CLOSE
Bastoszak, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Bastoszak, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Miles Davis’s Childhood Home to Become a Museum

Bastoszak, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons
Bastoszak, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Though he made a name for himself in New York City, legendary trumpeter Miles Davis never forgot his roots. The son of a dentist, Davis spent his formative years in East St. Louis, Illinois—which is where he first began honing his craft and where, on his 13th birthday, Miles’s father presented him with a brand-new trumpet. Though the jazz great’s childhood home has been vacant for several years, a nonprofit group known as HOME (short for House of Miles East St. Louis) is planning to turn the storied property at 1701 Kansas Avenue into a museum and music education center for children.

The brainchild of Lauren Parks and Jasper Gery Pearson, the idea to transform the space began back in 2011, though reconstruction on the property didn’t begin until this month. The plan is to gut the property's interior, then restore it to what it looked like in the 1920s, when Davis called it home (he was born on May 26, 1926).

In addition to providing visitors with an intimate glimpse at how the budding musician lived, including his connection to the city, Parks and Pearson plan to develop a host of educational opportunities for kids that will include music classes, obviously, but history and community stewardship programs, too.

“We’re looking to give our kids a little sense of home,” Pearson told St. Louis Public Radio. “That’s why we called this place HOME, House of Miles East St. Louis. So when you think of home you think not only about the front door and the back door, but the whole community.” 

HOME is in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 to complete the project, which they hope to open to the public in the fall. Think of it as the birthplace of the Birth of Cool.

[h/t Curbed]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago
arrow
History
New Museum Exhibition Shows Off Rare Handwritten Letters From History’s Most Famous Figures
An autographed letter from 7-year-old Victoria, future queen of England, to her uncle, 1826.
An autographed letter from 7-year-old Victoria, future queen of England, to her uncle, 1826.
Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago

There’s something special about seeing the handwriting of one of your heroes. Just ask anyone who has gotten a celebrity’s autograph. The unique power a signature holds is at the center of an upcoming exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection.

As part of the display, the museum features drawings, signed photos, and rare letters from figures throughout history—from line drawings Michelangelo used to order marble for the facade of a basilica he was contracted to build in Florence to a previously unpublished, signed photo of Rasputin.

A line drawing with a marble order from Michelangelo
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564). Pen and ink drawing with autograph instructions for a marble order for the facade of San Lorenzo, [Florence, 1518]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.

The materials on display are just part of the collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago, a Brazilian art historian and author who started writing to prominent celebrities when he was 12 years old, asking for their autographs. Over the next 50 years, he assembled a massive collection of autographs, manuscripts, and other handwritten materials that date back to 1140. The 140 items on display at the Morgan make up just a tiny fraction of the 100,000 autographs he owns.

The items are divided up into several different categories: art, history, literature, science, music, and entertainment. Many of them have never been shown before in a public exhibition.

Handwritten mathematical equations by Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein (1879–1955). Autograph mathematical manuscript, ca. 1940s. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.

The exhibition includes treasures like a 12th century papal bull signed by four different medieval popes (three were cardinals at the time of signing) and a Catholic saint, Guarinus of Palestrina. There are documents and letters signed by royalty, including Richard III and Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots; there is a rare letter from Leon Trotsky to Frida Kahlo, written as the two were ending their affair; and an autographed draft of a letter Jean-Paul Sartre wrote to the Swedish Academy in 1964, asking them not to give him the Nobel Prize (they awarded it to him anyway). There is a draft of a poem William Butler Yeats wrote on the back of a letter, and a signed mathematical manuscript from Albert Einstein.

Below is a handwritten bill for 20 therapy sessions with Sigmund Freud. Freud charged American neurologist Roy Grinker 100 Austrian schillings per hour, or the equivalent of $20 or $25 at that time, for psychoanalysis sessions.

A handwritten note on stationary from Dr. Freud
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). Autograph invoice signed, to Roy Grinker, written on a personal correspondence card, Vienna, 30 June 1934. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.

Artist René Magritte sent this letter to photographer and filmmaker Francis Lee, suggesting Lee make use of the sequence of drawings included (of a man removing his gloves, hat, and head) in a film:

A two-page letter with drawings of men in top hats
René Magritte (1898–1967). Autograph letter signed, to Francis Lee, Brussels, 22 January 1946. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago. © 2018 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society

This is one of two surviving letters from Oscar Wilde to Bram Stoker. Wilde wanted Stoker, who worked at London’s Lyceum Theatre, to set aside a ticket for him that night:

A handwritten letter from Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900). Autograph letter signed, to Bram Stoker, London, [1879 or 1880]. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago.

This draft of the opening of Swann's Way differs slightly from what Proust eventually published. Notably, it doesn't include what would become the first sentence: “For a long time I used to go to bed early."

A ripped page from a Proust manuscript
Marcel Proust (1871–1922). Swann’s Way (Du côté de chez Swann), autograph manuscript draft of the opening passage, ca. March–April 1913. Collection of Pedro Corrêa do Lago. Image used with permission of the Proust Estate.

The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection will run from June 1 to September 16, 2018 at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
fun
Swim With a Pineapple Under the Sea at America's First Museum for Scuba Divers
iStock
iStock

At the first underwater museum in the U.S., you’ll find a motley crew of characters. There's an oversized skull, a deer, a pineapple, and a model of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau's scuba mask.

Seven sculptures in total are coming to the Underwater Museum of Art—UMA for short, pronounced like the actress—which will make its debut off the coast of South Walton, Florida, in late June.

A skull sculpture
Underwater Museum of Art

Unlike most museums, visitors don't need to buy tickets. But they will need their own scuba or freediving gear, plus a boat to get to the diving spot, which is located less than a mile off the coast of Grayton Beach.

The sculptures lie at a depth of 60 feet in an area containing an artificial reef, which has grown over the years in an effort to encourage marine life. And statues certainly aren't the only thing to admire underwater—divers have a good chance of spotting turtles, snappers, groupers, and all types of reef fish, according to Andy McAlexander, president of the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA), which founded the museum in collaboration with the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA).

"It's the Gulf of Mexico. Anything could swim by you," McAlexander says.

A turtle reef
A turtle reef in the South Walton Artificial Reef
Underwater Museum of Art

McAlexander played a key role in helping UMA get off the ground, and organizers plan to continue expanding their underwater art collection. "We plan on doing it every year, so we'll select between five and seven [artworks] a year from now on," he tells Mental Floss.

When the CAA put out the call for artists who wanted to submit (and submerge) their artwork, they received about 20 entries. Above all else, the sculptures had to be environmentally-friendly and toxin-free, so materials were limited to steel, concrete, and aluminum. That was no problem for artist Rachel Herring, whose father owns a metal fabricating shop. She had taken a few welding lessons from him in the past and put that knowledge to use to construct a large, metal pineapple.

A pineapple sculpture
Underwater Museum of Art

"The pineapple is the symbol of friendship and welcoming, and what better way to welcome wildlife and tourists alike to the Underwater Museum of Art?" Herring writes on her website. "It is intentionally hollow to shelter small fish and wildlife. From above, the leaves splay out to create the view of a sun from above, which is the symbol of life."

Another sculpture mimicking Aqua Lung, a scuba mask invented in the '40s by Cousteau and Émile Gagnan, was created with help from local school students.

The museum may be the first permanent underwater sculpture exhibit in the U.S., but there are other places to see submerged art. In Key Largo, Florida, an underwater sculpture dubbed "Christ of the Abyss" depicts Jesus with outstretched arms.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios