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Reimagine, if You Will


Whether you see Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) as a homage to solitude or as a paean for a lost era of root beer floats, the odds are good that you see it often. The recent Netflix series The Sandman set an entire episode in a Nighthawks-style diner. Consider the selections below, then discuss with your team: what is the modern equivalent of the experience and feeling conveyed in the painting?

Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967) was an American realist painter and printmaker. He is one of America's most renowned artists and known for his skill in capturing American life and landscapes through his art. His career benefited immensely from his marriage to fellow-artist Josephine Nivison, who contributed much to his work, both as a live-model, and as a creative partner. About Nighthawks Edward Hopper recollected, “unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.” In an all-night diner, three customers sit at the counter opposite a server,

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each appear to be lost in thought and disengaged from one another. The composition is tightly organized and spare in details: there is no entrance to the establishment, no debris on the streets. Through harmonious geometric forms and the glow of the diner’s electric lighting, Hopper created a serene, beautiful, yet enigmatic scene. Although inspired by a restaurant Hopper had seen on Greenwich Avenue in New York, the painting is not a realistic transcription of an actual place. As viewers, we are left to wonder about the figures, their relationships, and this imagined world. It describes a new kind of hell in America- loneliness, anxiety. Within months of its completion, it was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago on 13 May 1942, for only $3,000.

The Sandman is a comic book written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. The titular main character of The Sandman is Dream, also known as Morpheus and other names, who is one of the seven Endless. Critically acclaimed, The Sandman was among the first graphic novels to appear on The New York Times Best Seller list. Norman Mailer described the series as "a comic strip for intellectuals". The series has exerted considerable influence over the fantasy genre and graphic novel medium since its publication and is often regarded as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, attracting many older and female readers who have never read comic books. It has since inspired a popular Netflix series.


The Sandman's gory and disturbing diner scene had a set meticulously built by the show's production designer to feel like a "slice of Americana." Netflix's The Sandman episode five, "24/7," features a terrifying finale as people at a diner massacre themselves, and the showrunners paid special attention to the setting of the gory climax.

Jon Gary Steele, the production designer on the show, said that reconstructing the diner was great fun, and images of iconic eateries in books, magazines and paintings were also studied. The famous 1942 Edward Hopper painting "Nighthawks" was also a point of inspiration. "But I didn’t want to make it too like that, because that’s been done in many commercials," Steele said. "I wanted it to feel like a slice of Americana, to be truthful and nostalgic. The colors, I wanted it to be deep and dark colors. The tile was weird, lime-greenish. Then, the glass, all the glass dividers. We were trying to make it dark, but beautiful. 

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Banksy is at it again! He makes a famous painting more famous, but nobody knows who he is. He is the opposite of modern celebrity culture where everyone is famous immediately and then immediately forgotten. A humorous reference to Edward Hopper’s famous painting The Nighthawks, this oil on canvas by Banksy is indeed set in the deserted urban bar or cafeteria known from Hopper’s image in the artist’s social realist style.  Much like Hopper, Banksy is 

recognized as an artist who does not shy from depicting the reality of our modern societies. In his version of Nighthawks, the artist depicts a threatening chubby man only wearing Union Jack underwear, pointing angrily at the cracked window of Hopper’s dinner. Two plastic chairs are scattered on the sidewalk around him, and it appears that he likely threw them in an attempt to break the window. This figure potentially represents the angry British working class demanding a seat at the elite’s table.

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Austrian painter called Gottfried Helnwein shows a scene late at night in a diner in the USA during the 1950s. Outside, the street is dark and empty. Inside, there are three people sitting at the counter, two men and a woman, and there’s a barman standing behind the counter. The couple on the right are smartly dressed and the woman is laughing, but the man sitting next to her looks worried and unhappy. The barman is smiling, but the atmosphere of the painting is bleak and

lonely. The four people in the painting are all famous American stars from the 20th century. The barman is the singer Elvis Presley – ‘the king of rock ’n’ roll’. The man on the left is the actor James Dean. The woman is the film star Marilyn Monroe, and the man in the blue suit is the actor Humphrey Bogart. All the actors are beloved screen icons who have died tragically and young except for Humphrey Bogart.

