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  • Originally published 08/21/2013

    For kids, a history app meant for museums

    How to get a kid jazzed about the oldest stories in the world in an age of distraction? Make a game of it. That’s the idea behind History Hero, a new app for portable Apple devices that asks children to defend history – for video-game-style points — against an alien group known as the Erasers.Using portable devices, players seek to “save” world culture from an alien breed bent on social obliteration by answering questions or snapping pictures of artifacts.The app combines newfangled gaming rewards with old-fashioned scavenger hunts in institutions like London’s British Museum to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art....

  • Originally published 08/05/2013

    Hugh Ryan: How to Whitewash a Plague

    Hugh Ryan is a freelance writer and the founding director of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History.THE New-York Historical Society’s current exhibition “AIDS in New York: The First Five Years” accomplishes a neat trick: it takes a black mark in New York City’s history — its homophobic, apathetic response to the early days of AIDS in the early 1980s — and transforms it into a moment of civic pride, when New Yorkers of all stripes came together to fight the disease. It’s a lovely story, if only it were true.To judge from the opening animation — a short video titled “What is AIDS?” — this show is aimed at AIDS neophytes, and as an informational vehicle it succeeds. Many of the images and ephemera are powerful testaments. But such details sit against an apologist backdrop that sees the city through rose-tinted glasses.

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Artifacts from Virginia-area museums in running for top 10 ‘endangered’ designation

    RICHMOND, Va. — At the William King Museum in the heart of Appalachia, a panel of 16 small paintings depicting water mills along the region’s landscape is deteriorating, and along with it, important chronicles of southwest Virginia’s rural culture.The series of canvases taped to flimsy wood paneling is flaking and curators at the Abingdon museum are hoping to conserve it through a program has helped some of those previously involved apply for grants and help with fundraising efforts....

  • Originally published 07/23/2013

    NYT hightlights N-Y Historical Society's "Civil War in 50 Objects"

    Tracing history through objects is popular these days. Neil McGregor, the director of the British Museum, did it in 700 best-selling pages, and for the last couple of months, the New-York Historical Society has had an exhibition called “The Civil War in 50 Objects.”Finding the 50 objects involves something of a scavenger hunt — they are on display in different places at the society, at 170 Central Park West, at West 77th Street. All 50 came from the society’s collection of about 1 million Civil War-era items, “a definitive record of slavery, secession, rebellion and reunion from the time these movements first roiled the city and the nation,” according to the Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer. He made the final decisions on which 50 objects were chosen, and which were not, after members of the museum’s staff had winnowed the possibilities to 75....

  • Originally published 07/23/2013

    Where Police See Looted Antiquities, a Mayor Sees a Museum

    ARANDA DE MONCAYO, Spain — The roads leading to this tiny, hilltop village of 200 inhabitants are so narrow and untraveled that no one has ever bothered to paint a white line down the middle.But lately there has been a bit of international intrigue here. A man, who largely kept to himself but was sometimes seen out at night wandering around with a metal detector, has been arrested.Investigators searched his homes, here and elsewhere, and found more than 4,000 looted antiquities. Most of them, they say, had been dug up from the hill next door, which on close inspection has an unusual array of crumbling stone structures. Two thousand years ago, it seems, a bustling metropolis, called Aratikos, sat atop that hill, only to be destroyed by invading Romans.“You and me, we see stones if we look over there,” said Rosario Cabrera, the mayor of Aranda de Moncayo, as she stood on the village ramparts, nodding in the direction of the Aratikos hill. “But an expert sees a doorway.”...

