Sunday, February 28, 2010

All Local Crawfordsville Museums Debut New Exhibits

Crawfordsville’s local cultural attractions are gearing up for another exciting visitation season, preparing new exhibits, displays and presentations in anticipation of their public openings next week.

The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County will kick off its 2010 season on Tuesday, March 2 with its Annual Meeting of the Membership of the Friends of the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County from 5:00-8:00 p.m., where members will get a first look at the Museum’s new exhibits and meet the 2010 Invention Convention contest winners. Beginning March 3, 2010, the Carnegie Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. The Carnegie’s upcoming exhibits include: The Story of Sugar Creek, in conjunction with the Friends of Sugar Creek; Democracy in Action, a collaborative project with the Montgomery County League of Women Voters; Invention Convention and High School Prom. In June and July the Carnegie will host Inside Peanuts: the Life and Art of Charles M. Schulz.

The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, which has been open to visitors since February 3, will debut their new exhibit, Sanctuary: Preserving the Legacy of Lew Wallace during a members-only sneak preview party on March 3 and a public grand opening on Saturday, March 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Sanctuary exhibit features images and artifacts relating to the unique Study building, Wallace’s personal sanctuary, ideally suited to his interests in science, art, and reminiscing. The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is open for regular tours on Wednesdays through Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays 1:00-5:00 p.m.

The Rotary Jail Museum will present its new exhibit featuring the artwork of the Sugar Creek Quilters Guild Study Groups, beginning with a reception on March 14 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The exhibit will be on display at the Jail through May 31. Visitors will be able to view beautiful finished quilts such as a Quilt of Hope, which will be given to a cancer patient after the exhibit, and a Quilt of Valor, which will be presented to a local soldier.

In addition to finished quilts, the exhibit will feature individual quilt blocks and some works in progress from quilters who are learning new techniques. Quilts in-the-making serve to illustrate another dimension of quilt creation, according to Montgomery County Cultural Foundation Executive Director Tamara Hemmerlein. “Our unfinished quilts show all that goes into the construction of a quilt, and the incredible amount of work and creativity that is invested into each piece.”

The solemn traditions in a Victorian-era house of mourning will be interpreted this year at Lane Place with their new exhibit, Coffins, Crape and Cakes: Nineteenth-Century Mourning at the Lane Place. The mirrors of the stately antebellum mansion will be draped in black, the doorbell will be muffled, and an elegant casket will stand in the formal parlor to illustrate the regular customs adopted by bereaved families in the Victorian period. The exhibit will run through November 2010; The Lane Place is open for tours on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

The Ropkey Armor Museum, located north of State Road 32 on CR 150 North in Crawfordsville, will feature it's newly restored Viet Nam era Tank, the M 41 Walker Bulldog, this spring. This summer the museum will offer its initial presentation of the "Faces of Freedom" exhibit, inspired by the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. They will also be introducing to their collection a reproduction of the mural by well-known artist Don Peters commemorating the Allied liberation of Rome during WWII. On September 17-19, the museum will be hosting the regional convention and open house of Military Vehicle Preservation Association, and on November 11, Veterans Day, the Ropkey Museum will hold its first-annual Veterans Bean Soup Supper in support of the local VFW and American Legion.

For more information on these museums and others in the area, contact the Montgomery County Visitors and Convention Bureau at 765-362-5200 or visit them online at

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Copyright Infringement and Motion Pictures: 1907 Ben-Hur

Writers, producers, and attorneys all over Hollywood and New York should wake up every day thanking Lew Wallace. As many of you know, after Lew Wallace wrote Ben-Hur, he had it published by Harper and Brothers. Late in his life Lew Wallace and Harper and Brothers reached agreement with Abraham Erlanger to produce a spectacular stage version of the book. It must have been amazing to see two teams of horses running at full speed on a turntable on the Broadway stage. This production was wildly successful and ran for 20 some years.

In 1907, two years after Wallace’s death, Kalem Picture Company, a movie production company created their version of the book. At just 15 minutes long, this movie only highlighted brief scenes from the book. The most exciting scene was, again, the chariot race. Kalem filmed the race on the Sheepshead Bay (New York) Racetrack with firemen from the Brooklyn Fire Department racing their fire horses around the track in front of scenery left over from a summer exhibition.

