Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Atlanta History Center has big plans for 150

I caught up this week with Gordon L. Jones, senior military historian and curator at the Atlanta History Center. He gave me a brief overview of what the center has planned to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

A major symposium scheduled for January 2012 will cover the hot-button issue: Causes of the war.

"The point is to have a discussion," said Jones (left), who hopes to have scholars James McPherson and Gary Gallagher, among others, attend.

The AHC is submitting grant requests for the symposium, the only one in the Southeast. Each symposium across the country will focus on a specific topic.

"It will be the most collective brainpower in one room," Jones promises of the Atlanta event.

Speakers will take questions from the audience, said Jones. "There's not as much room for [Civil War] myth as there used to be."

2014, the actual 150th anniversary of the Atlanta Campaign, will see two exhibits at the AHC.

One is a traveling textile exhibition, with a focus on cloth and quilts. The AHC will include items from its collection, Jones said.

A show tentatively entitled "Relics and Remembrance" will draw from the AHC's own collection to look at lessons from the Civil War. The AHC's current "War in our Backyards" (right) show also includes relics, as well as maps, drawings, an interactive display and a 3-D theater.

The AHC is building 150th partnerships with other institutions, including Port Columbus, Emory University, Georgia Tech and the Georgia Historical Society, said Hillary Hardwick, vice president of marketing.

Jones expects the observation of the 150th anniversary to be different from the centennial, which was told from a Lost Cause, white perspective, he said.

The AHC, for example, has an exhibit entitled "From Civil War to Civil Rights."

Visitors these days are much more diverse, Jones said.

"We didn't see these audiences 20 years ago."

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