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History Center unveils ‘Atlanta in 50 Objects’ exhibit
ABOVE, PHOTO BY JOE EARLE; RIGHT AND BELOW, ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
Above, guest curator Amy Wilson, left, and Atlanta History Center Exhibitions Director Dan Rooney, right, began planning for the “Atlanta in 50 Objects” show in 2014. They solicited ideas online and through a suggestion box at the center, letting Atlantans pick what should be included.
Continued from page 1 101 Objects.” The History Center wanted to add another element to their show. They wanted to let Atlantans pick what should be included. “We turned it over to Atlanta,” Rooney said. The curators solicited ideas online and through a suggestion box at the center. Wilson and Rooney said they built a database of 200 to 300 ideas and let
the most-nominated notions rise to the top of the list. “The folks who gave us these suggestions had more knowledge on these subjects than we did,” Rooney said. “I think museums have evolved to realize they have to share the authority. The authorship of this exhibit was the public.” List of subjects in hand, Wilson and Rooney set to work finding the objects to illustrate the various subjects. It made quite an eclectic collection.
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What made the cut? A 1996 Olympic torch and a classic Coke bottle, a mockup of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s train-to-the-planes and a 1960s uniform for a Delta Air Lines stewardess, a model of downtown from architect John Portman’s offices showing the buildings he’d designed and developed, a World Series ring from the late broadcaster Skip Carey, a figure of a dying soldier from the Cyclorama, the bat Hank Aaron used to hit his 600th homer, a Tshirt from the Peachtree Road Race, a Centers for Disease Control microscope, Atlanta Constitution Editor Ralph McGill’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Time magazine naming Ted Turner “Man of the Year.” Rooney said the curators couldn’t get everything they wanted into the display. They asked for an original typescript of “Gone With The Wind,” but that had to remain in a vault. At one point he thought it would be a good idea to include the cockpit from a Delta airplane, but decided it was just too big
to fit. Still, some off-beat surprises did manage to show up in the crowded exhibit hall. A mold of the Atlanta Zoo’s favorite gorilla, the late Willie B., has his handprints displayed near a car from Priscilla the Pink Pig, the children’s ride that once graced Rich’s downtown department store. Along with a display about the civil rights movement is an ax handle signed by segregationist Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox. The rise of the movie-making business is illustrated through a signature sword one character uses to lop the heads off zombies in “The Walking Dead.” And there’s a big banner from the Chattahoochee Raft Race, a Memorial Day event that drew thousands to ride Atlanta’s river in the 1970s. What does the exhibit say about Atlanta? “It’s a very diverse place,” Wilson said. And, she said, looking at the cases around her, “it shows a lot of fun. When you look around, there are a lot of things that are fun.”
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