International Garst collection opens at Global Village Museum

The Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures, 200 W. Mountain Avenue in Fort Collins opens a major retrospective exhibition of Warren and Genny Garst’s expansive collection, tangible evidence of exotic lives spent directing and filming the production of dozens of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television specials.

A native of Douglas, Wyo., and a resident of Fort Collins for several decades now, Warren Garst, 93, plans to be on hand for the Feb. 6 opening in the museum’s main gallery. As part of First Friday Art Walk, admission will be half price between 6 and 9 p.m. A free VIP and members only opening is from 4 to 6 p.m., before the Gallery Walk.

The exhibition will feature “spears, bows, arrows, masks, photos, diary entries and ivory carvings from around the world” according to Mary Jean Currier, Garst’s close friend who is in charge of assisting him in disseminating his collection. A copy of Zoolexicon, the encyclopedia of animals Warren spent his life writing will be on display. Nearly 20,000 slides have been donated to Colorado State University and the Morgan Library there. The University of Wyoming is the recipient of the extensive Garst library. Family members receive many other items.

“We’re hoarders,” Garst said with a smile referring to himself and his wife, Genny, from a Colorado ranching family, who died in 2013.

A necklace Genny treasured, made up of charms from all over the world will be on display along with a description of each charm. They range from coral from a Fiji Island beach to castanets from the Canary Islands, part of an elephant tusk from Zimbabwe, a cuckoo clock from Switzerland, a Chianti bottle from Italy and a representation of New York’s Statue of Liberty.

Both Genny and Warren earned degrees in engineering and practiced their professions, he “punching wells for Stanolind Oil in Colorado and Wyoming,” and she as a flight test engineer before they met in 1955.

Following their marriage in 1958, Genny returned to her work as a computer programmer for Martin Marietta in Denver and Warren filmed bears in Yellowstone Park. Unhappy about being separated, Genny signed on as the first person to teach computer programming at then Colorado A & M in Fort Collins and Warren used the spousal discount to complete a master’s degree in zoology, at the same time producing educational films for Encyclopedia Britannica Films.

Some of his footage found its way to the producers of Zoo Parade, then Wild Kingdom and the Garsts found themselves signing a contract embarking them on a temporary assignment that lasted 25 years.

For more information about “Wild Kingdom Revisited: Warren and Genny Garst International Collection,” which runs through June 3, contact museum director LaVon Blaesi at 970-221-4600 or write to info@globalvillagemuseum.org.

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