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    N.C. Museum of History Wins 2013 AASLH Award of Merit

    NASHVILLE, TN July 8, 2013 — The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh is the recipient of an Award of Merit from the AASLH Leadership in History Awards for the permanent exhibit History in Every Direction: Tar Heel Junior Historian Association Discovery Gallery. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.The interactive exhibit History in Every Direction features hands-on activities related to exploring history through five kinds of primary sources: artifacts, documents, photographs, oral history, and buildings and sites. The exhibit also showcases award-winning projects by members of the Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, which is based at the N.C. Museum of History. THJHA’s many annual contests encourage students in grades four to 12 to discover and share the historical significance of people, places and events in their own communities. There are more than 5,000 Tar Heel junior historians in 47 counties across North Carolina....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Virginia Museum of Fine Arts plans to rehab pre-Civil War house, turn it into visitor center

    RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is planning to turn a pre-Civil War house on its Richmond property into a regional visitor center.Officials plan to complete the work to rehabilitate the historic three-story, 9,000-square-foot Robinson House by the summer of 2015. The building currently serves as a storage facility.Once complete, the circa-1850 building will include a visitor center on the first floor as well as a gallery interpreting the site’s history going back to the days of American Indians....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Newseum draws visitors but loses money

    WASHINGTON — In five years since moving to its new home overlooking the U.S. Capitol, the Newseum has become a major attraction with 4 million people visiting its exhibits about journalism and the First Amendment. Yet it’s been struggling mightily to cover its costs.Public financial documents reviewed by The Associated Press show revenue fell short of expenses by millions of dollars in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Its parent organization, the Freedom Forum, has used its endowment to provide the bulk of the Newseum’s operating revenue since its creation, and the endowment’s principal value has steadily declined from $600 million to about $373 million at the end of 2011.Nonprofit management consultants say it’s worrisome for a museum to be relying so heavily on a shrinking endowment, but the Newseum’s top executive says it’s not in financial trouble....

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Lego Acropolis offers insight into ancient world

    Look deep into the enormous Lego Acropolis going into the Nicholson Museum tomorrow and you'll see a tiny amphitheatre in which a Lego Oedipus is stabbing his eyes out with a sword. Lego blood spills all over the stage. An audience of Lego mini figures looks on, aghast.''It's a performance of Oedipus Rex,'' explains Michael Turner, the museum's senior curator. ''It's the perfect show for the Theatre of Dionysus and the audience looks like it's having a wild time.''Built by Ryan McNaught, the only Lego-certified professional in the southern hemisphere, the Lego Acropolis contains more than 120,000 bricks and took about 300 hours to build. The buildings, including The Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the smaller Erechtheion temple and the Propylaia, the monumental gateway, are made from gleaming white bricks....

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    New Gettysburg museum explores role of faith in Civil War

    When Confederate soldiers bore down on Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863, a quiet seminary building atop a ridge was transformed — first into a Union lookout, then a field hospital for 600 wounded soldiers.Now the structure that stood at the center of the Civil War’s bloodiest and most pivotal battle is being transformed once again.On July 1, marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Schmucker Hall, located on the campus of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, will reopen as a museum reflecting on the epic battle, the costly war and the complex role of faith.Seminary Ridge Museum will take visitors into the minds of those who fought and explore their conflicting ideas of freedom....

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Gettysburg residents seek black history museum

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gettysburg’s small African-American community proudly tells stories of ancestors who fought in the Civil War, of a young woman who shook President Abraham Lincoln’s hand and of the men who buried thousands of bodies after the battle.But they also speak of a struggle to preserve that history and of discrimination that continued long after the war ended — even where Lincoln himself reminded Americans of our defining ideal: that all men are created equal.‘‘Our story here in this town, and in this state, and in this country has not been told,’’ said Mary Alice Nutter, 68, who has been working to fulfill her mother’s dying wish for an African-American history museum in the town where Union soldiers turned the tide of the Civil War, helping to end slavery in the United States....

  • Originally published 06/23/2013

    Should African-American history have its own museum?

    This week, the US Supreme Court is expected to make a decision about the legality of affirmative action programmes that allow universities to consider race as a factor in admissions.Detractors argue that affirmative action is unnecessary in modern America and contributes to discrimination. Proponents say the programmes remain a vital way to counter centuries of racism and inequality in America.Just blocks away from the Supreme Court in Washington DC, a similar debate is going on about a shawl, some shards of glass, and other historic artefacts.They're items designated for the National Museum of African American History and Culture....But does giving each group its own museum - separate from the main Museum of American History - further segregate those who should be part of the American "melting pot" experience? Does it give special treatment to marginalised groups?Virginia Congressman Jim Moran objected to the museum on those grounds.

