The Museum of the Bible is Washington, D.C.’s newest museum. Behind the glittering exterior, however, is the troubling and controversial narrative that the museum promotes.
To save you the trouble, I visited the Museum of the Bible for myself. You can vicariously experience my somewhat alarming visit by reading my new opinion essay on Medium. In it, I take you through the full museum experience, highlighting the problematic assumptions and strange editorial choices at every turn. Thanks for reading!
Public domain image courtesy Pixabay. All rights reserved.
Every year, The Taos News publishes a series of special issues about Northern New Mexico’s history, art, and culture named ‘Tradiciones.’ The final issue honors people who have been nominated as “Unsung Heroes” of the community, including a “Citizen of the Year.”
I had the privilege of interviewing and profiling two of these “Unsung Heroes” this past summer, Claire Coté and Juan Abeyta. In very different ways, these two citizens of Taos County have contributed a great deal of their time and vision to their respective communities.
In “Bridging Art + Education: Questa’s Claire Coté inspires ‘awe’,” read about Claire Coté, an environmental arts advocate and educator based in Questa, New Mexico. While Coté is involved in an impressive array of community projects, her chief initiative has been the annual NeoRio event, which brings artists and participants to the dramatic landscape of the area known as ‘Wild Rivers,’ which is within Río Grande del Norte National Monument. There, in view of the Río Grande Gorge, the participants enjoy a community arts education experience unlike any other. Read the article here.
In “Risking Life and Limb: Volunteer firefighter and logger Juan Abeyta,” learn about Juan Abeyta, who has fought fires for 44 years in his native Peñasco, New Mexico. Aside from lobbying the county to build a fire station (which, after construction, was named after him), Abeyta has also enjoyed a long, dangerous career in logging. These days, he guides first responders down the the treacherous and byzantine roads in Carson National Forest, whenever he gets the call. Read the article here.
These two profiles are also available online through the ISSUU PDF viewer. (For Coté, refer to pages 30-33; for Abeyta, refer to pages 34-38). Special thanks to Katherine Egli, Karin Eberhardt, Scott Gerdes and Staci Matlock for publishing these stories and your help throughout the process. (Post featured image a photograph by Katharine Egli, courtesyThe Taos News.)
Within the Princeton University community, it is relatively well-known that Nassau Hall, the university’s flagship building, was once the site of a Revolutionary War battle and served as the capitol building of the United States. It is far less recognized as the former home of one of the first natural science museums in America, much less the second museum in the world to ever display a dinosaur skeleton.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Swiss-American geographer Arnold Guyot—one of the discoverers of the last Ice Age—began a lengthy and influential tenure as a director of the geology and geography departments at the then-named College of New Jersey (renamed Princeton in 1896).
At Princeton, he also became the first curator of the E. M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology, which was housed in Nassau Hall. Before the E.M. Museum, most natural science museums in the United States were eclectic collections of curios without any organization, much less an overarching method or worldview. Guyot, however, designed his museum so that it could demonstrate to a visitor ‘the history of the world at a glance’—in a manner similar to the presentation of his image-centric textbook, Physical Geography, published in 1873.
This museum housed a surprising array of artifacts—from Japanese swords to classical statues, from precious minerals to portraits of the Founding Fathers. And yet, the exhibits maintained a clear organization, one that emphasized a Manifest Destiny-view of the universe.
To learn more about this curious institution, read my history article, “Princeton’s Lost Museum: Arnold Guyot’s E.M. Museum and the Great Juncture of American Natural History Museums in the Late 19th Century” in the Fall 2017 issue of the Princeton Historical Review, available in PDF format. Follow this link and find the article on pages 22-50.
The featured photo of this post is from the Mudd Manuscript Library, and whose citation follows: Pach Brothers, E.M. Museum of Geology and Archaeology, Photograph, ca. 1886, Box MP42, Item 1256, Princeton University Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.
New Mexico is known for its Pueblo Revival architecture—rounded walls, Adobe finishes, and vigas (logs used as beams). The colorful town plazas built in this style evoke the Spanish colonial epoch and the heritage of Pueblo Native American architecture; they attract tourists and capture the imagination of those who witness them.
Yet the Pueblo Revival architectural style is a relatively recent invention, one that gained popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. It was also a design movement that was in many ways the work of one man: an architect named John Gaw Meem, who designed much of Santa Fe and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque during his long career. It’s a story that also features famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Schindler, and it’s an article published in the Raices (Roots) issue of The Taos News’ annual Tradiciones publication, which celebrates the culture and history of the Taos area.
Read the article (“Southwestern fantasy: John Gaw Meem, Frank Lloyd Wright and the emergence of Pueblo Revival architecture in New Mexico”) on page 14 of the ISSUU version of the publication, embedded in the webpage below or available online at this link. Many thanks to Special Sections Editor Scott Gerdes, designer Karin Eberhardt, and photographer Katherine Egli that helped see this article to print.
This week, one of my stories in The Taos News, about one of the largest residential developments in Taos County since the Great Recession, was picked up by The Taos News’ sister newspaper, The Santa Fe New Mexican. Read the story in Santa Fe’s largest newspaper here.
Last month, I had the chance to visit two spectacular Ancestral Pueblo (formerly known as Anasazi) ruin complexes—Aztec Ruins and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Northern New Mexico. I chronicled my experience visiting the two parks and the town of Aztec, New Mexico in this week’s travel section of The Taos News. You can read about the stunning vistas, ruins, and locales in my feature story, “A trip around ‘Ancestral Circle’: Aztec Ruins National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the big empty in between,” available on The Taos News website.
Taos, New Mexico, is not an ordinary American town. In many ways, it is anything but ordinary. A mountain town that is adjacent to one of the oldest continuously inhabited Native communities in the United States, an early site of Spanish settlement in the 1600s, and the home of prominent characters of the Wild West, Taos’ history is staggering. So it comes as no surprise that many interesting things have happened there over the years.
This past summer, as an Editorial Intern with The Taos News, I was tasked with creating a new weekly history column. Sifting through the newspaper’s archives, each week I found a prominent (or more often, weird) event from that week’s stories from 10, 25, and 50 years ago. In this endeavor, I uncovered such varied events as the mysterious “Taos Hum,” some macabre murder cases, archaeological discoveries, Mt. Everest rescues, deadly carnival rides, the arrival of the hippies, and many more. Here, you can take a look at some of the stories I dug up in the ten-article run.