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Ray Bartlett is made an honorary king by the Masai tribe. (Courtesy Photo)

“Out Of Africa & Into Artesia” is currently on display at the Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center.

The exhibit features the Ray and Helen Bartlett African Animal Trophy Collection, collected when the Bartletts went on an African safari in 1960. Included in the exhibit are mounted trophies plus several hides and a collection of objects from the Masai tribe.

The Bartletts, along with Morrison and Thelma Livingston, and James Allen, went to eastern Africa on safari in 1960. The party landed in Nairobi, Kenya, and proceeded to travel through parts of Kenya and Tanzania accompanied by two guides, 20 servants, five trucks, and two land rovers.

One highlight of the safari was camping at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, where a rhino charged them (this happened more than once on the trip). The group also got caught in a Cape Buffalo stampede during the safari.

Another highlight of the trip was when the group encountered a group of Masai warriors traveling on a peace mission to another tribe, and the two groups traveled together for a short time. Ray was made an honorary king of the tribe after bagging a lion (his hide is included in the exhibit) during a ceremony that involved hoisting him onto the Masai’s shoulders during their Simba dance.

Ray Bartlett later told friends that the safari was a lot of fun — “a bunch of country boys in Africa that could shoot.” Their safari organizers were impressed that the group actually knew how to aim and fire their guns.

The collection on display includes the lion skin, a leopard skin, and a topi hide. Among the mounted trophies are an oryx, a wart hog, a wildebeest, gazelles, impalas, and many others.

The Bartletts also brought home many objects crafted by the Masai, including a shield and spear, jewelry, a mask, and a collection of carved animals. Ray used to invite school groups to tour his study, where he proudly showed off his collection.

Today, we continue the Bartletts’ tradition of sharing this collection with everyone in Artesia.

This collection will be on display in the Art Center June through August during regular museum hours: 9 a.m. – noon and 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 1-5 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 748-2390.