of our free Sunday recitals or join us October 8 at the next in our Asian film series. A love of learning will enrich your life. It certainly did for Phil and Kitty Trutter, and we thank them for it.