May 2009 BIG! Exposition Events at the National Archives

The following news release was written by NARA staff:

NARA 75 years Washington, DC. In May, the National Archives celebrates its new exhibition “BIG! Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the National Archives,” with free public programs including film screenings, author lectures, and a music discussion. All programs will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is fully accessible. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on the corner of 7th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW.

Film Screening – The BIG Picture: The Evolution of the Wide Screen Film: The Wind and the Lion
Thursday, May 7, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
The Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in partnership with The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film and the Foundation for the National Archives, presents an illustrated lecture by Rob “Dr. Format” Hummel, tracing the history of motion picture formats from the silent era to the 21st century. Hummel is a member of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council. Following the lecture, we will screen the 1975 adventure film The Wind and the Lion. Featuring wide-screen Panavision cinematography by Academy Award®-winner Billy Williams, this epic based on a real event tells the story of a Moroccan sheik (Sean Connery) who kidnaps an American woman (Candice Bergen) and her son, setting off an international incident in which President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) becomes involved. Directed by John Milius. (119 minutes.)

Author Lecture and Music – BIG Songs from a BIG Collapse: The Music of the Great Depression
Wednesday, May 13, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Michael Lasser presents “Let’s Go Slumming, Nose-Thumbing, at Park Avenue,” a lecture on the popular songs of the Great Depression and their contrast with the music of the hedonistic Roaring Twenties. Lasser will discuss the history of this rich generation of songs and songwriters with an emphasis on the themes of class consciousness, unemployment, and social unrest. He is the host of “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” a nationally syndicated radio show, as well as co-author (with Phillip Furia) of the recent book America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. A book signing will follow the program.

Discussion and Screening – When Television Became BIG
Thursday, May 14, at noon, Jefferson Room
By the mid-1950s, television had arrived. In 1954, when 80 percent of all American living rooms had a television set, a Senate investigation examined the role of television in the growing problem of juvenile delinquency. A chart used in those hearings is part of the exhibit “BIG!” Independent scholar David Weinstein (The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television) will discuss the early days of television and how it evolved and grew during the 1950s. Joining Weinstein will be Arthur Forrest, who in the late 1940s (as a teenager) began a distinguished television career at WABD in New York. He later worked as a cameraman and director on such shows as Captain Video, Wonderama, and The Jerry Lewis Telethon. Also joining in the discussion will be Jim Silman, who began at WTOP-TV in Washington, DC in 1951, and went on produce and direct such local kid shows as Pick Temple’s Ranch and Ranger Hal, eventually becoming WTOP’s Program Director. The program will feature clips from classic television shows of the 1950s. This program is presented by The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film at the National Archives.

Film Screening—The Best Years of Our Lives
Saturday, May 23 at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Three World War II veterans (Dana Andrews, Frederic March, Harold Russell) return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed. Adapted from MacKinley Kantor’s novella, The Best Years of Our Lives won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Directed by William Wyler. (1946; 176 minutes) This program is presented by The Charles Guggenheim Center for the Documentary Film at the National Archives.

Author Lecture on BIG Economic Impact – The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
Saturday, May 27 at noon, Jefferson Room
Amity Shlaes discusses her book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, which draws parallels between the Great Depression and the current economic situation. Shlaes rejects the conventional interpretation that the Depression represented capitalism’s failure and that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal helped Americans weather hard times. She argues that it was Government intervention that made the Depression great and that seeking to act like FDR today will create large-scale budgetary obligations. A book signing will follow the program.

BIG! Exhibition
The National Archives celebrates its 75th year in 2009 with a new exhibition featuring big records, big events, and big ideas. At a time when many people struggle to see documents and images on smaller and smaller screens, the National Archives exhibition “BIG!” presents the nation’s original record in its full-scale glory. From the 13-foot scroll of the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, to the size 22 sneaker of basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, the items in the exhibition are pieces of the American story–writ large. The exhibit, on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building, runs through January 3, 2010. Spring hours (through Labor Day) are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily. Admission is free. BIG! related items and the books featured above are available in the Archives Shop. Call (202) 357-5271.

All programs are free and open to the public. To verify dates and times of the programs, call 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events. To request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program, please e-mail public.program “at” or call (202) 357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event.

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