This spring the Mazza Museum published Mazza from A to Z, its very own picture book thanks to the support of donors Joseph and Judith Conda. A collaboration of museum staff and illustrator Jenny Hanf ’16 who completed her Bachelor of Arts in children’s book illustration at the University of Findlay this spring, the book follows a menagerie of animal “students” on a class field trip through the Mazza Museum, while guiding readers through the letters of the alphabet.
Now available for purchase in the museum’s gift shop, the book is made possible by a generous donation from Joseph Conda, in honor of his wife, Judith Conda and her lifelong commitment to education. “I see the book as an introduction to the Mazza Museum as well as museums and art in general,” said Judith Conda.
“The Conda’s gift will allow Mazza to publish and print the book so that the children, classes and families who visit the museum can purchase it at an affordable price,” said Sapp. “This souvenir will add to the museum experience, making it possible to repeatedly relive the visit. The small profit made on the book sales will replenish the fund to republish the book year after year.”
The Condas considered a number of philanthropic proposals, but giving to the Mazza Museum had great longevity and value to them. “We chose Mazza because it’s educational, sustainable and has value for all children and even adults,” they said. “We always try to look for sustainability. Some things come and go as well as change over time, but in our view the museum is very sustainable and has a huge opportunity for impact,” said Joseph Conda, executive vice president for H.D. Smith, a national wholesaler in the healthcare distribution industry. “Even as we shift toward electronic mediums, literature will always be important. Visual learning is key,” Judith and Joseph added together.
“I didn’t appreciate the full value of illustration, of what a story would be without it until I visited the Mazza Museum,” said Judith. “You can read the book through just by looking at the illustrations.” For many years Judith was an educator in Wood County, but it wasn’t until after her daughter organized a trip for Toledo Museum of Art Ambassadors that she had the opportunity to tag along and visit the Mazza Museum. “After that, I was hooked,” she said. “I wanted to share what an incredible place this is with people that I know.” Judith has since been to the museum for tours as well as special events including the Mazza Summer Conference, where participants hear Mazza artists share personal stories about their work and enjoy pull-out sessions on topics in literature, education, writing, illustration and behind the scenes at the museum.
“The Mazza blends our passions for education and culture. We’re at a point in our lives where we’ve been involved with a number of nonprofits, but we want to begin to focus our impact,” Joseph and Judith explained together. “It’s another way to connect people to learning. A child’s learning is at its peak and these kinds of programs reach them early and begin to shape and form some of their values and attitudes.”
Illustrating Mazza from A to Z has been a hands-on learning experience for Jenny Hanf. “Making this book taught me a lot about thinking outside the box, and it was a great lesson in collaboration,” she said. “Above everything it was an incredibly fun experience to go through with everyone at Mazza.”
Mazza’s gift shop is open during the same hours as the museum: Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and at other times by appointment.