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Latvia’s medieval Riga Castle, a museum and presidential residence, damaged by fire

    RIGA, Latvia — A major fire has caused extensive damage to Riga Castle, the medieval fortress that houses the National History Museum of Latvia.Viktorija Sembele, a spokeswoman for the State Fire and Rescue Service, said Friday that the overnight fire damaged the roof and the second and third floors of the castle.She says some significant items in the museum suffered water damage but none was destroyed....

  • Originally published 06/20/2013

    British Museum launches gay history guide

    The British Museum has launched a guide focusing on elements of homosexuality to be found in its collection.A Little Gay History draws on objects ranging from ancient Egyptian papyri and the erotic scenes on the Roman Warren Cup to images by David Hockney.Written by curator Richard Parkinson, it explores artistic portrayals of what it means to be gay and the difficulties in finding records of same-sex desire.The guide is accompanied by an audio trail featuring Simon Russell Beale....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Cambodia welcomes statues' return from U.S. museum

    PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Two 10th century Cambodian stone statues displayed for nearly two decades at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art were returned to their homeland Tuesday in a high-profile case of allegedly looted artifacts.The voluntary return of the pair of "Kneeling Attendants" statues by one of America's foremost cultural institutions is seen as setting a precedent for the restoration of artworks to their places of origin, from which they were often removed in hazy circumstances.It comes as the Cambodian government is asking other museums to return similar objects. At the government's request, U.S. authorities have begun legal action against Sotheby's auction house to try to force the handover of a contested piece....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Prussian palace in Berlin rises from the ashes

    What would Kaiser Bill say? Nearly a century after marching into a world war that ended in defeat and Wilhelm II’s abdication, Germany has begun rebuilding the Prussian palace in Berlin vacated in 1918 and demolished in 1950.German president Joachim Gauck yesterday laid the foundation stone for the palace 2.0, dubbed the Humboldt Forum and planned as a museum for non-European art. Berlin’s original palace expanded over the centuries, reflecting the rise of the ruling Hohenzollern family and Prussia. Like Prussia, however, the ruined palace vanished after the war – dynamited by East Berlin as an unwelcome symbol of German imperialism. They used the site as a parade ground and later for its own parliament complex, the Palace of the Republic.Following German unification a decade of debate over the site ended with a 2002 Bundestag vote to demolish the East German structure and rebuild the Prussian palace....

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Paris museum commemorates Palestinian suicide bombers

    A government-subsidized museum in Paris has opened a photography exhibition of Palestinian suicide bombers, remembering them as freedom fighters, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Friday.The exhibition, “Death” by Ahlam Shibli, opened on May 28 at the Jeu de Paume museum of contemporary art.The museum’s website describes the people pictured as “those who lost their lives fighting against the occupation,” and the exhibition as being about “the efforts of Palestinian society to preserve their presence,” the JTA reported....

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Smithsonian 3D-scanning collection for future

    The Smithsonian has been experimenting with 3D scanning for some time now, using tools like laser arm scanners to map models of whale fossils and other ancient artifacts. Now the museum is utilizing the technology to preserve its collection for posterity. Its "laser cowboys" Vince Rossi and Adam Metallo are working full-time to record items for future generations, as part of an extensive effort to digitize 14 million prioritized objects (a list that also includes artwork and lab specimen)....

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    Civil rights museum planned in Miss.

    Mississippi is hoping to make history again — this time with the nation's first state-sponsored civil rights museum.This fall, officials will break ground on the civil rights museum and the companion Museum of Mississippi History in hopes of having both ready in time to celebrate the state's bicentennial in 2017.There's one catch — $30 million is needed to finish the inside of the buildings, which share a common area.Under the law, the state has agreed to a 50-50 split between state and private funding for 50,000 square feet of exhibits for the museums. Archives officials estimated the acquisition and creation of the exhibits at $14-$16 million....

