Daily Archives: July 24, 2013

Come See the Social Network Age!

Ever wonder what life was like a hundred years ago? Visit the Smithsonian’s 2013: The Way We Were exhibit and get a glimpse of that fascinating year!

First thing in the exhibit is getting to go on a mirror of Facebook, the craze that so many dedicated their lives to. At the turn of the Millenium the only way to make friends was to physically interact with them, but Facebook made it possible to make friends with thousand of people you never met!

The content of the Facebook archive is a page spreading the word about overthrowing Muamar Kadafi, one of the many dictators ousted by grassroots revolutions around this time. You will be able to look at some of the weapons used by everyday people to fight oppression.

In 2013 the first Pope from the Americas, Francis, was elected. Many people were moved by his accesability and dedication to the poor. On display will be his humble white vestments, displayed next to his predecesor Benedict XVI’s Liberace-esque style.

Pope Francis is not the only notable South American populist you’ll see here. Visit the exhibit and you will be able to see the mummified body of Venezuala’s Presidente Hugo Chavez! Many were saddened by his death in 2013, so his body was preserved following a long tradition amongst leftist leaders.

After the string of displays dealing with global politics, you will be able to see the Pop Culture of 2013. Look at the outfits of eccentric 2010s pop divas such as Kay Perry and Lady Gaga, and wrap your head around bizarre subcultures of the era like the Hipsters. Listen to songs on the 2013 Top 40, and be able to watch hit shows like Pawn Stars, Adventure Time, and Breaking Bad. Songs and shows will be availible in the gift shop.

In 2013 a whistleblower named Edward Snowden revealed to the public that a government branch called the National Security Administration was cataloging all American phone calls and the internet activity of anyone they were 55% sure was foriegn. We have an interactive map which follows Snowden’s trail as he elluded the government he once worked for. You will be able to see displays which show how monitering was done, and get to control a simulation of drones.

Since we don’t want to end it on an Orwellian note, the exhibit ends with a display of the Britain’s newborn prince George Alexander Louis Windsor.

Call now and reserve your tickets for 2013: The Way We Were!



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Illuminating Manuscripts and Staining Glass

For many people two art forms define medieval art, illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows. The former was a product of the Dark Ages, while the latter appeared in the Romanesque period. Around the 13th century the European art scene began to shift from Romanesque to Gothic. Like it’s predecessor, this new style built upon previous art forms to create works unique to this time. By this time bookmaking was as prosperous as ever, and books were increasingly diverse. History began to flourish again as bookmakers were not merely copying primary sources, they were writing secondary sources. Like with the Bibles and Psalters, these history books were decorated with full color illustration that could tell the story to those who couldn’t read (or know Latin). Non-fiction in general became commonplace, providing invaluable information on how people saw the world. Bestiaries provide information about all manner of animals, most of which are none existent while others real but with misinformation. Though prose fiction as we know it today hadn’t really developed yet, poetry was widespread and many manuscripts are filled with new poems. So much secular literature hadn’t been common since Roman times and they show that while the Middle Ages were very religious, it was also an earthy time when people had a raw sense of humor.

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Though stained glass begun during the Romanesque era, the art matured in the Gothic era and that is when we start to see some very notable work. Unlike illuminated manuscripts, stained glass was still confined largely to the cathedrals so the content remained primarily religious. All (or almost all ) of the Gothic cathedrals utilize stained glass, so it is easy to see how the windows swiftly became so sophisticated. The primary goal of the windows was to tell Biblical stories to the illiterate; the “Poor Man’s Bible” I discussed last week. Abstraction also became common, sometimes embellishing scenes and other times dominating an entire window. These abstract designs make stained glass an interesting parallel with illuminated manuscripts. Perhaps one reason we find stained glass so captivating is because we use windows to see outside and let light in, not to decorate the interior of a room.

window window2 window3It is often said the art is a reflection of the time and place it was created in. I think for the Middle Ages that is especially true. While books were produced it is important to note that they are one of the few available media forms. The number of books made is miniscule by later standards. Many later books and resources have been written about the time, but they are often filled with errors. This leaves art as vital voice for Medieval beliefs. Yes books were filled with art, but not everyone knows Latin. However, anyone can look at art; and scholars and art historians have made understanding it fairly easy.






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