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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rosenbach Recap

As 2011 draws to a close, here's a look back at some of my personal picks for highlights of the past Rosen-year:

The conservation and unveiling of the only surviving Sendak mural:

The Chertoff mural, post-conservation. © 1961 by Maurice Sendak, all rights reserved. Given by Nina and Larry Chertoff in loving memory of Roslyn and Lionel Chertoff and Eugene Glynn.

Our commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War:

Participation in the first Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts with Exile Among Expats: James Joyce in Paris and the composition Raving Beauty about Mercedes de Acosta.

Exile Among Expats

A beautiful Bloomsday in the sun.

And a wonderful Dracula DIY held during a freak October snowstorm

My list could go on and on--watching children in our school partner project performing 18th-century set dances, the explosion of interest in reading groups, working with composer Dave Burrell on his Civil War compositions....

What was your favorite Rosenbach memory of 2011?

Friday, December 16, 2011

My First Annual Fund

Dana Byrd here, Development Assistant at the Rosenbach. Most of you have probably spoken to me about membership or registering for a program, event, or reading group. As a relatively new Rosenbacher, I was pretty overwhelmed by my first annual fund campaign and I’ve decided to steal Kathy’s soapbox for a week to tell you about it.

I’m sure that many of you have received a letter from some charitable organization at the end of the year requesting donations to their annual fund or campaign. But have you ever thought about why you received it, or how that letter came to be in your mailbox?

Before I worked at the Rosenbach, I knew that “annual fund” meant an annual request for support (money!) to be used to run a museum, from the electric bill, to upgrading technology, to paying the staff.

But what does the word “campaign” mean? Previously, I had only associated this word with elections. However, working on this year’s annual fund campaign at the Rosenbach has given me a new perspective and the word has taken on a new meaning: it represents a multi-faceted approach to fundraising that gives our supporters as many opportunities to learn about us and as many avenues to give as possible. We brainstormed dozens of ideas to get staff members, volunteer docents, and even our actual supporters themselves involved. The bottom line? That letter that you (hopefully!) held in your hand was not sent to you without some forethought.

The theme of our Annual Fund campaign is “what will your gift inspire?” This year we wanted to get our supporters involved in more meaningful, mission-inspired ways... We wanted to know what inspired you at the Rosenbach and we wanted to tell you what your gifts have inspired already. So, here’s what we did:
  1. We filmed our first-ever fundraising video, featuring Director Derick Dreher.
  2. We set up an interactive wall in our lobby where visitors leave comments about their visit. The Annual fund supports the Rosenbach keeping our doors open, so all the things they write are directly a result of your gift!
  3. We created a photo essay, “100 Days at the Rosenbach,” where we post one photo each day for 100 days, starting with our Member Appreciation Night on October 11, 2011. We are currently on day number 67. All of this “behind-the-scenes” action that happens every day is sustained by this and previous year’s annual fund campaigns. Click here to explore!
  4. We created a lobby sign to recognize supporters who make gifts to the Annual Fund.
  5. We sent a letter to our previous supporters and visitors asking for their help in supporting this year’s annual fund, as well as provided four different ways to make a gift (by mail, by phone, online, or in person).
So far, we are proud to say that we have raised over 75% of our fundraising goal. We are very grateful to those that have already generously donated to this year’s annual fund.

I know I will be donating this year. After all, ‘tis the season for giving. We hope that you’ll make a gift to help us reach the finish line – who knows what your gift will inspire next? And I wouldn't work in Development if I didn't include:

Click here
to make your gift now!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Families Affected By Wartime: Part IV

This is the fourth in a series of posts that will explore the Rosenbach’s newest initiative, Families Affected by Wartime. This ground-breaking initiative will serve the military community, a population largely ignored by museums. The Rosenbach houses an exceptional collection of wartime letters and documents which speak to the personal experience of war and the challenges faced by service men and women and their families. The project aims to connect families from the past with those from the present, demonstrating the relevance of historical documents to our contemporary wartime experience.

Over the next few months, project advisers, as well as Rosenbach staff and trustees, will be sharing their experiences with the
Families Affected by Wartime project here on the Rosenblog.

Finding Their Own Peace: Katie Samson, Families Affected by Wartime Project Coordinator

Currently, there are 2 million veterans eligible for the benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. That number will continue to increase; 45,000 soldiers are returning from Iraq this year alone. On the local level, Temple University has 750 veterans enrolled this year compared to 200 student veterans last year. Beginning this spring, as part of the Families Affected by War initiative, the Rosenbach will be launching a program and companion exhibition that will aim to serve the growing number of student veterans in our area and tell their story.

Initially, I thought it might be challenging to attract student veterans to a museum-based program. Many veterans hold down full-time jobs, they have long commutes to campus, they are parents, and generally speaking, lead very full lives. But the minute I connected with a couple of local student veterans and told them about the Rosenbach, they leaned into the conversation. “Where and when can I sign up for the workshop?” said one Iraq veteran I met with at a Veterans Lounge. The idea of a “safe space” in the Museum- to meet regularly, engage with the collection in a personal way was interesting to them. They were intrigued with the idea of an exhibition which would serve to tell their story and the stories of veterans from the past.

I also connected with Lawrence Davidson, the Student Veteran Coordinator at West Chester University. Mr. Davidson is an OIF veteran with an undergraduate degree in history, who is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Counseling. Lawrence was particularly drawn to the concept of veterans engaging with the Rosenbach’s collection of historic wartime documents and letters, exploring the American veteran experience and using this body of knowledge to create something for veterans to share with each other and the public. He emailed me this response: “I started my undergrad as a History Education major. As I began to read about war on a collegiate level, I felt a connection to the women and men from previous conflicts. This connection has created a passion to understand men and women at war and when they come home trying to find their own peace.”

