I passed a wonderful late June week traveling the Hudson River Valley from the Vanderbilt estate in Hyde Park, New York, south along alternating banks of the Hudson to the Edward Hopper house and museum in Nyack. In addition to the 3rd generation Vanderbilts with their (inherited) railroad fortune, my husband and I explored the architectural and material legacy of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, financial speculator Jay Gould, West Point, the Loyalist and slaveholding Philips family, 3 generations of Rockefellers, artist/inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, the writer Washington Irving, and artists Edward and Josephine N. Hopper.
Posted in Bloggers
Tagged with: American memory
, historic houses
, Historic Hudson Valley
, Jay Gould
, New York
, public history
, Washington Irving
In a recent post for Public History Commons, Lara Kelland highlighted “the potential for the democratization of historical knowledge made possible by digital tools and the role of public historians in this process.” Like Kelland, I find the marriage of…
Summertime tourists have been flocking to Cape May to beat the heat for nearly 250 years. Back then most visitors came by boat. Some travelled down the Delaware River from Wilmington, Philadelphia, and points North, while from across Chesapeake Bay came Baltimoreans, residents of Washington DC, and all points South (as well as their slaves). Today many visitors come down the Garden State Parkway (certainly the most direct way for the tourists traveling from New York, New England, and French Canada) but for those starting from Philadelphia or via the Delaware Memorial Bridge there is a better route that offers the opportunity to visit any of several public humanities sites along the way.
Posted in Bloggers
Tagged with: American Museum of Glass
, Cape May
, Emlen Physick House
, Forgotten Warriors Museum
, Historic Cold Spring Village
, Historic Trolley Tours
, Japanese-American internment
, Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum
, Seabrook Educational and Cultural Center
, Victorian Houses
, Vietnam War
, Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center
, World War Two
, ‘Age of Homespun
, ’ Living History Museums
“Please, tell me whether you think the world has changed at all since 1966,” asked Ned Kaufman at the June 5 New Jersey History and Historic Preservation conference in Monmouth County. Chuckles and giggles flowed from the audience. Agreed then that much has changed, he responded, why hasn’t our thinking in preservation also changed? Why are we still pursuing the same goals, working with the same tools, and recruiting the same supporters as we were in 1966?
Over the past month or so a recurring topic has been floating in and out of my consideration so I’d thought I would share. It is the idea of museums as places, not just of learning and inspiration, but of rejuvenation and therapy. It started when a colleague returned from a trip to Europe full of excited stories about the new exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. Art is Therapy is not a typical exhibit where objects are selected for their relevance to a theme and displayed all together in a gallery. This show takes place throughout the museum, with commentary about the art and the space it inhabits posted adjacent to the objects which remain in their normal display areas. The underlying point of the show is to get people to go beyond looking at museum objects as special simply because they are made by a noted artist, or are particularly old or rare, but to appreciate them for how they make you feel regardless of provenance or pedigree.
May is Lower East Side History Month. This brand new annual festival launched earlier this month at Pier 42 with a picnic featuring live music and family activities. More than fifty cultural organizations and community groups have joined together to celebrate the rich, diverse history of the Lower East Side. The organizers aim to “connect our present to our past, exploring how history can inform and inspire our future.” Look for more up-to-date info on Twitter @LESHistMonth.
A week or so ago, a friend and museum colleague posted a link on Facebook to this article published in the Denver Business Journal. It is an opinion piece by David Sneed, CEO of Alpine Fencing. From viewing his company’s website—which offers a nice variety of fences for any of your neighborly needs—I think he would qualify as a typical “joe public” museum goer. This is someone we as museum professionals want hear from. How else will we be able to be relevant to a wider population? We must know what our patrons think, what they want and we should deliver, right?
Building community has turned up as a priority in a wide variety of settings around the region lately, often with the humanities in the driver’s seat. Perhaps in the season when underground bulbs send up the flowers that remind us to appreciate the beauty in nature, it is reasonable to treat the humanities a bit like those flowers. Perhaps this is a chance to take a moment to give a sniff, let our spirits be lifted, and renew our hopes for our work in a troubled world.
On February 20, 2014, I gave a talk at Lehigh University in Bethelehem, PA with the rather unwieldy title of Public/Digital | History/Humanities: Conceptualizing the Digital Public Humanities. As I explained to Julia Maserjian, Digital Scholarship Project Manager at Lehigh’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, who invited me to speak at Lehigh, it was really important to keep that little | symbol in between two parts of my title. That symbol—called a pipe—is used in the UNIX operating system and has a very particular meaning that I wanted to use as to frame my remarks. I’m no UNIX programmer, but when I was about ten years old my father, who is an electrical engineer and knew that I was interested in computers, told me that I should teach myself UNIX. “It’ll be useful,” he said, while handing me an approximately 700 page book on UNIX written for adults with some background in programming.
This past fall I taught an undergraduate course on American material culture. It was my first go at this type of course. I’ve taught “traditional” history courses covering everything from medieval & early modern Europe to American women’s history (my…