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Daniel Boone's rifle was given the nickname the "Ticklicker" because it was said that he could shoot the tick off of a bear's nose.
Posted December 4, 2013
By: Jacqueline Heinzen, Curatorial Intern
This past summer, as my final semester at the University of Louisville was fast approaching, I was seeking out valuable experiences that I would be able to draw from throughout my career in Anthropology. I scanned the departmental website for available internships and was accepted for a position as an intern for the Collections Department at the Frazier History Museum. In the short months that I have been working for the Frazier, I have documented hundreds of toy soldiers in the Collections inventory, researched artifacts to supply the information for their display, and worked on designing and installing a museum exhibit.
I’m quick to slip the latter achievement into conversations when friends and family ask, “So, what do you do there?” The exhibit I helped to assemble depicts the scene of “Le Retour des Cendres de Napoléon,” meaning “The Return of Napoleon’s Ashes.” When Napoleon’s ashes were returned to France, they were escorted in a large, gilded carriage, led by a cortège of soldiers and musicians; a fitting display to be situated near the exit of The Eye of Napoleon exhibit. Designing the exhibit was a deeply informative and enriching experience. First, I identified and inventoried toy soldiers to determine their historical relevance. The next task was to determine configuration; what should the order of the parade be? What made sense, historically and aesthetically? The Collections staff put a lot of trust in me to make the right decisions concerning placement, fueling my sense of duty to get things right. Making accurate measurements was the next step – the ideal display is completely full, but not too crowded, and organized neatly. Presentation is everything!
Installing the exhibit was equal parts rewarding and tense. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and attempting to situate the soldiers in flawless military formations made me go cross-eyed a number of times. I was taught the technique of melting wax between my fingers to secure the bases of the soldiers to the display; this ensures that the tremors of nearby footsteps aren’t strong enough to take down the cavalry. From the grand golden carriage in the rear to the Italian Grenadiers in the front, it took me several hours to set all of the soldiers in place, occasionally stopping to engage with curious museum guests and answer questions about the historical event I was recreating. I felt proud that my work had prompted such interest and appreciation from the public; the exhibit’s appearance drew compliments several times as groups passed by. The glass case was finally lifted over and into place, and I took a few steps back to get the full, lit effect (and to take a few dozen pictures to spam my friends with, of course.)
This “Le Retour de Cendres de Napoléon” exhibit is on display on the 3rd floor by the elevators, by the exit of The Eye of Napoleon exhibit.
Posted October 21, 2013
By Kelly Moore
As “An Evening with Poe” prepares to open this week, the Interpretations team behind it all thought we’d share some images with you to give you a snapshot (pun intended) of what goes into putting it all together.
Here’s Victoria Reibel, our stage manager/light and sound tech, working on programming lighting cues for the show.
Kelly Moore and Eric Frantz work on elements for the set.
The Poe set in progress.
Eric Frantz practices with his percussion set for one of the show’s pieces.
Tony Dingman and Kelly Moore in rehearsal.
Mick Sullivan rehearses music for “An Evening with Poe.”
Posted October 3, 2013
By Gwen Kirchner
I love fall! The colors, the crispness in the air, all the beautiful decorations, and pumpkin flavored everything. Pumpkin
spice lattes. Just the words make my mouth water. Anyway, another reason I love fall so much is that every year the amazing actors at the Frazier History Museum present dramatizations of stories and poems from Edgar Allan Poe. These hardworking and talented people create a stage production that can be enjoyed most evenings right here at the Frazier.
But, I’m sure you didn’t know these same three actors put together a slightly different production just for school groups. The show, called Tales of Poe, is schedule for four days with two shows each day running back to back. After each session, the actors are available for questions about the performance, costumes, the pieces themselves, and even why the sky is blue. Strangely, enough we had a student once ask Kelly Moore why the sky was blue. Kelly, who’s not just incredibly beautiful and talented, but also quite smart, explained the scientific principle behind the sky’s color.
