A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the news. Click on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.
Treasures in the Smithsonian’s Attic – Washingtonian
“In the 158 years since, the Smithsonian has found room for a steam-powered adult tricycle from the 1880s; a violin that served as a Civil War diary, with entries etched into the back; and a prized set of jewel-encrusted trinkets, including a pacifier, a yo-yo, a mousetrap, and a sardine can. There’s a stretch of pavement from Route 66, a cache of Y2K memorabilia, and Evel Knievel’s motorcycle. There’s Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and his handball; Theodore Roosevelt’s writing desk and his original teddy bear; John Glenn’s spacesuit and the tube (yes, tube) of puréed beef he carried into orbit.
Some at the Smithsonian may bristle about its reputation as “the nation’s attic,” but it’s not a term of disparagement. Attics are where we store things we love and can’t bear to part with, even if we aren’t sure why. We know things will be safe there, and for that reason attics are just as important psychologically as physically.”
A local artist has offered to paint over the whimsical road signs erected years ago in the Amarillo area by the criminally indicted Stanley Marsh 3, who is most famous for creating the Cadillac Ranch. The signs are part of a public art project called Dynamite Museum. The project started in the early 1990s with a solitary “Road Does Not End” sign. Thousands of these signs — no two are the same — are sprinkled all over the region. Like the author of this piece, I have mixed feelings. It’s understandable that some owners find the signs distasteful in light of the allegations against the artist, but is painting over them the best way to proceed? Is removing the signs and storing them better? Is doing either robbing Amarillo of one of its most unique and beloved features? Is leaving them in place insensitive to Marsh’s accusers?
This controversy brings to mind other cases of artists accused of criminal acts, like Michael Jackson and Roman Polanski. When given a choice, do you listen to Jackson’s music? Watch Polanski films? What would you do if one of Marsh’s signs was on your property?
Book Review: Talking Appalachian – The Kaintuckeean
“Their is no singular Appalachian voice. Rather it is a collection of dialects spread over many parts of the country from upstate New York to rural Mississippi. In Talking Appalachian, published earlier this year by the University of Kentucky Press, editors Amy D. Clark and Nancy M. Hayward examine ‘The Englishes of Appalachia.'”
“In her poem Spell Check, Anne Shelby writes: ‘Now it wants to replace homeplace with just someplace. Is this the same spell that changed proud to poor, turned minnows into memories?’
In all our support of “buy local” we have often failed to support our local identity. Talking Appalachian reminds us to also support a person’s voice, identity, and community.”
During a five day riot over the drafting of NYC men into the Union Army, hundred of people were killed and injured and property was destroy. “It was the most grave, the most tumultuous event in New York City history between the Revolutionary War and September 11, 2001,” yet there are no significant permanent markers or remembrances in the city. Why? Because the riots laid bare racism and corruption. The Bowery Boys ask, “… how does a city acknowledge a self-inflicted tragedy? Who wants to remind America of how duplicitous many New Yorkers were during the Civil War?”
Saving America For Posterity at the Library of Congress – CBS Sunday Morning
The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, is preserving the past and the present for the future.
“When it opened in 1897, the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building was the first public building in the United States with electricity. Walk in and prepare to be in awe. There is a Gutenberg Bible in perfect condition . . . a draft of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting . . . the earliest map with the name “America” printed on it, from 1507. But even surrounded by treasures, it’s hard to comprehend that the Library of Congress contains more than 155 million items.” It is currently archiving billions of Tweets! Click through to learn more about the strange and interesting things the library is keeping safe for future generations.