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Dishwasher turned famous painter! Born Charles Rogers Grooms on June 7, 1937, Red Grooms is an American multimedia artist best known for his colorful pop-art constructions depicting frenetic scenes of modern urban life. Grooms was given the nickname "Red" by Dominic Falcone (of Provincetown's Sun Gallery) when he was starting out as a dishwasher at a restaurant. 

In a pencil satire, "Nighthawks Revisited," Red Grooms puts the details back -- trash cans, pedestrians, a car at the curb. He makes the scene real, which ends the hellscape and removes that Hopper feeling of troubled resignation. It is much more hectic scene: there are numerous pedestrians stalking the streets outside, a car noisily makes its way across the road, a cat forages its way through the trash cans outside, and most notably, the diner has one extra patron — a fat, balding man who appears to be holding a cigarette in one of his hands. Purposely painted so, it betrays the calmness of the original to depict a more realistic scenario.


Jean Henri Gaston Giraud  (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) was a French artist, cartoonist and writer who is renown in the world of comics and art/animation. London’s Illustration Art Gallery is offering a limited edition print of Moebius‘ unique take on Edward Hopper‘s iconic painting “Nighthawks“. Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) created his version in 1993, for a mixed exhibition paying tribute to Edward Hopper. This brilliant re-interpretation of Nighthawks strikes the perfect balance between reality and fantasy in classic Moebius style.

Just a few years before Hopper forever cemented the American diner in the popular imagination, Yuri Pimenov was one of many artists conscripted to celebrate the achievements of the Soviet Union. In New Moscow (1935), he depicts a city being whisked toward modernity—its streets and its society reimagined and reconstructed side by side. Consider instances of public spaces being repurposed in this way, then discuss with your team: what approach do you think Pimenov would take toward painting your city?

The Tretyakov Gallery is holding the first solo exhibition of works by Yuri Pimenov (1903-1977), a retrospective that presents the legacy of one of the most significant Soviet artists of the 20th century. He is best known for his painting “New Moscow” which became a symbol of so-called “Stalinist glamor.” His depiction of a woman sitting with her back to viewers behind the wheel of a Soviet convertible as she drives along Okhotny Ryad close to the Bolshoi Theater is constantly reprinted as an illustration of life in the USSR in the 1930s.  This luminous and poetic image of the capital was created in the uneasy year of 1937 as Stalin’s “Great Terror” was at its height and the leader 

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was pushing ahead with his fundamental reconstruction of Moscow. In Pimenov’s work we see a fabulous city veiled in a golden haze, viewed from an unusual perspective – we are sitting in the back seat of a convertible. The car is driven by a young woman in a beautiful floaty dress. It’s symbolic how Pimenov draws a parallel between her and newly reconstructed capital: the renewal of the city is the logical follow-up to the renewal of the society. These two themes – a modern city and a modern woman – were present in Pimenov’s late artworks as well. He was a complex artist caught between politics and culture, who wanted to provide hope in a bleak time. Rediscovering the Complex Legacy of Artist Yuri Pimenov - The Moscow Times

A lot of times people believe that rebuilding the city means the same as social development. Buildings can be erected, squares and be paved quickly, but thinking and practices take often a generation to overcome. I believe that while some buildings may become newer, roads wider, and subways built, a lot more (education, public awareness programs, advocacy for minorities) must happen before the community advances towards prosperity and equality. 

Consider this criticism of the reinvention of the Chilean comic book character Condorito for a global audience. Discuss with your team: where, if anywhere, did they go wrong—and is translating such popular works from one culture into versions for audiences elsewhere doomed to fail?

This is really a cool and intereseting story. Have you heard of Condorito? Well, he is an international icon and comic book hero/protagonist who happens to be a condor and he ends each scene with the caption "Plop!" Most of all, he is 100% authentic Chilean, just like Daniel! 

Unlike most cartoon characters, Condorito is not always 


the good guy with a heart of gold. He is lazy, charming, irresponsible and a cad. He was born in 1949 in Chile as a specific response to Walt Disney's 1942 entrance into Latin America - a cute babyish airplane named Pedro. Well, the Chile homemade hero is adult with adult jokes and problems. Incredibly, he became super popular and in 1983, the IP was purchased by Televisa, which took it global. In 2018, there is even a Condorito movie launched in the US, but some fans are not happy about this new Americanized Condorito.  That the film was bizarrely in 3-D, was voiced by a Mexican actor, produced by a Peruvian film company, written by an Argentine, and directed by a Brit shows just how international the property has become. The main flaw - it wasn't Chilean anymore. 

