11 Aug

Feburary 19 – The Senator versus the Regulator

Anti-regulation Texas squares off against the comparatively recently-formed Federal Power Commission. Returning to our look at the red scare politics of the 1950s, this month we turn to an early moment in Lyndon Johnson’s political career that would foreshadow the energy crisis of the 1970s. Bill Childs joins us for his talk, “The Senator versus the Regulator.”

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11 Aug

Remembered By Hand: Family Histories Illuminated

The Crazy Quilt Comes to Life

In a blaze of kaleidoscopic color, the late 1870s saw a fad rush in that took the United States by storm.  In a few short years, the crazy quilt was born, reached its zenith, and began a slow descent towards obscurity.  But within those years, the crazy quilt was king.  Magazines raved and shared tips and patterns for quilting.  Companies sold templates for embroidery, appliqués aimed directly at crazy quilters, and even grab bags of crazy quilt fabric.

Most crazy quilts share several characteristics.  First, they are not really quilts at all.  There is no “quilting,” that is to say, no stitching of a top fabric to a bottom fabric through a layer of batting.  Crazy quilts typically had no batting, often were never finished, and where finished had a silk or cotton backing that only loosely connected to the top.  Crazy quilts also typically featured silks and velvets, unlike most patchwork quilts, and elaborate embroidery stitching covered seams within blocks as well as between them.  Many quilts incorporated lace, appliqués, ribbons, hand-painted fabrics, and even beads and mirrors.  They provided women the opportunity to share their needlework skills in a context far more elaborate (dare we say flashy?) than a patchwork quilt or even a sampler.

The Centennial Exposition: Cultural Influences

Though precedents do predate the 1870s, the cultural phenomenon of the crazy quilt emerged directly from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876.  This World Fair had a great influence on American culture, with millions visiting the fair and even more exposed to the exhibits through magazine articles.  Among other new trends, the Fair coincided with the first mass-marketing of Japanese culture outside of Japan.  This can be seen in the emphasis on printed fabrics, vibrant and exuberant color, and the many fan motifs incorporated into the quilts.

This exhibit brings together six crazy quilts from the Neill-Cochran House Museum’s permanent collection.  All of the quilts share characteristics, most notably an emphasis on velvet and silk fabrics and embroidered seams.  However, there are notable differences between the different quilts as well.  Some are backed, while others appear unfinished.  One quilt incorporates small mirrors, another pipe cleaners, and several are hand-painted.   All of the quilts reward close inspection and speak across the 100+ years since their creation to share the stories of their makers.

The preservation of some elements of our quilt collection is funded in part by a grant from the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas, Helena Hibbs Endowment Fund.

This exhibit will be on view from February 7th – February 25th, timed to coincide with quilt exhibitions by the Briscoe Center and the Texas Quilt Museum.

11 Aug

January 22 – Katie Robinson Edwards on Mid-Century Modernism in Texas

Before Abstract Expressionism of New York City was canonized as American postwar modernism, the United States was filled with localized manifestations of modern art. In Texas, artists absorbed and interpreted the latest, most radical formal lessons from Mexico, the East Coast, and Europe, while still responding to the state’s dramatic history and geography. This barely known chapter in the story of American art is the focus of Katie Robinson Edwards’ 2014 book Midcentury Modern Art in Texas and our subject for the first installment of Modern Times after the New Year.

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11 Aug

January 8 – NCHM Takes to the Skies: Hot air balloons and gliders

Balloons 1
Sunday Funday, rested after the holidays, soars back into action with

Hot Air Balloons and Gliders

Sunday, January 8th, 1PM to 4PM - FREE

Outside of a handful of balloon flights in the 1860’s (and the claimed 1865 first powered flight by Jacob Brodbeck outside of Luchenbach), Texans of the 19th and early 20th centuries lived entire lifetimes without seeing any aircraft in the skies above them. The first recorded powered flight in Texas took place on February 18th, 1910 in Houston. Meanwhile, Austin’s first airport, named for former city councilor Robert Mueller, opened in 1930.

Fresh from our winter break, we in the lab have been cooking up our own ideas for flying machines. While the ability to fly may seem totally routine, there’s nothing quite like the experience of making something that can climb up into the air!

How do you make a hot air balloon?

Luckily for us, lighter-than-air flight is easier to achieve than powered flight. Using simple, household materials, extra thin plastic bags, string, straws, and birthday candles become balloons that can easily reach the treetops. (Note: this is why we remember to tie strings onto our balloons so that they don’t get away from us!)

Staff and volunteers will guide you through the process of building a simple balloon, but we also encourage you to be your own engineer and experiment with different methods of constructing a lighter-than-air flier.

We’ll also have plans for a few simple gliders with some pre-built examples to launch off of our historic balcony.

Questions about this or any other event? Contact us–quick! before they fly away!

10 Aug

December 3 – Making History: Gingerbread Houses

Calling all gingerbread master builders! The Neill-Cochran House Museum has another gingerbread village ready to be trimmed out in unique holiday style. With likely origins in the Hansel and Gretel story, the Gingerbread house first arrived in North America with German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the early 19th century and has remained a part of our shared heritage ever since.

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10 Aug

November 12 – Making History: The Pinhole Camera

Though the technology behind modern photography is complex, the principles of basic black & white photography are simple enough that a $5 camera can produce detailed images with just a little care (and a little creativity, too). This ages 10 & up workshop will take you from building a pinhole camera to developing negatives in the darkroom.

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