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Posts Tagged ‘collection’

I learned from an article in the NY Times last month that Thomas Edison’s first voice recordings were for talking dolls. And until recently, no contemporary person dared listen to them.

Ron Cowen writes, “Though Robin and Joan Rolfs owned two rare talking dolls manufactured by Thomas Edison’s phonograph company in 1890, they did not dare play the wax cylinder records tucked inside each one.

“The Rolfses, longtime collectors of Edison phonographs, knew that if they turned the cranks on the dolls’ backs, the steel phonograph needle might damage or destroy the grooves of the hollow, ring-shaped cylinder. …

“Sound historians say the cylinders were the first entertainment records ever made, and the young girls hired to recite the rhymes were the world’s first recording artists.

“Year after year, the Rolfses asked experts if there might be a safe way to play the recordings. Then a government laboratory developed a method to play fragile records without touching them.

“The technique relies on a microscope to create images of the grooves in exquisite detail. A computer approximates — with great accuracy — the sounds that would have been created by a needle moving through those grooves.”

Read more here.

Artifacts: Collection of Robin and Joan Rolfs
A government laboratory found a way to listen to recordings on fragile wax cylinders inside dolls made by Thomas Edison in 1890. 

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Suzanne has always admired Madeleine Albright, an interesting woman before, during, and after her stint as U.S. Secretary of State.

One thing that appeals to me about Albright is her sense of humor, a playfulness seen in the pins she collected for special occasions and to express both diplomatic — and not so diplomatic — thoughts.

The brooches on view through July 20 at her alma mater’s Davis Museum include an eagle pin that she wore to her swearing in, the serpent pin that was a response to a hostile Saddam Hussein observation, and a bee pin with a stinger to warn Yasser Arafat she was losing patience.

Jill Radsken recently toured the collection with Albright and recorded her recollections about her pins, including a pin that went over like a lead balloon.

“She [recalled] her foreign policy pin faux pas when she wore a three-monkey ‘Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil’ set to a summer summit with Vladimir Putin. When the Russian leader inquired about the monkeys, Albright forcefully told him: ‘I think your policy in Chechnya is evil.’

“ ‘That was a time when I thought I’d made a mistake with my pin,’ she said.”

Read more here.

Photo: John Bigelow Taylor
Saddam Hussein published a poem calling Madeleine Albright, then ambassador to the United Nations, an “unparalleled serpent.” She decided to have fun with comment and got herself a serpent pin for her next meeting with Hussein’s officials.

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Barnes-3

 

 

 

Barnes-waterfall

Today I need the Indian goddess with the many arms because I want to say about the Barnes Collection in its new home, “On the one hand, on the other hand, on the third hand …”

After I saw the documentary The Art of the Steal, about how the fabulous art collection that was willed to a historically black college to keep it from art-world experts ended up in the hands of art world experts, I thought a trustee at Lincoln University had sold his patrimony for a mess of pottage. Now I think that receiving untold wealth is a curse and the donor better have a good plan and lots of resources to support the unfortunate recipient. (More about the movie.)

That’s two hands.

On Thursday, having visited the Albert C. Barnes collection in its new Philadelphia Museum of Art building, I needed a few more hands.

On the third hand, the building is gorgeous in its simplicity and displays the art (69 Cezannes, anyone? How about 60 Matisses? 44 Picassos? 178 Renoirs? Do you love Seurat? Van Gogh? Pennsylvania Dutch furniture?) in the quirky layout of the old Merion, Pa., setting and without labels as Barnes did. On the fourth hand, lack of labels is annoying. On the fifth hand, the art experts provide an ipod with lectures on selected works and a booklet to identify all the items exhibited. On the sixth hand, faithful as the layout is, Dr. Barnes, who made his money in pharmaceuticals and wanted ordinary working families to enjoy and study art without the filter of the art establishment — would have had a heart attack about the entry fee and the standard gift shop and coffee shop and other luxurious museum appointments.

The museum is definitely worth seeing, for the building, the art, and the way the roaring controversy was all handled. But it’s the little things I will cherish like finding black and white illustrations that reminded me of Dickens illustrations and turned out to be by the school friend Barnes asked to help form his taste and get him started on collecting (William Glackens).

Giorgio de Chirico, Portrait of Albert C. Barnes, 1926

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David Guttenfelder seems to get into North Korea and take pictures there more than anyone else, but what are you allowed to take pictures of in North Korea?

When Guttenfelder isn’t attending any official event, he improvises. He may have invented an art form in North Korea — artifact photography. He snaps bunches of plastic flowers in a hotel room, dinner menus, concert programs and labels them as “artifacts,” numbered.

No wonder he is involved with a new artifact museum, mmuseumm, which features the kooky things people collect.

Consider Toothpaste Tubes from Around the World, collected by Tucker Viemeister.  Says Viemeister, “Although I come from a ‘Crest family,’ I got my first tube of foreign toothpaste in Finland in 1985. We were shopping for normal stuff (Marimekko and toiletries). I saw a tube of toothpaste that’s [got a] name as long as the tube! They have long words in Finland.

“As I traveled around, I’d sample the toothpaste around the world. It was fun to buy and fit easily in my bag. Meanwhile it was an easy gift!

“I noticed that toothpaste is a universal media for indigenous people – a veritable blank canvas — both graphics on the generic tube and the flavors of the paste. French brands are more gourmet, Asian is more fruity, while American is very sharp (it this stereotyping?).” More here.

The museum is in Cortlandt Alley between Franklin St. and White St. in Manhattan.

(I wonder if my collection of wooden thread spools is extensive enough for a museum. I am afraid I lost the varied European toilet papers I collected on a trip at age 15.)

 

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In case anyone thought that this blog wasn’t eclectic enough, I’m linking today to a story about garbage collection in Taiwan.

“For several years, Taiwan’s garbage trucks have played classical music as they travel through crowded residential areas, drawing forth residents with their garbage. Conceived by Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration as a way to decrease pests and odors in outdoor public trash disposal areas, the trucks musically notify residents that they are to bring their garbage directly to the trucks, ensuring that the garbage never sits on the curb attracting vermin and releasing odors.”

I wonder how two-career families who aren’t home to respond to the music deal with this. Read more on Taiwan’s approach at New York’s classical music station, WQXR.

Meanwhile, at Los Alamos, Americans show they can innovate in garbage collection, too. I think my grandson will like this truck.

 

 


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