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December 31, 2006

Henry Ford

Yesterday, my mom, my aunt, David, and I finally made it to the Henry Ford Museum. My mom had never been and David, Lesley, and I hadn't been in years, so we had a lot of fun browsing the exhibits. We all agreed that the best part was the Dymaxion House, a relatively new (2004-ish) exhibit of the house of the future invented by Buckminster Fuller. Designed in 1946, the Dymaxion House would have solved the nation's postwar housing crisis by providing cheap, easy to assemble, mass-produced homes made of the newest materials: aluminum and plastic. The Dymaxion House was ahead of its time because it was designed to minimize use of energy and natural resources. Unfortunately, back in 1946, we thought energy would always be cheap and our natural resources would never be depleted, so Fuller couldn't get the investment backing he needed to put the Dymaxion House in production. Only one was ever made, and it now sits at the Henry Ford Museum.

There was another new permanent exhibit called With Liberty and Justice For All that documents the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery, the women's rights movement, and the civil rights movement. The exhibit seems to have been built to provide a home for the chair in which Abe Lincoln was shot and for the bus where Rosa Parks took her famous stand (or sit, actually) against Jim Crow, both of which had previously been stand-alone attractions. Nevertheless, the exhibit formed a coherent narrative tied together by a timeline of the forward and backward march of libery and justice in the United States, ending with the USA Patriot Act, which is described as a giant step backward.

On previous visits to the Henry Ford, the museum seemed way too big to see everything, but on this visit I think we pretty much did see everything. We skipped Tasha Tudor's Christmas exhibit and didn't go down the clockwork, jewelry, and pewter hallways, but I think we saw everything else: cars, trains, planes, diners, household appliances, and -- yes it's still there -- Thomas Edison's last breath.

Posted by eklanche at December 31, 2006 08:32 AM


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