Ardis Butler James, 85, co-founder of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska. Margalit Fox in the New York Times.
How to preserve Lady Gaga’s meat dress for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bob Pool in the Los Angeles Times.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says he visits the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City at least once a year. Mark Gonzales in the Chicago Tribune.
Andrew C. Revkin reviews Tim Flannery’s “Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet” in the New York Times
A 1918 example of airmail from the New York Public Library, home of the in the Benjamin K. Miller collection of U.S. stamps. I also found some mail from the 1912 Aviation Meet at Dominguez Field. A neat surprise!
The raw material of scholarship — books, diaries, documents, photographs and other material — is being digitized. But does putting so much resource material on the Internet “cheapen scholarship?” James Gleick in the New York Times.
The case against the Grand Egyptian Museum, by Mohamed Elshahed in Jadaliyya.
This is a provocative essay and I will only quote a bit of it.
The Egyptian Museum, more accurately known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, was established in 1835 by the government in Azbakiyya and later moved to multiple locations. Its current Tahrir Square, salmon-colored edifice was built in 1901. The politics of Egyptian archaeology and the Museum—where newly discovered objects were stored or displayed —were complex as Elliott Colla expounded in his 2007 book, Conflicted Antiquities: Egyptology, Egyptomania, Egyptian Modernity. European explorers dominated Egyptian archaeology, as well as the processes by which found items were catalogued, studied, and displayed.
After the 1952 coup d’état, Gamal Abdel Nasser established an Egyptian Ministry of Culture. For a few years, Pharaonic Egypt captured the national imagination, until Nasser’s regime fully focused on Pan-Arabism. During those brief early years, the state directly manipulated Egypt’s cultural history and material legacy to fit a nationalist narrative. Certain personalities and episodes were celebrated, such as Mena, the first king who unified Egypt three millennia BCE. Celebrating the heritage of Ancient Egypt was further illustrated in 1955 by the placement of Ramses II’s colossal statue at the heart of Cairo’s main square just outside the train station. Films, exhibitions, photography books, home decorations and fashion were inspired by Ancient Egypt. Tahrir Square was the center of Nasser’s Cairo, and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities was at the heart of Tahrir Square.
The Egyptian Museum became a destination for package tourists to indulge in their fantasies about mummies and the Boy King. From the start, the Museum fulfilled touristic and cultural functions for different audiences. However, by the 1970s it had lost its cultural orientation towards Egyptian audiences and had become more exclusively touristic. The erection of a high iron fence around the building that was once directly accessible from Tahrir Square further isolated it from Egyptians. In the following decades, the Egyptian Museum became heavily guarded and functioned more as a storage facility rather than as one of the most important public museums in the world.
Adding insult to injury, during the Tahrir protests of 9 March, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities became known as salakhana: the torture chamber. Military police used the museum as a command center, due to its secure location, where they held, interrogated, and tortured protesters. The single most important museum in the country with Egypt’s most valuable artifacts was transformed into a place where Egyptians were beaten and humiliated.