The Burma Studies Foundation was established in 1986 to promote the study, understanding and appreciation of Burma including its people, society, art, literature, language, history, religion and culture. The Foundation was formed to bring together in a single place the scarce resources on Burma by establishing the world's first Center for Burma Studies. The Foundation encourages friends of Burma to donate funds and materials to the Foundation so that it may support the Center for Burma Studies at Northern Illinois University. It also strongly promotes the sharing of resources with other institutions interested in Burma.
The Burma Studies Foundation is a non-political, charitable organization with the following goals:
The Foundation is administered by trustees originally selected by the Burma Studies Group, an organization of international friends of Burma, affiliated with the Association for Asian Studies. The Trustees represent perpetually the interests of the donors in the promotion of Burma Studies. The current Foundation chairman is:
Julian K. Wheatley
1427 Henry Clay Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118
The Foundation's unique legal relationship to the Center for Burma Studies insures that Burmese art and archival items placed at the Center remain under the aegis of the Foundation. The Center also must notify donors who approach it directly that gifts should be channeled through the Foundation. The Center operates under important conditions that require it to display art, and upon request, provide access to materials and records. Administrative and financial guarantees from the University support the Center. Foundation trustees ensure that the Center continues to meet the legal conditions under which it receives Foundation support.
As a charitable/educational organization, gifts, bequests, legacies, and transfers to the Foundation are deductible for tax purposes to the full extent of the law in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 under which the Foundation operates. All donations accepted are formally acknowledged, by the Foundation and the Center. The Foundation advises donors to have objects such as art and books appraised before donation, as neither the Foundation nor the Center may legally function in this capacity.
The Burma collections at Northern Illinois University include the Burma Art Collection housing objects from Konrad and Sarah Bekker, Paul J. Bennett, John and Lorene Lacey, Richard M. Cooler, The Moore's, Frank and Helen Trager, and others.
Extensive bibliographic holdings pertaining to Burma are conserved in the Southeast Asia and Special Collections of Founder's Memorial Library. An impressive map collection may be viewed in the Davis Hall Map Library.
Course offerings pertaining to Burma include Burmese art and culture, Burmese language and history. The Burma Studies Center hosts biennial conferences on Burma Studies which on occasion may be held at other venues. It also organizes exhibitions and participates in community outreach programs. 1997 was marked by the launching of the Journal of Burma Studies, an annual scholarly adjudicated publication jointly sponsored by the Burma Studies Group, the Center for Burma Studies and the Northern Illinois University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies.