Friday, 25 May 2012

Four score and seven years...

I had something of an American History lesson on Wednesday, with a visit to Seidman House. This is the University's Special Collection and Archives space. It is one of the best loved buildings on campus and a welcome retreat for grad students in particular to find a little peace. It has the feel of an alpine villa about it and has retained its distinctive Sixties vibe (Seidman House was the 3rd building to be built on campus, back in 1965):

Seidman House was originally the University's Students' Union

Like many buildings here in Michigan, Seidman House includes a grand fireplace which acts as a focal point for the
building. It's hard to believe in the 85° heat right now but the campus experiences several feet of snow during Winter so a warm fireplace is something of a necessity and the students must really appreciate being to curl up in the lounge area (pictured above). 

The archive includes one of the largest collections of materials all about Abraham Lincoln in the USA. There are over 30,000 volumes in this part of the collection alone and often these items are lent out to national museums and other exhibitions:

The special collection includes figurines, portraits and other arts & crafts

One of the original 'Wanted' posters issued
after President Lincoln was assassinated

The annals boast a fine array of Alice in Wonderland wood engravings, Publishers' Decorative Bindings and around 600 map back books. There are even several incunabula, the oldest of these dating back to 1474 (Summa de Virtutibus et Vitiis). I'm told students get a real buzz from being able to handle and examine books which are so old without the need for gloves or other special equipment. Much of the collection is digitized and available online here.This includes some of the incunabula, as well as photos dating back to the days when the campus barely existed.

I thoroughly enjoyed the utterly American chili corn dogs experience (or veggie chilli corn dogs, at least, in my case). I also made it out to the Meijer Botanical Gardens and sculpture park... followed by some duelling pianos!:

Some superb improv piano playing at Mojos Bar in Grand Rapids!

Meijer Gardens - Bend of Mind by Tony Cragg (2005) 

This 24-foot tall horse sculpture was 
designed by Leonardo da Vinci

Sean Henry's 'Lying Man' enjoys the sunshine at Meijer Gardens

The library at Meijer Gardens
features a book tower made
out of 27 types of granite!

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