The Montana Museum of Arts and Culture will host a pair of events on Thursday that tie into an exhibition of artwork from a World War II prisoner of war.
Through Saturday, Sept. 12, the museum at the University of Montana is displaying work by Montana artist Ben Steele called “Human Condition.” Steele, who grew up in Roundup, is a survivor of the Bataan Death March and was a prisoner of war for 41 months.
Steele created a large collection of drawings and oil paintings about his experience, while recovering at a Spokane hospital from starvation, dehydration, torture and illness sustained as a prisoner.
In 2010, Steele and his wife donated the artwork to the MMAC, with a stipulation that it be put on display every four years so each class of UM students could come and see it.
“This is another opportunity to come and see the impacts of war through his drawings and learn from his experiences,” said Barbara Koostra, director of the MMAC.
In a pair of events supporting the exhibition, the museum will host a free screening of a documentary about prisoners of war called “Never the Same,” which will be held in the Masquer Theatre of the PAR/TV building on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Koostra said showing the documentary is one of the ways the museum is able to enhance the experience of its exhibitions.
“We think it’s very important and part of our interdisciplinary mission. We always want to draw in the various disciplines that together highlight art as a platform,” she said.
Earlier in the afternoon, the museum will host a meet-and-greet event with Jan Thompson, director of the documentary, and Emmy-award-winning actress Loretta Swit, who narrated the film.
The party will be held in the lobby of the Missoula Children’s Theater starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the MMAC office at 243-2019.
Swit and Thompson also will be conducting a question-and-answer session after the free screening of the film. Steele is one of the veterans whose story is featured in the documentary, Koostra said.
“Swit is a huge fan of his. A huge fan of all veterans. She likes to be present at events like this where veterans are highlighted and their sacrifice is honored,” she said.