Friday, November 7, 2014

The New York Public Library - A Treasure To Discover

Luckily I had a half-hour free before meeting an old friend for lunch right around the block from the main branch of the New York Public Library, a massive building I used to frequent decades ago when Manhattan was my home. Behind the famous majestic lions, marble steps, and columned facade of "the Beaux-Arts landmark building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street" there are always wonders to behold.  Now named the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (thank you Mr Schwarzman for all you did to preserve and enrich the exterior of this magnificent place) inside I have always loved seeing what this building is besides books, books, and more books. 

Over Here  WWI and the Fight for the American Mind  is an exhibit that traces how the American People were "sold" on our involvement in the Great War. 

This small exhibit is set in a glorious room that my photos won't do justice to (no flash allowed) but I hope you'll get a sense of the intensity and interest of the display. Great graphics on a backdrop of marble and ornamented crown moldings...

Along with the beauty of the room, I loved the way the exhibit showed the progression of public sentiment through sheet music…beginning with the adamant reluctance to get involved with

to the slow and reluctant acknowledgement of the coming storm...

to George M. Cohan's rousing rallying cry (following the sinking of the Lusitania) with the most popular song of the Great World War...

and finally to the demand that people engage with the war effort and stand up for being AN AMERICAN!

Appropriately the exhibit gave a look at the effort of the public libraries to do their bit and the play on children as part both those to engage and those to protect...

(Below) This was an advertisement in 
the Ladies' Home Journal, October 1918.

As I left the exhibit…

I noticed the commemorative plaque honoring those from the library who fought (and died) in THE World War (because they truly thought there would only ever be one)

I looked up at the magnificent ceilings and down at the ornate doors and doorways,

...into the lovely book/giftshop to the treasures for adults and especially for children.

There I was, leaving the library...and just when I thought my library adventure had ended, as I walked down 41st Street toward my friend, all along the way, embedded in the sideway, were plaques celebrating books and words…

And there it was.  A message meant for me.  A kick to my writer's block.

I am trying to tell the truth about myself, but it is hard…so very hard.

1 comment:

  1. We're all trying. . . but you're right, it's very hard. Hang in there.