Patrick here, giving our tireless Kathy a little break from the blogosphere. It's only been, oh, almost three years since my last post, so I suppose I'm overdue. My reason for blogging today has to do with some fun gallery activities we've built into our recent exhibitions, as well as their fascinating responses that we've been finding in the galleries daily.
We've all probably been to science centers where you can manipulate sounds and lights to learn about vibrations and optics, or played with old games and toys in historic houses. Not surprisingly for the Rosenbach, we like to play with words. In our recent Friend or Faux exhibition I loved pawing through the motley book created by Jude Robison to demonstrate Dr. Rosenbach’s “perfecting” of his copy of Pilgrim’s Progress. In our current Westward Ho! exhibition visitors have been snatching stacks of our homemade "mad libs," patterned on the language of 19th-century dime novels from our collection. If any Rosenblog readers happen to have tried that activity, we'd love for you to share the "mad" results, by the way!
We built a magnetic poetry board into our current Sendak exhibition Dreadful Things Happen: Sendak and the Brothers Grimm. Think of it as a “make your own Grimm story” activity: The board is stocked with words that crop up all the time in the Grimm tales, such as “stepmother,” “cruel,” “poisoned,” and “magic.” Cheery fridge poetry it is not. But visitors have invented some amazingly creative and superbly dreadful stories out of the chaos of words. Of course, they all begin “Once upon a time.” Some of them are vivid narratives, with suggestions of plot lines that parallel stories like Hansel and Gretel. Here's a recent example:
“Once upon a time a cunning pig stole magic for a queen and the prince saw greedy wicked parents and escaped to the dreadful forest to a castle with a frightening giant musical donkey!”
Other visitors have composed poetry that celebrates the dreadfulness of the Grimm tales, like this one resembling a haiku:
“Snow-white escaped and died
Turned into ghost
Cried to stepmother again.”
Among my favorite responses are those that capture the loopy logic of the Grimms' stories: “Three times the stupid fox and greedy hedgehog ghost tricked the poor giant! Why? Magic.”
It's a lot of fun to see new responses on the board every day--Jacob and Wilhelm would no doubt be proud that their tales have inspired so many new tellers.