Kalem, following common movie production practices of the day, did not acquire any rights to the story. After just one showing of the movie, Lew Wallace’s heir, Harper and Brothers, and Erlanger Theaters took legal action. They shut the movie down and pursued litigation that eventually landed in the Supreme Court. While Kalem argued that the movie provided a form of increased marketing, Wallace’s heirs and business partners argued that it was not simply about the money (it never is), it was that the motion-picture version was so poorly done that it cheapened and degraded the original. In a decision written by Oliver Wendell Holmes the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wallace’s heirs and business partners expressing the opinion that the movie was an infringement of the Ben-Hur copyright and by extension, of the author’s intellectual property rights. This ruling has been used for over 100 years to protect the intellectual and creative property rights of artists in all mediums from Mickey Mouse watches right down to uploading music on iPods.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Think Spring at "Victorian Landscapes" Workshop

“Victorian Landscapes,” the third workshop of the 2010 Winter Preservation Workshop Series, will take place on Tuesday, March 2 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, 200 Wallace Avenue in Crawfordsville.
Meg Storrow, Principal Landscape Architect at Storrow Kinsella Associates, will explore historic landscapes, designs for modern properties, and plants, fencings, and other decorative elements that complement an historic house.

Plan to attend this fascinating seminar, held at the Carriage House Interpretive Center at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. Cost for this workshop will be $15 for members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society or Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, and $25 for non-members. Registration will be open until the workshop; contact the Museum at 765-362-5769 or for information.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One Case Down!

The 2010 exhibit, Sanctuary: Preserving the Legacy of Lew Wallace, is taking shape! Amanda McGuire and Deb are working diligently with white gloves and power tools to get everything in place. The first case done centers on Wallace's legacy through his best-selling novel Ben-Hur, including some rarely-seen ephemera, and the finished exhibit will open to the public Saturday, March 6.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sneak Preview

The 2010 exhibit opens in just a few weeks and we are furiously working on displays, exhibits and interactive activities.

Lew Wallace's workbench, replicated by a local woodworker, will be the setting of the 'hands on' display. One of the activities planned is a block puzzle representing the Study. Handcrafted by volunteer Dave Alber, a magical woodworker himself, the puzzle consists of wood blocks in various shapes and sizes. Children and adults can 'build' the Study

Stained glass windows, porthole windows, faces from the Study's frieze are just some of the embellishments that can be added to the Study.

More 'hands on' activities are planned for the exhibit as well as programs throughout the year!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Classes for 2010 Winter Preservation Workshop Series

The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, continuing the tradition of advocating for historic materials that helped them win the 2008 National Medal for Museum Service, is reinstating its popular Winter Preservation Workshop Series after a one-year break. The first of four workshops, focusing on safeguarding family photos and personal papers, will take place on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 with “Pictures and Papers” from 7:00-9:00 p.m., led by Beth Swift from the Ramsay Archives at Wabash College.

The Winter Preservation Workshop Series, co-hosted by Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana and the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, offers a wealth of easily-applicable information for people interested in preserving historic buildings as well as personal effects. The four workshops, which will be held on Tuesday evenings in the Carriage House Interpretive Center at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, will provide instruction on a variety of topics, from roofing matters to Victorian landscapes.

“We’re branching out from buildings this year to cover something that everyone has thought about: how to keep personal papers and photographs in the best condition,” said Amanda Wesselmann, Associate Director of the Museum. “Beth Swift has a lot of good information about easy, inexpensive things that people can do right now keep their documents in good shape.”

“Pictures and Papers” will introduce participants to products and practices used to keep family heirloom documents in the best possible condition for future generations. Beth Swift, the facilitator of this workshop, is the Archivist at the Ramsay Archives at Wabash College and author of the “Dear Old Wabash” history blog. Swift has also been instrumental in guiding the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in their efforts to properly pack and preserve General Wallace’s personal artifacts as crucial repair work is done to the roof of his iconic Study.

The second workshop of the series, “Historic Roofing”, will provide an overview of historic roofing materials and acceptable replacements, as well as discussing maintenance strategies that can help prevent unneeded repairs. Representatives from Henry C. Smither Roofing Company in Indianapolis will lead the presentation, on Tuesday, February 16, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

“Victorian Landscapes” will be presented by Meg Storrow, Principal Landscape Architect at Storrow Kinsella Associates, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2. This workshop will cover historic landscapes, designs for modern properties, and plants, fencings, and other decorative elements that complement an historic house.

Can preserving a historic building be good for the environment as well? The final workshop of the series, “Green Design in Preservation”, will present ways to incorporate green concepts like solar and geothermal power, water collection systems, and energy-saving products for historic buildings. The workshop, led by Jim Kienle of Moody Nolan’s Historic Preservation Studio, will take place on Tuesday, March 16 from 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Homeowners, business owners and those interested in historic preservation and landscape architecture are invited to attend these important workshops at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. Members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society or Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana can attend for $15 a session or $55 for the series. Non-members can attend for $25 a workshop or $90 for the entire series. Inquiries about memberships to the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society can be made at 765-362-5769.
To register for the Winter Preservation Workshop Series or for individual workshops, contact the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum at 765-362-5769 or email Information/registration brochures are available at the Museum or can be mailed upon request. Registration is limited to 15 participants per session.