Nassour art collection displays film collection in library

Posted on Apr 28 2015 - 7:59am by McKenna Wierman


As finals week draws nearer and nearer, students are flocking to the J.D. Williams Library to hit the books, crank out essays and fill out study guides. So how about a little entertainment?

The Faulkner Room is playing host to the Entertainment Collectors, Authors and Critics Exhibit. This contains a small portion of the Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection and has been on display since the beginning of the semester and will continue to be showcased until December 18 of this year.

Ellis Nassour, author, Ole Miss alum and contributor to the exhibit, said he feels especially connected to the collection, particularly because it holds a great deal of sentimental value to him.

“The fact that the collection is donated in memory of my parents makes its inclusion in the exhibit all the more special to my brother, John, and me,” Nassour said.

The entire exhibit,  composed of posters, playbills, theater criticisms and illustrations, features donations from three Mississippi collectors: The Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment, Stark Young, and Herschel Brickell Collections.

Nassour has taken a special interest in the exhibit, donating many of his personal trophies and keepsakes to the collection. He began donating in 2000, and saw the ongoing collection become a reality after discussing the possibility with Chancellor Robert Khayat and Dr. Gloria Kellum. The part of the exhibit in the hallway just beyond the Library entrance from the Lyceum will be removed soon and returned to Nassour.

“The bulk of the Collection is my stuff. Collectables from my career in film and theater,” said Nassour.  “Those donating material to the Collection are estates of artists, press agents, actors, film studios, Broadway press offices and theater producers.”

Some elements of shows presented on campus during the 60s are also featured in the collection, Nassour said. He said he hopes Ole Miss students will be able to enjoy his collection and the exhibit just as he was able to accumulate and display his collection over the years of his colorful career.

“There’s not only fun stuff, but Stark Young and Hershell Brickell, an amazing trove from the celebrated careers of these two famous Mississippians,” Nassour said. “It’s quite humbling to have the Nassour Collection in the same exhibit.”

Nassour insisted no one miss the bust of Young and the poster of the film adapted from his novel So Red the Rose in the Faulkner Room.

“If she has time, Dr. Ford might show you some of the trove of autographed Playbills and the volume of Tony Award Playbills — maybe even the Tony Award posters with Hugh Jackman,” said Nassour.

Some elements of Nassour’s collection have received great attention from other eager museums and exhibit spaces. Since the opening of the exhibit, Nassour said he has received a request from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington about some future donations of vintage film posters – some of which date as far back as the silent era.

Nassour said these artifacts were found in the sub basement of the Saenger Opera House in Vicksburg, his home town.  A few months after this find in 1953, the Saenger was destroyed by a tornado. Nassour’s collection is truly an invaluable component of the exhibit, offering students a rare opportunity to see precious heirlooms of the grand old entertainment industry.

Because of the size of the collections, not everything will be on display at once, so it’s important to check in often while the exhibit is on display to see what has been rotated in and out. Nassour mentioned that another venue on campus has put pieces from the collections on display.

“The Ford (Center) has already done a small lobby exhibit of items,” Nassour said. “Since the Williams will be unable to display everything even occasionally, the Ford (Center) will make use of various elements from time to time.”

Nassour is not only proud to honor his parents with the exhibit, but also pleased to share the collection with students and put the breadcrumbs of his life towards good use. More than one third of prominently featured Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection is in circulation to students and faculty. Other elements of the collection not on exhibit include CDs and scripts that are now in the music and theater arts departments being used for research.

“We’re quite happy the Williams thought so highly of the Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection that they spent so much time to make it so vastly entertaining,” Nassour said.

McKenna Wierman