By ERIN ALLEN
Comedian Bob Hope and the Library’s new exhibition “Hope for America: Performers, Politics & Pop Culture” were the talk of the town in June, following the exhibition’s opening on June 11 (see story on page 143). On view indefinitely, “Hope for America” highlights the funnyman’s political humor, his relationship with U.S. presidents and the interplay among the worlds of comedy, politics and civic activism.
Ending a segment on ABC World News, anchorman David Muir featured clips from various Bob Hope performances, calling many of them “pretty timely, even today.”
Roll Call reporter Alison McSherry called Hope a “pack rat”—much to the benefit of the Library of Congress.
“While the exhibit is certainly a celebration of Bob Hope and his accomplishments, it is also a celebration of America and the right to free speech,” she said.
Ed Rothstein of The New York Times toured the exhibition and offered his critique. “There is so much to listen to or watch or think about that the impression of miscellany itself seems a kind of showbiz: there’s something here for just about everyone.”
Offering a retrospective of Hope’s political satire was Associated Press reporter Brett Zongker. He also spoke with Hope’s daughter Linda, who said, “That was the thing that kind of set Dad apart a little bit. He was really basically respectful of both sides of the political argument.” Of the Library’s exhibition that honors her father, she said, “It’s really a thrill.”
Following the exhibit’s opening, Linda Hope shared firsthand memories of her father with a packed house at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va. Culpeper-Star Exponent reporter Allison Brophy Champion was on hand to cover the event.
“I’ve been in the television business a long time, and so to see some of the old equipment and how it’s been modernized in order to preserve the items they have here has just been wonderful. That whole process and the campus here is just very, very exciting,” said Hope.
Also running stories about the exhibition were USA Today, Punchline Magazine, WTOP, The Canadian Press, CBC Arts, The Straits Times (Singapore) and The Advertiser.
Speaking of world treasures like Hope, the Library also featured rare portolan charts at a symposium held May 21.
“It is a rare representative of one of the world’s greatest and most enduring mysteries: Where and how did medieval mapmakers, apparently armed with no more than a compass, an hourglass and sets of sailing directions, develop stunningly accurate maps of southern Europe, the Black Sea and North African coastlines, as if they were looking down from a satellite, when no one had been higher than a treetop?” said Neely Tucker of The Washington Post.
Tucker also spoke with the “slim, handsome, intense, bespectacled” John Hessler of the Library’s Geography and Map Division, which houses the portolan charts.
“Even with all the research that has been done on them the world over, there’s not a single question about them that we can definitively answer,” said Hessler.
The human mind is another area of enormous mystery. In his illustrated manuscript, “The Red Book,” Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung explored his subconscious mind during a turbulent period in his life. The Library’s display of this seminal work along with other items from its collections, and a related symposium, drew attention from Jungian scholars and analysts. The exhibition and symposium won coverage by psychoanalytic press such as Psychiatric News, the Observer (Association of Psychological Science), APA Monitor, gradPSYCH magazine and the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychoanalysis newsletter. The exhibit was also covered by the Local News Service (for Channels 4, 5, 9) and Artcyclopedia.com.
Erin Allen is acting editor of The Gazette, the Library’s staff newsletter.