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    Founder of CT military museum killed by police

    A Connecticut man who was shot and killed by the local police at the start of the Memorial Day weekend was identified Sunday by state authorities as a 75-year-old Army veteran and founder of a military museum in Danbury.The authorities said the man, John Valluzzo, was armed with a handgun when officers from the Ridgefield Police Department confronted him in the front yard of his property on Friday just after 5:15 p.m. The officers had responded to a call of a domestic dispute at that address, 423 Ridgebury Road in Ridgefield, along a verdant stretch of sizable homes.

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Muppets creator Henson's items head to NYC museum

    NEW YORK — The Muppets may have taken Manhattan, but they're getting a spiffy new home in Queens.Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Bert and Ernie of "Sesame Street" fame, the stars of "Fraggle Rock" and other puppets, costumes and items from throughout Muppets creator Jim Henson's career have been donated to the Museum of the Moving Image, which is building a new gallery to house them, the institution announced Tuesday.Encompassing almost 400 items ranging from original puppets to behind-the-scenes footage, the gift is a boon for the 25-year-old museum, which saw attendance skyrocket in 2011 and 2012 during a temporary exhibit of Henson's work. And it fulfills a cherished goal for Henson's widow and collaborator, Jane Henson, who died last month at 78....

  • Originally published 05/12/2013

    American Civil War Wax Museum up for sale

    After 51 years educating and entertaining Gettysburg visitors, the American Civil War Wax Museum is up for sale."The owners are looking to retire," said Tammy Myers, general manager of the museum. It has always been a family business and the owners' children are not interested in operating it, she added, so they are ready to sell.The 12,450-square-foot property located at 297 Steinwehr Av. is currently on the market for $1,695,000, acording to a listing by Prudential Bob Yost-Sites Homesale. As to whether or not the museum will remain open once it is sold, that will depend on the buyers, Myers said....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Hindenburg ticket goes on view

    “None of us know the Lord’s will,” Burtis J. “Bert” Dolan wrote to his wife about his journey on the new airship, the Hindenburg. He had purchased his ticket for the trip on May 1, 1937, two days before setting off from Frankfurt, Germany. It cost him 1,000 RM, equivalent to about $450 during the Great Depression, according to the National Postal Museum. His ticket survived the disaster on May 6, 1937. He did not. He died, along with 35 others.The exhibit, “Fire and Ice,” which opened in spring 2012 for the 75th anniversary, included never-before-seen discoveries like the map of the Hindenburg’s route across the Atlantic, but now, thanks to the Dolan family, it will also include what may be the only surviving passenger ticket from the disaster....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    9/11 museum officials say admission fee needed

    NEW YORK (AP) — Faced with hefty operating costs, the foundation building the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center has decided to charge an admission fee of $20 to $25 when the site opens next year.The exact cost of the mandatory fee has not yet been decided.Entry to the memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools still will be free.The decision to charge for the underground museum housing relics of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has been greeted with dismay by some relatives of 9/11 victims....

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Berlin show offers a glimpse of the history of Uruk, pioneering metropolis in present-day Iraq

    BERLIN — Berlin’s Pergamon Museum is offering visitors a glimpse of perhaps the world’s first real metropolis in a new exhibition that traces the long history of Uruk, in present-day Iraq.Artifacts, including clay masks of demons, figurines of rulers, limestone ducks used as weights, a prism listing Sumerian kings and clay vessels used as water pipes, grace the exhibition “Uruk — 5,000 Years of the Megacity.” They date back as far as the 4th millennium B.C.The show marks a century of excavations at Uruk in which German experts have played a prominent part. But even now, organizers say, less than 5 percent of the sprawling site in the Iraqi desert about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Baghdad has been explored.Michael Eissenhauer, the director of Berlin’s city museums, said Wednesday the exhibition aims to illustrate the importance of Uruk, “the first identifiable major city in the history of mankind” — believed to have had about 40,000 inhabitants in the 4th millennium B.C. and city walls more than 9 kilometers (5 1/2 miles) long....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Holocaust museum hits 20th anniversary

    Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Called “a living memorial to the Holocaust,” and hailed as groundbreaking, its unsparing narrative–populated with artifacts, oral and video histories, and conversations with survivors –has attracted nearly 35 million visitors. Two days of formal anniversary observances kick off next week with a National Tribute Dinner April 28 and a National Tribute to Holocaust Survivors and World War II Veterans April 29 featuring former President Bill Clinton, and Founding Chairman Elie Wiesel....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Saplings from tree outside Anne Frank’s hiding spot take root at schools, museums, parks in U.S.

