Reminiscent of our colorful 1970s
Colorful clothes, President Jimmy Carter and his cardigans, the oil crisis, the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the bicentenary of our country.
What do all these historical events, nostalgic objects and memorable characters have in common? They are all part of the 1970s, the decade that is the subject of Keller Gallery’s new exhibition at Wm. McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. This exhibition will be exhibited on September 23 at the museum.
The posting was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every 10 years, we examine a decade of the 20th century at the Keller Gallery,” explained Kim Kenney, executive director of the McKinley Presidential Library and also the museum’s curator. “We were about to do the 1970s in 2020, but we postponed the show twice because we also wanted our fall fundraiser to be a disco party, and COVID had other plans for us. We’re so excited she’s finally here!”
The 1970s presented a decade filled with both serious experimentation and joyous color. Interestingly, the exhibit shows that the two may have been linked.
“The 1970s were definitely a complicated time,” Kenney said. “So many traumatic things happened – the Kent State shootings, Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, the oil crisis. Yet the material culture of the decade reflects a sense of joy in the wild and the crazy color combinations. I joked that if you just look at the artifacts in this exhibit they will do you good, but if you read everything I wrote (in the exhibit panels) it will definitely get you down. My theory is that people wanted to escape all the bad news happening around them by wearing funky clothes and dancing at the disco.”
About disco party
The private disco party that Kenney referred to will take place Thursday from 6-8 p.m. The event, she said, will include a progressive dinner on the floor of history with food stations offering food from the 1970s. Guests will also be able to listen to music from the era, watch dance demonstrations and have your picture taken at a photo booth sponsored by Goodwill Industries. And a costume contest for the best outfits inspired by the 1970s will be offered.
Tickets are $45 per person, $40 for museum members and $35 for students. Prepaid reservations are required. The deadline is noon on September 21. Call 234-458-2825.
A special preview of the Keller Gallery exhibition before it opens to the public is scheduled for Friday during regular opening hours.
Kenney said there would likely be plenty of interest in attending a disco party, as the exhibit they will see is, for many, as much nostalgic memory as history.
“For many of our visitors, the 1970s won’t seem like history,” she said. “But the reality is that 1970 was already 52 years ago. Historians usually wait about 20 years before looking at a historical era, so we’re well within the bounds of classifying the 1970s as history. .”
Bring a decade to life
Kenney said that “whenever you highlight a decade that some or most of your audience will remember, you inevitably invoke feelings of nostalgia, especially with familiar toys, clothes, and household items.”
“For everyone else, it’s as distant as World War I or the colonial era,” she noted. “Being objective is key. I don’t want my exhibits of the decade to be a rosy vision of the past. While the artifacts are definitely skewed that way, I wanted to be sure to create panels about the hardest things to do. address, like the Kent State shootings or the resignation of Richard Nixon. I want to look at the decade as a whole, not just the disco music and bell bottoms.
Artifacts used to bring the 70s to life include items from the McKinley Museum collection and items donated for the exhibition on loan.
“I didn’t have many opportunities to merge the heavier themes of the exhibit with artifacts from our collection, but I was able to on a few occasions,” Kenney said. “We were able to borrow two POW bracelets from Nancy Suba, who bought them from an ad at the back of a magazine. I was able to connect the CB radio in our collection to the oil crisis, because they were popularized by truckers who were helping each other find fuel and warning others of speed cameras.The speed limit on national roads was lowered to 55 to optimize fuel efficiency.
Two historic events in American history are linked by artifacts that some visitors might not expect to be museum tickets. But, they do indeed capture the moment in 70s history.
“We have four cans of vintage beer, so I wrote about the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age to 18 in 1971, and 30 states also lowered their drinking age,” Kenney explained. “The voting age was lowered because young men were old enough to be drafted at 18, but they couldn’t vote until they were 21, which many thought was unfair. The addition of a ashtray at the last minute allowed me to write about Richard Nixon signing a law banning television and radio advertising for cigarettes in 1970. Smoking rates have declined every year since 1973.”
Kenney also spoke of recognizable artifacts that vividly illustrate the decade.
“I borrowed some kitchen appliances from my friend Tom Anderson that were made by The Hoover Company,” she said. “There’s a burnt orange fondue pot, an avocado green blender and a Harvest Gold electric skillet. These are THE colors of the 1970s!
“We borrowed rock albums from Nancy Suba, including Bruce Springsteen, Abba, Journey, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. A highlight of the exhibition is the clothes, displayed on mannequins on a dance floor under a disco ball We’ve got everything from bell bottom jumpsuits and halter tops to embroidered jeans and fringe vests We’ve got a leisure suit, which we borrowed from our specialist’s dad digital learning, Brandy Smith. We hardly have any men’s clothing in our collection, unless it’s a tuxedo or a military uniform.”
The curator’s choice
Kenney said clothes are his favorite artifacts. And visitors to the exhibition will discover unpublished pieces on display.
“Since we haven’t done a show on this time period before, almost all of the clothing hasn’t been on display before,” Kenney said. “In fact, this is the first time many of these artifacts from our permanent collection have been on display.
“I like to display our clothing collection because I think it’s an important touchstone for visitors, whatever era we’re focusing on. For example, if we have Victorian dresses on display, the visitors will notice how restrictive they look with corsets or crinolines or the bustle, and how modern clothing is so much more comfortable.But when we exhibit late 20th century clothing, many styles have since returned, because let’s face it: there’s nothing new in fashion.
Whenever an entire decade of history is captured in a single exhibit, a curator needs to think in broad terms and highlight significant events, Kenny said. Artifacts encapsulate widespread and memorable lifestyle trends. The words on the panels speak in general terms to recall years of history.
“Although I don’t remember much of the 1970s, as a historian I think it was a very tumultuous time for the country,” Kenney said. “There are many parallels to life today, such as inflation, political scandals and an identity revolution for women, racial minorities and the LGBTQ community.
“One of my favorite things about studying history is understanding how it all fits together. After the war protests ended with the end of the Vietnam War, the younger generation started to become introspective. This focus on “self-help” led writer Tom Wolfe to label the 1970s “The Me Decade.” The focus would be on material success in the 1980s, when conservative politics dominated politics. that’s for another show!”
Contact Gary at [email protected] On Twitter: @gbrownREP
About the exhibition
What: “The decade of the self: a look back at the 1970s”
Where: The Keller Gallery of Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum” at 800 McKinley Monument Dr. NW, Canton
When: Effective Friday, September 23, 2022
Who: The exhibition is curated by McKinley Museum Executive Director Kimberly Kenney
Why: To mark a decade in Stark County history
How: Keller Gallery Visitors, Beginning Friday, September 23, visitors to the McKinley Museum can view “The Me Decade” during regular McKinley Museum hours of operation, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
A related event
In celebration of Keller Gallery’s new exhibition “The Me Decade: A Look Back at the 1970s, Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum’s Fall Fundraiser will be a disco party on September 22, from 6-8 p.m.
The event will feature a progressive dinner on the floor of history with food stations featuring 1970s-inspired dishes. Guests will enjoy music from the era, dance demonstrations, a photo booth (sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland & East Central Ohio), a costume contest for the best 1970s-inspired outfits, and a preview of the Keller Gallery exhibit before it opens to the public the next day.
The cost is $45 per person, $40 for museum members and $35 for university students with a valid student ID. Prepaid reservations are required. The reservation deadline is Wednesday, September 21 at noon. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, call (234) 458-2825 or visit https://mckinleymuseum.org/events/fall-fundraiser-disco-party.