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In 1931, the US Department of State commissioned Disney to produce a movie that could increase America goodwill in South America and intervene on some of the Nazi ties. That resulted in Saludos Amigos, a cartoon about a mail plane named Pedro. René Ríos Boettiger, an illustrator for the Topaz, a Chilean political magazine created Condorito because he didn't want "gringos" to define his country.  Condorito is a  mischievous cartoon condor down on his luck facing economic hardship with a well-proportioned fiancé named Yayita living in Pelotillehue, a tough and rough town.

Boettiger created a world that was 100% local with many puns, jokes, and sarcasm that the fans loved, such as a peeing dog named Washington and his nemisis a Saco de Ploemo (literally sack of lead) a jock with blinding teeth, great hair and too proud of himself.  The new film lacks all of that flavor and cultural nuance. The animation is too perfect and the crude, yet smart jokes are all gone. Therefore, it doesn't work. It is useless to change the fans' mind about Condorito. "Disciplining Condorito is a little like disciplining Bugs Bunny; it just doesn't fit the franchise. The movie painlessly smooths so much that's rough in the original that it bears hardly any relation to its origin."

The classic film Metropolis (1927) was restored to its original length in 2010 through a series of lucky discoveries. The restored version revealed subplots and characterizations that were missing in earlier surviving copies—but some scenes were still missing. Discuss with your team: should these scenes be replaced by newly filmed footage, or perhaps by AI recreations of that they might have contained? Or should incomplete old works be left alone and rebroadcast exactly as they are?

For fans and scholars of the silent-film era, the search for a copy of the original version of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, an expressionist science-fiction, has become a sort of holy grail. One of the most celebrated movies in cinema history, which had influenced iconic works such as "Bladerunner" and "Star Wars", “Metropolis” had not been viewed at its full length - roughly two and a half hours - since shortly after its premiere in Berlin in 1927, when it was withdrawn from circulation and about an hour of its footage was amputated and presumed destroyed. In 2010, the Friday Film Forum in Manhattan began showing what was being billed as “The Complete Metropolis,” with a DVD scheduled to follow later this year, after screenings in theaters around the country. So, an 80-year quest spanning three continents seems finally to be over, thanks in large part to the curiosity and perseverance of one man, an Argentine film archivist named Fernando Peña. 

Made in Germany during the Weimar period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city master, and Maria, a saintly figure to the workers, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes in their city and bring the workers together with Joh Fredersen, the city master. The film's message is encompassed in the final inter-title: "The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart".

Made at a time of hyperinflation in Germany in 1920s, “Metropolis” offered a grandiose version nearly bankrupted UFA, the studio that commissioned it. After lukewarm reviews and initial box office results in Europe, Paramount Pictures, the American partner brought in toward the end of the shoot, took control of the film and made drastic excisions, arguing that Lang’s cut was too complicated and unwieldy for American audiences to understand.

Since the 1930s, the full-length version of “Metropolis” had been part of a large private archive assembled by a prominent Argentine film critic, Manuel Peña Rodríguez. After this death in the 1970s, he donated it, and it ended up in the Museo del Cine in 1992. Finally Fernando Peña found it with the help of Paula Félix-Didier, head of Museo de Cine.  The fact that it exists is pure

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luck. Argentine film distributor, Adolfo Wilson, happened to be in Berlin when the film had its premiere, liked what he saw so much that he immediately purchased rights, and returned to Argentina with the reels in his luggage.

With modern tech, they have restored the film as much as possible and replaced some unusable parts with intertitles. What they discovered included a new 7 minute subplot - the “Thin Man,” (upper right) who in the standard version appears to be a glorified butler to the city’s all-powerful founder, turns out instead to be a much more sinister figure, a combination of spy and detective. "The cumulative result is a version of “Metropolis” whose tone and focus have been changed. “It’s no longer a science-fiction film,” said Martin Koerber, a German film archivist and historian who supervised the latest restoration and the earlier one in 2001. “The balance of the story has been given back. It’s now a film that encompasses many genres, an epic about conflicts that are ages old." 

Famous film critic Robert Ebert gives his review of the new cleaned up and restored verson of the Metropolis. "Lang created one of the unforgettable original places in the cinema. The missing footage restored in this version comes to about 30 minutes, bringing the total running time to about 150 minutes.


