Preserve Doc Coffey’s Legacy

100% of $3,300 goal
This campaign ended on August 01, 2020, but you can still make a gift to Western Kentucky University by clicking here!

Did you know “Doc” Coffey? 

A Professor of Agriculture for more than 35 years, Dr. David M. “Doc” Coffey was a world traveler throughout his life. In leading numerous study abroad trips for WKU students and Department of Agriculture colleagues, Doc Coffey collected masks produced by the cultures he visited. He was also given masks as gifts from students, family and friends.

Doc Coffey’s collection of 140 masks now resides at the Kentucky Museum and has been featured in installations including one in the WKU Art Department Corridor Gallery. As the Art Department recalled on their website dedicated to the collection, “Dr. Coffey was an expert at creating community – and many within his broad community of family, colleagues, former students and friends are part of the story of this collection, or ‘faces behind the masks.’”

As we published on our blog, the masks continue to have a significant impact today. Notably, the masks were the primary project for the late Pamela Ryals, who volunteered her time, knowledge, and passion for preserving cultural knowledge and led efforts to catalog and photograph the masks. Additionally, the masks were recently featured in a study conducted by Dr. J. Farley Norman (WKU, Pyschological Sciences) and Gatton Academy student Sydney P. Wheeler (2019, Greenwood High School), which was the first scientific study to look at whether masks can communicate emotion.

For $25, you can adopt one of the masks and ensure the Museum and our faculty, students, and volunteers can continue to document, research, and preserve Doc Coffey’s legacy. All gifts go directly to purchasing conservation supplies for the collection and completing cataloging and digitization of the masks into our online collections portal, KenCat.

To adopt a mask:

  • View the list in the Google doc by clicking here. You will need the “Number” in the second column of the mask(s) you wish to adopt. Be mindful that the third column shows a name if the mask has been adopted.
  • Click the button on this page to make a gift of $25 per mask. 
  • Email with your choice of mask (the "Number"). We will log it on the Google doc.
  • We will process your gift through the WKU Foundation and send a letter with your adoption certificate via mail. Adopter’s names are listed in the mask record (internally and, once complete, our KenCat portal) and on all future exhibit labels associated with the mask.

P.S. Prefer to give via check? Make your check payable to WKU Foundation, with a note for “Coffey Mask” and the Number of the mask, then mail to:

Kentucky Museum

Attn: Tiffany Isselhardt

1906 College Heights Blvd #11092

Bowling Green, KY 42101

Frequently Asked Questions

(1) What if I am unable to donate $25?

You can still participate! Every donation to this campaign – no matter how big or small – helps toward our goal. Consider being an Advocate, and, by sharing your unique link, you can adopt an item through the power of group giving. For instructions, click here.

(2) How will you use the money?

All money raised will be used for collections care and conservation for the Coffey mask collection.

(3) What happens if you reach your goal?

Once all 132 available masks are adopted, additional donations beyond $3,300 will be added to our Collections Fund to provide conservation care for our Folk Art collection, which will undergo extensive cataloging and digitization over the next three years. Those contributing after we reach our goal will be granted an adoption in our Folk Art collection (determined by the Museum), which includes the works of Kentucky folk artists such as Lestel and Ollie Childress and Willie Massey. 

(4) How can I learn more about what you’re doing?

Download our latest Annual Report on all the amazing things we do with our campus and community here:

100% funded in 1 week!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your generosity. We are thrilled to have reached 100% funded in just one week of launching. This means that all of Dr. Coffey's masks have been adopted, and we can proceed with purchasing supplies to undertake conservation of the collection.

As the WKU Foundation will announce on Wednesday, we recently received grant that will enable us to hire a full-time Curator of Folk Art, graduate assistant, and consulting scholar that will fully review, catalog, and digitize the Folk Art collection over the next three years. Your support will ensure that Dr. Coffey's masks will also be rehoused in archival boxes that will keep them protected long into the future as we complete this work. 

As you may know, our Folk Art collection encompasses Dr. Coffey's masks as well as nearly 600 other artifacts, ranging from the wood carvings of Willie Massey to the paintings of Helen LaFrance Orr to the baskets of Leona Waddell. Any additional donations made to this campaign will support adoption of these folk art works, enabling greater conservation of this incredible collection.

Thank you again for your support. We hope you and your families are well.


Tiffany and the Kentucky Museum team

1468 days ago by Tiffany Isselhardt
We're floored!

Greetings Friends,

We are absolutely floored - 93% funded in just five days is absolutely incredible! We are so blessed for your support, both of the collection and of Dr. Coffey's legacy. Thank you.

If you could please continue to share the campaign, it will help us reach 100% funded. Should we reach our goal, additional donations will be used to adopt other items in our Folk Art collection, which consists of works by Kentucky artists such as Helen LaFrance Orr, Unto Jarvi, and Leona Waddell.

As WKU will announce publicly next week, a recently received grant will enable us to hire a full-time staff member, graduate assistant, and consulting scholar that will fully review, catalog, and digitize the Folk Art collection over the next three years. Your support will ensure that Dr. Coffey's masks will also be rehoused in archival boxes that will keep them protected long into the future. 

Again, thank you for your support.


Tiffany Isselhardt and the Kentucky Museum team

1471 days ago by Tiffany Isselhardt
46% in 24 hours!

Hello Friends,

The response to this campaign has been truly awe-inspiring. We are blessed by your generosity, which will help preserve Dr. Coffey's legacy for years to come.

By crowdfunding standards, reaching 10% of a goal in the first day is indicative of a successful campaign. To reach 46% in under 24 hours has not only blown that out of the water, so to speak, but has shown just how much Dr. Coffey lives on in the community he loved. 

Thank you for your gifts, and for your dedication to preserving the legacy of an extraordinary man. 


Tiffany and the Kentucky Museum team

1474 days ago by Tiffany Isselhardt

Donor Affiliations
Gradhat icon73%Alumni
Book icon2%Students
Parent icon5%Parents
Suitcase icon25%Faculty/Staff
Friends icon23%Friends
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