This video is one of the forty multimedia stops in a new ”story-caching” application that allows users to visit and learn more about various historic events and landmarks in Georgia as part of sesquicentennial of the Atlanta and Savannah Campaigns of 1864 and the semicentennial of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Once installed on a GPS-enabled smartphone or tablet, the application guides users to a site with a “story-cache”–a streaming multimedia presentation that “projects” the past onto the present location. Atlanta high-rises yield to Civil War trenches; Martin Luther King, Jr. is suddenly standing and speaking just where he once did, giving users the illusion of being transported back in time to become a member of his audience. Content is activated simply by being in the right place and pointing your smart device at a particular sign or statue or object. This project is developed by ARwerks, an augmented reality design and production company (their web site isn’t fully operational, so they remain a bit mysterious).
Visiting Annapolis a few weeks ago, I had a chance to see the nearly completed installation of Freedom Bound: Runaways of the Chesapeake, a year-long exhibit about the resistance to servitude and slavery in the Chesapeake Bay region from the colonial period to the Civil War. Heather Ersts and Ariane Hofstedt of the Historic Annapolis Foundation graciously provided a personal tour of the exhibit, which is installed in several museums and historic sites around the city. It’s an exhibit worth seeing not only for the content, but also the design, and several items jumped out at me:
1. The exhibit looks at the varied experiences of people through nine persons. Seven of these persons were enslaved Africans, but two are white–a convict servant and an indentured servant–which will surprise most visitors. It complicates the usual narrative that only Africans were held in bondage (of course, being owned as a slave is very different from being incarcerated as a convict) and it’s by encountering the unexpected that people are more likely to learn. The typical exhibit about slavery trots out the same 1850 drawing of the slave ship Brooks, a pair of iron shackles, and perhaps a tag from Charleston. Yes, those are all authentic and true, but the constant repeat of these items renders them Continue reading
For today’s break, a beautifully produced yet simple 3:44 video by Adam Worth about the historic African American cemeteries in New Jersey, many of which are abandoned and slowly disappearing into nature. It discusses their historical significance as well as current preservation challenges.
In honor of Historic Preservation month, the videos in May will feature related topics, starting with “The Royal Castle: From Destruction to Reconstruction” by Novina Studio. This 2:28 animation traces the destruction of this historical monument by the Nazis in World War II to its reconstruction in 1974. Simple and dramatic, it provides a quick history of the site.
Modern visitors encounter historic visitors in Annapolis, Maryland, a clever way to connect people to the past. In their visitor center on the waterfront, the Historic Annapolis Foundation installed a wall of life-size images of famous and popular celebrities who have visited Annapolis during the past two hundred years. The main label reads:
Who are these people, and why are they here?
You may recognize a few of them, or perhaps all of them.
Each of these people is famous for one reason or another, and each spent time in Annapolis. Some were here in the recent past, while others many years ago. Some passed through the city on a whirlwind tour, and some called Annapolis home.
But what does George Washington have in common with Sarah Jessica Parker? The Marquis de Lafayette with Mark Twain? Amelia Earhart with Michelle Obama?
Their common bond is that each of them could return to Annapolis today and recognize downtown because of Historic Annapolis. Thanks to historic preservation, Annapolitans Continue reading
Take a break today and be inspired by this video on the Mast Brothers, a small chocolate maker in Brooklyn. It’s a combination of craft, history, and biography in a well produced short film by The Scout. For historic sites that interpret processes past or present, such as food production, building construction, archaeology, or historical research, this might be an engaging approach.
This Friday’s break features Welcome to Fontevraud, a 2:25 video interpreting an arts and cultural center housed in a medieval abbey in western France. How would artists interpret your site?
For today’s Friday break, a video by Petros Vrellis that demonstrates an interactive iPad application of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. Is this a glimpse of a future where visitors can explore collections in new ways?
For your Friday break, Shaping History, Shaping Tomorrow is a video commissioned by Kieo University that explores the contrasts in Tokyo between new and traditional, historic and modern, young and old. How would these topics be presented at your site or community?
The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History recently launched Created Equal, a new program to bring four nationally-acclaimed films on civil rights to historic sites, museums, and libraries. They can easily fill a summer series of programs when accompanied by an historian and spark a conversation about your community’s experience with civil rights.
The films include:
- The Abolitionists. A small group of moral reformers in the 1830s launched one of the most ambitious social movements imaginable: the immediate emancipation of millions of African Americans who were enslaved.
- Slavery by Another Name. Even as slavery ended in the south after the Civil War, new forms of forced labor kept thousands of African Americans in bondage until the onset of World War II. Produced and directed by Sam Pollard.
- Loving Story. The moving account of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia (1967).
- Freedom Riders. The Freedom Rides of 1961 were a pivotal moment in the long Civil Rights struggle that redefined America. This documentary film offers an inside look at the brave band of activists who challenged segregation in the Deep South.
Up to 500 communities across the nation will receive these four inspiring NEH-funded films, accompanied by programming resources to guide public conversations. Each participating site will receive an award of up to $1,200 to support public programming exploring the themes of the Created Equal project. Applications are due May 1, 2013 and open to museums and historical societies; humanities councils; public, academic, and community college libraries; and nonprofit community organizations.