Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Let us now praise fellow institutions, and their father that begat them"

If you'll forgive your loyal blogger, I'd like to plug for a sister institution for a few paragraphs. Earlier this year, I purchased The Charleston Museum's for the first time in years, and I've become reacquainted with just how much I love the place. And one of my favourite parts is that, while there are great travelling exhibits, and the Kidstory children's exhibit is pretty new, the vast majority of things haven't changed one bit since I was a wee lad.

[A caveat: your loyal blogger is too young to remember the "Old Museum". I am, however, plenty old enough to have heard how much better the Cannon Street facility was, from dozens and dozens and dozens of people. No worries - this being Charleston, I hold dogmatically to the principle anything that is no longer with us was infinitely superior to whatever we currently have, amen.]

Foremost amongst things I love that haven't changed since I was a wee lad: the hundreds of taxidermied creatures that make up the Natural History collection. Therein are owls and eagles and sandpipers, shot and stuffed back in the colonial era by pioneering naturalists like Audubon and Catesby and Michaux. To walk through the collection is to see a snapshot of natural history at an extremely important time, it's 18th and 19th century transformation from an amateur hobby to a professional science. It really couldn't be more interesting.

And - back to endorsing the terrific institution that gives me a paycheck - the Museum's Natural History collection dovetails beautifully with lots of written material in the collection of the Library Society, like Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, or personal gifts from Andre Michaux to the society, like our Persian Manuscript. All together, they paint a great picture of colonial Charleston on the edge of Western civilization, an outpost for science in the Age of Enlightenment. Very, very cool.

Catesby, from our collection.
This ivory billed woodpecker is extinct,. 
but if you wanna see him, the Museum's got a stuffed one...

[And with that rewritten ending replacing the maudlin and mopey "we-killed-the-Carolina-Parakeet" ending I originally typed... I killed the good transition to the things I'm about to stump for... oh well, here goes anyway.]

Two great Library series are nearing extinction (for a few months, at least), and you should be here to see them off!

First, UNEDITED's final concert of the season, Unchambered Melody, A Warmup for Spoleto, is tomorrow night at 7PM. Tickets are $15, and are still available (though going quick). Call us at 723-9912 if you're interested in an awesome night of chamber music... with a twist!

Secondly, WIDE ANGLE LUNCHES will have its final talk of its second series this Friday at 12:15PM. We will welcome Alexandra Mack, editor of and former managing editor of Interview, to discuss her experiences in the world of high fashion. (Also, Black Bean, Co. will be providing lunches, so you can stuff your face while discussing fashion modeling... so it goes.) Get tickets at or by calling 1 888 71 TICKETS. And while this is the end, it's not forever - both series will be back and bigger than ever this Fall!

If the title's too obscure, you're not reading enough James Agee. Or possibly Ben Sira...

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