In response to Lawrence’s comments about soldiers finding peace, I began thinking of items in the collection which express similar sentiments. I found myself revisiting a post war letter written by Robert E. Lee letter to P.G.T Beauregard from October 3, 1865. The war was over and Lee was struggling to find a place for himself in society. At the time that the letter was written, he had just been selected as the president of Washington College. He writes to Beauregard about this role and the fact that he hoped to be “of some benefit to the noble Youth of our Country.”

The student veterans we aim to connect with have also chosen an academic path. Much like Lee focused his efforts on the future of the country and its Youth, the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are motivated towards a future of peace both external and internal.

I look forward to the opportunity to bring student veterans into a discussion about this letter and other examples from the collection that speak to the personal experience of war.

Robert E. Lee , autograph letter signed to G.T. Beauregard, Lexington, Va., 3 October 1865. AMs 540/28

3rd Oct 65

My dear Gen’l,

I have rec[eive]’d as your letter of the 1st Ulto: and am very sorry to learn that the papers of yourself and Johnston are lost, or at least beyond your reach. But I hope they may be recovered, mine cannot be, though some may be replaced. Please supply all you can. It may be safer to send them by private hands if practicable or by express to Mr. James Caskil at Richmond or to me at this place. I hope both you and Johnston will write the history of your campaigns. Every one should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. I am glad to see no indication in your letter of an intention to leave the country. I think the South requires the aid of her sons now more than at any period of her history. As you ask my purpose I will state that I have no thought of abandoning her, unless compelled to do so.

After the surrender of the S. Armies in April, the revolution in the opinions and feelings of the people seemed so complete and the return of the S. States into the Union of all the States so inevitable; that it became in my opinion, that it became in my opinion the duty of every citizen, the Contest being virtually ended, to cease opposition, and place himself in a position to serve the Country. I therefore upon the promulgation of the proclamation of Pres. Johnson, which indicated apparently his policy in restoring peace, determined to comply with its requirements; and on the 13th of June, applied to be embraced within its provisions. I have not heard the result of my application, but since then have been elected to the Presidency of Washington College, and have entered upon the duties of the office in the hope of being of some benefit to the noble Youth of our Country.

I need not tell you, that true patriotism requires of men sometimes, to act exactly contrary at one period, to that which it does at another; and that the motive which impels them in the desire to do right, is precisely the same. The circumstances which govern their actions undergo change, and their Conduct must Conform to the new order of things. History is full of illustrations of this. Washington himself is an example, at one time he fought against the French, under Braddock, in the service of the King of Great Britain; at another he fought with the French at Yorktown, under the orders of the Continental Congress of America, against him. He has not been handled by the world with reproach for this, but his course has been applauded.

With sentiments of great esteem,

I am most truly yours,

R. E. Lee

Here is the link to the Washington Post article:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Up, Up, and Away

Fan. France, ca. 1784. 1954.2077

The great aeronautical events of December 1, 1783 are commemorated on this beautiful French fan in our collection. What exactly happened 228 years ago, you ask? The first manned ascent in a hydrogen balloon, carried out by Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert. The balloon was launched from the Tuileries garden in Paris and traveled 36 kilometers in approximately two hours. Here's a close-up of the fan, showing the balloon and the observing crowds.

Fan (detail). France, ca. 1784. 1954.2077

This was only the second manned balloon flight in history, the first having occurred 10 days before in the Montgolfier brothers' hot-air balloon. Joseph Montgolfier was actually present for the launching of the Charles/Robert balloon, as was Benjamin Franklin, who had also attended the Montgolfier flight. Here is an excerpt from Franklin's wonderful letter to the British scientist Joseph Banks on December 1:

The morning was foggy, but about one o'clock the air became tolerably clear, to the great satisfaction of the spectators, who were infinite, notice having been given of the intended experiment several days before in the papers, so that all Paris was out, either about the Tuileries, on the quays and bridges, in the fields, the streets, at the windows, or on the tops of houses, besides the inhabitants of all the towns and villages of the environs. Never before was a philosophical experiment so magnificently attended...

Between one and two o'clock, all eyes were gratified with seeing it rise majestically from among the trees, and ascend gradually above the buildings, a most beautiful spectacle. When it was about two hundred feet high, the brave adventurers held out and waved a little white pennant, on both sides their car, to salute the spectators, who returned loud claps of applause. The wind was very little, so that the object though moving to the northward, continued long in view; and it was a great while before the admiring people began to disperse. The persons embarked were Mr. Charles, professor of experimental philosophy, and a zealous promoter of that science; and one of the Messieurs Robert, the very ingenious constructors of the machine.

When it arrived at its height, which I suppose might be three or four hundred toises, it appeared to have only horizontal motion. I had a pocket­glass, with which I followed it, till I lost sight first of the men, then of the car, and when I last saw the balloon, it appeared no bigger than a walnut. I write this at seven in the evening. What became of them is not yet known here. I hope they descended by daylight, so as to see and avoid falling among trees or on houses, and that the experiment was completed without any mischievous accident, which the novelty of it and the want of experience might well occasion. I am the more anxious for the event, because I am not well informed of the means provided for letting themselves down, and the loss of these very ingenious men would not only be a discouragement to the progress of the art, but be a sensible loss to science and society

You can read the entire letter as part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook at Fordham university.

The French fan also shows the 1784 ascent of Guyton de Morveau. But his story, and his plans for a corps of balloonists during the French Revolution, are tales for another time.