Democracy Matters at the Skirball Through Feb. 17, 2013
October 4, 2012 -
Interactive public and school programs highlight exhibition.
In the crucial weeks leading up to the 2012 Presidential election and beyong, the Skirball Cultural Center opened a major new exhibition anchoring a season of Democracy Matters at the Skirball.
Organized by the Library of Congress and seen by some two million visitors during its four-year run in the Librarys historic setting, Creating the United States opened on Oct. 11 and will be on view at the Skirball through February 17, 2013.
The exhibition focuses on the founding documents of our republicthe Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rightsand reveals how imagination and vision played critical roles in the formation of our nation. On view are original documents, autograph letters, rare books and manuscripts, artifacts, and many more precious and seldom traveled objects from some of the nations leading cultural institutions.
Rarely has the history of American democracy been so vividly assembled for public exhibition in Southern California, said Robert Kirschner, Skirball Museum Director.
Here at the Skirball, he continued, we seek to live and practice American democratic ideals. We view this as an expression of our purpose as a Jewish institution. Our hope is that by illuminating the lasting legacy of the founding documents, especially in shaping the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, Creating the United States will inspire visitors to participate in the democratic process today.
Creating the United States will be complemented by two exhibitions, Decades of Dissent: Democracy in Action, 19601980 displays some of the most compelling political art from the famously turbulent era of the 1960s and 1970s.
Free to Be U.S.: A First Amendment Experience probes key liberties and encourages visitors to consider their contemporary relevance.
In addition, the Skirballs permanent exhibition, Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America, will feature a special Lincoln Spotlight during the run of the three temporary exhibitions. This spotlight will present rare original artifacts on special loan from the Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.
With the cooperation of the Library of Congress, the Skirball has secured loans of additional artifacts from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Mt. Vernon Estate, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Huntington Library, and several private collections.
RELATED PUBLIC AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS
During the run of the exhibition, the Skirball will present numerous public programs that have been developed around the theme Democracy Matters at the Skirball. Among them are talks and panel discussions by prominent writers, community leaders, and scholars; an in-gallery Soapbox Series in which guest speakers will opine on such controversial issues as the right to bear arms and affirmative action; an artist residency and live concert by Marcus Shelby and his jazz ensemble; a comedy/spoken-word event, The New America, hosted by Un-Cabarets Beth Lapides; and a dramatic staged reading of Ameryka by Nancy Keystone and her Critical Mass Performance Group.
As part of its extensive outreach to local schools, the Skirball will offer an interactive gallery program for students in Grades 512, to encourage students to consider the process of debate and compromise that led to the creation of the United States, as well as the impact of the founding documents on their own lives as young Americans.
In addition, students at Granada Hills High School will take part in a six-week, in-school visual arts residency relating to the themes of Creating the United States. The residency will culminate in a Student Takeover Day at the Skirball on Thursday, November 1, and Saturday, November 3, before public hours during which participants will lead fellow high school students on an exploration of civic life with a historical perspective.