After the performance, the students head to the galleries with a Haunted
History Investigation Guide created specifically for this program. It’s really fun and a bit gruesome as it recounts all the true tales of horror throughout history. As with the years before, each of the dates are already booked solid with schools who know how wonderful this production is. I cannot wait until the kids see our actors in action. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll meet Kelly’s companion for the month.
Posted September 30, 2013
By Kelly Moore
It’s that time of year again: the Interpretations Department is preparing its fourth live production of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. What you may not know is that putting the show together is a process of many months. A month or two after the show closes in early November, Tony Dingman, Eric Frantz and I begin brainstorming for the next year. New poems and stories are proposed, and some from previous years are revisited. Our aim is to always present a few new pieces, making the show a different experience each year. We try to stretch ourselves into new ways of storytelling and come up with unexpected approaches to the material.
We present two different versions of the show: a roughly 45-minute matinee for students and a longer evening version which includes additional pieces and live music. This year, we’re actually presenting three short stories for the evening show that aren’t in the matinee, so we’re really rehearsing two separate shows. Between the three of us, we do everything – script work, costume building, sewing or painting set pieces, lighting design, and more. In the next three weeks, check back to see a bit of what goes into building “An Evening with Poe.”
Eric Frantz, Kelly Moore, and Tony Dingman rehearsing for “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
Posted September 25, 2013
By Danielle Burns, Collections Department Intern
This summer I applied on the Frazier History Museum official website for the Collections internship and was fortunate enough to have been chosen for such a great opportunity this semester. As a dedicated student at the University of Louisville, I wish to gain experience in becoming an art historian and to further my search for the suitable museum career for me. My main project here at the Frazier Museum is to assist in the identification process, research, cataloguing and proper storage for the really, really BIG collection of toy soldiers. I’ve been told there are 13,000 individual figures and counting…
Although this process can be, at times, a tedious one, it is also a part of an enchanting learning experience. I have stationed myself in front of cases of toy soldiers on display and have had the chance to dig through the boxes and shelves of the Collections below, all in to order to catalogue each one in the museum’s system. I must identify each figure with a number, name, date depicted and description of clothing (which, by the way, is amazingly accurate to the times!). I have learned that this large collection has come from fifty different manufacturers from six different continents, all of which are painted by hand! This attention to detail is apparent through close observation of each uniform. It is incredible!
Just last week, I was collecting data at the first floor “Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel” display case, which consists not only of “soldiers” but dukes, duchesses, kings and marching bands alike. Here, I got stumped concerning the identification of a musical instrument that is held by a French band member.. Then I noticed the strange instrument seemed to be a part of almost every French marching band during the Napoleonic Era! I kept referring to this instrument as the “black squiggly thing”. I wasn’t familiar enough about the history of musical instruments, so I began to ask staff members as they passed by. We eventually had about a half dozen of us surrounding the case, offering suggestions as to what this instrument might be! A musically inclined staff member identified the mystery instrument as a “serpent horn”. Yes, it does quite resemble a snake! After doing a little research, I have come to find that this wooden bass serpent horn originated in France in the late 16th century. The main purpose for its creation was to emphasize the lowest male voice in church choirs, first in France and eventually throughout Europe. This first version of the instrument was bigger and heavier. The musician was required to be seated in order to play the instrument. Later, it was modified to a lighter, smaller version for military purposes. This is the version carried in our French marching bands. I wonder how the musician could play the instrument while marching.
So the next time you come visit the Frazier History Museum, I encourage you to look a little closer at the toy soldier collection, in particular, the Napoleonic era marching bands. Be sure to try and spot the serpent horn! This study of the Napoleonic toy soldiers has been a pleasant one in preparation for the Eye of Napoleon exhibit which will open in October. For such tiny people, they are full of information and marvelous stories. You are sure to learn about something new and interesting!
Photo by Danielle Burns, Collections Department Intern
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