Tuesday, May 29, 2001
Snowglobes tacky, wacky
A UC library displays its blizzards in plastic
By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Displayed in a University of Cincinnati library is a growing collection that screams for a scholar who wants to specialize in tacky.
A sailor snowglobe from Bar Harbor, Maine, is part of the library collection.
(Gary Landers photos)
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It's the 300-plus snowglobes and snowglobe pens donated to the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
Snowglobes are clear balls encasing a figure or scene on which snow falls when the ball is tipped.
In the journal Art Documentation, DAAP head librarian Jane Carlin said the hands-on snowglobes elicit the greatest interest among DAAP's unusual collections.
Some might describe it as "weird,' she wrote. We prefer the term "whimsical,' a curiosity if you will.
DAAP's first snowglobe, a bikini-clad water skier, was donated in 1983. The largest is one of the English prehistoric site Stonehenge.
Student David Thompson admires some of the collection.
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More typical are a sailor from Bar Harbor, Maine; a dolphin from Galveston Island, Texas; and an alligator from New Orleans.
In her article, Mrs. Car lin describes the development of snowglobes brought home by faculty, staff and colleagues.
Over time, "snow' has evolved from white flakes to flakes of iridescent glitter, glass globes have been replaced by plastic ones, and games have become part of the fun of turning over the shaker.
Others are treasures from other librarians, including Venus de Bear, in which an armless bear inhabits the globe. It was donated by Chris Hatten of the Huntington, W.Va., Art Museum.
A New Orleans alligator.
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The collection will be cataloged, described and placed on the library's home page.
Mrs. Carlin said she never put a dollar value on the collection, calling it priceless.
Other whimsical DAAP library collections include one assembled by Cincinnatians Margaret Pogue Fisk and Isabelle Eastman Fisk, members of the family that once gave its name to a department store at Fifth and Vine streets.
The two women amassed photographs, filmstrips, postcards (mounted in tooled, leather-bound albums), and slides (stored in small steamer trunks) during their travels to New Guinea, Easter Island, Tahiti, Tibet, Nepal, remote Andean villages in Peru and Chile, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mayan Mexico, as well as Russia, China, Japan and the American West.
The unmarried sisters also did the Grand Tour of Europe during their travels from 1935 to 1977, Mrs. Carlin said, and the collection includes their diaries.
DAAP is not unique in its mixture of scholarly and whimsical collections.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Ohio State University has more than 100 pairs of glasses worn by celebrities, collected by a former optometry professor who wanted to create a modern eyewear exhibit and asked celebrities. He solicited eyewear celebrities ranging from President Ford to the Muppets' Miss Piggy.
Western Michigan University displays antique hearing aids on permanent loan from an alumnus.
Northeastern University has nearly two dozen women's physical education uniforms from the 1920s through the 1960s.
The University of California-Davis has more than 10,000 shopping bags collected by a professor of design and his friends and colleagues.
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