    INDIANAPOLIS — Saplings from the chestnut tree that stood as a symbol of hope for Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam are being distributed to 11 locations in the United States as part of a project that aims to preserve her legacy and promote tolerance.The tree, one of the Jewish teenager’s only connections to nature while she hid with her family in a Secret Annex in her father’s company building, was diseased and rotted through the trunk when wind and heavy rain toppled it in August 2010. But saplings grown from its seeds will be planted starting in April, when the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will put the first one in the ground....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Team M.V.P. (Most Valuable Preserver): Historians Are Fans’ Link to Past

    BOSTON — On a concourse behind third base at Fenway Park, silent but for the periodic whoosh of the frigid wind, Dan Rea recently approached a display case devoted to the 1930s-era Red Sox. A ledger inside the case was opened to a page where an accountant once entered players’ salaries.One entry was for Smead Jolley, best known for his “difficulty playing the incline” in left field, Rea said, until the field was leveled during a 1934 renovation.Rea is one of two Red Sox employees who are also club historians. They belong to a small cadre of people with a passion for major league baseball lore who added such roles to their team jobs and later figured out what to do....

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    Culinary exhibitions add life to museums' period rooms

    The period rooms in art museums have the mustiest, dustiest of reputations. They are often seen as the cultural equivalent of grandma’s overstuffed couch that smelled like a fleet of cats....The traditional period-room model has been the dollhouse, but without Colonial Dame Barbie. Furniture and objects were arranged just so to set the scene for a particular era and then cordoned off for years. Museumgoers did not stumble over one another to take a peek.But some museums have discovered at least one secret ingredient to make their potentially snooze-inducing rooms more palatable to the public: a chef of sorts. Meet Ivan Day, a British food historian who is helping museums satisfy the public’s growing interest in food in all of its cultural manifestations. And why food? That’s because the hardware of cooking and dining usually make up a big part of museums’ decorative arts collections....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Smithsonian museums host series of programs to mark Black History Month

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian is celebrating Black History Month with a series of programs in February.Throughout the month, the National Museum of American History will present performances by historical characters in “Join the Student Sit-Ins.” Visitors will meet a civil rights activist from 1960 and take part in a training session based on an actual civil rights manual to prepare for a sit-in. The performance is presented Tuesdays through Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.On Monday, the National Museum of American History will mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by hosting a webcast for high school students. Scholars will reflect on the abolition movement of the 19th century....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Israel museum to exhibit reconstructed tomb in first major exhibition on biblical King Herod

    JERUSALEM — Israel’s national museum said Tuesday it will open what it calls the world’s first exhibition devoted to the architectural legacy of biblical King Herod, the Jewish proxy monarch who ruled Jerusalem and the Holy Land under Roman occupation two millennia ago.The display includes the reconstructed tomb and sarcophagus of one of antiquity’s most notable and despised figures, curators say.Modern day politics are intruding into this ancient find. Palestinians object to the showing of artifacts found in the West Bank. The Israeli museum insists it will return the finds once the exhibit closes....

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    National Museum of American History seeks help building collection showing farm innovations

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History working with farmers to build a new collection showing the evolution of modern agriculture.The museum announced Monday that it’s working with the American Farm Bureau Federation to collect items that reflect innovation in farming and ranching over the past 70 years. Curators are seeking stories, photographs and objects for a future exhibition.The first donation was announced by a Tennessee farmer at the farm bureau’s annual meeting in Nashville. A multigenerational dairy will donate a computer cow tag system and photographs to show how the dairy became a modernized operation.The museum will open a web portal in March to collect stories and photographs online....

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