“Metropolis” fixed for countless later films the image of a futuristic city as a hell of material progress and human despair. From this film, in various ways, descended not only “Dark City” but “Blade Runner,” “The Fifth Element,” “Alphaville,” “Escape From L.A.,” “Gattaca” and Batman's 


Gotham City. The laboratory of its evil genius, Rotwang, created the visual look of mad scientists for decades to come, especially after it was so closely mirrored in “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935). The device of the “false Maria,” the robot who looks like a human being, inspired the Replicants of “Blade Runner.” Even Rotwang's artificial hand was given homage in “Dr. Strangelove.”


“Metropolis” does what many great films do, creating a time, place and characters so striking that they become part of our arsenal of images for imagining the world. Lang filmed for nearly a year, driven by obsession, often cruel to his colleagues, a perfectionist madman, and the result is one of those films without which many others cannot be fully appreciated.

The Montagues and Capulets would probably agree on the beauty of this Romeo and Juliet soundtrack—one that was reputably lost and recreated. Many works have similarly been reimagined and rebuilt once the original was no longer accessible; thus, the version of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a recreation made nearly half a century later, in 1964. (The original may also not have been by Marcel Duchamp.) Consider the other versions of the same work below, then discuss with your team: if were to locate the lost original version of Fountain, would it change the value of the 1964 recreation and of the variations listed below?

Producer James Fitzpatrick and conductor Nic Raine have undertaken a major job of restoration in preparing their new recording of Nino Rota's score for the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film adaptation of "Romeo & Juliet". Apparently, Rota's original manuscript is long lost, and they were forced to reconstruct the score by ear, listening to the soundtrack of the film. The result is a much more complete rendering of the memorable music than was heard on the million-selling Capitol Records soundtrack album. Of course, the chief attraction remains the "Love Theme" (aka "A Time for Us"), which is repeated several times, but one is also impressed by the elements of Renaissance period music that are included and by the overall beauty of the work. The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is actually somewhat larger than the group Rota used to perform the film's music, but the score's delicacy is not lost, and this remains one of the more poignant and moving collections of music ever written for a Shakespeare production, as well as a gem in Rota's repertoire. Here is a link to hear the song.

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This is the man responsible for some of film's most iconic romantic nostalgic and haunting melodies. Giovanni Rota Rinaldi (3 December 1911–10 April 1979), is better known as Nino Rota, Italian composer, pianist, conductor and academic who is best known for his film scores, notably for the films of Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti. He also composed the music for two of Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare screen adaptations, and for the first two installments of Francis Ford Coppola's The  Godfather trilogy, earning the Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Godfather Part II (1974).


2017 was the 100th anniversary of the first exhibition of Duchamp's most scandalous "readymade" sculpture. Fountain is a readymade sculpture by Marcel Duchamp in 1917, consisting of a porcelain urinal signed "R. Mutt" (sounds like poverty in German). In April 1917, an ordinary piece of plumbing chosen by Duchamp was submitted for an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, the inaugural exhibition by the Society to be staged at the Grand Central Palace in New York. When explaining the purpose of his readymade sculpture, Duchamp stated they are "everyday objects raised to the dignity of a work of art by the artist's act of choice."  The thing vanished, but conceptual art was born. In 2004 it was voted the most influential modern artwork of all time. The original has been lost. The work is

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Evidence suggests the famous urinal Fountain, attributed to Marcel Duchamp, was actually created by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Why haven’t we heard of her, asks Siri Hustvedt, writer of book Memories of the Future. History has ben against women as creators of brilliant work. "Why did it take centuries for art historians to recognise the work of Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi as hers, not her father’s, even those that were signed by her?"


But what if the person behind the urinal was not Duchamp, but the German-born poet and artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927)? Supposedly, it is not that Duchamp “allegedly stole the concept for his urinal” from Von Freytag-Loringhoven, but rather that she was the one who found the object, inscribed it with the name R Mutt. A1917 letter Duchamp wrote to his sister, Susanne, Duchamp said, “One of my female friends who had adopted the masculine pseudonym Richard Mutt sent me a porcelain urinal as a sculpture.” In 1935 André Breton attributed the urinal to Duchamp, but it wasn’t until 1950, long after the baroness had died and four years after Stieglitz’s death, that Duchamp began to take credit for the piece and authorise replicas.

Duchamp said he had purchased the urinal from JL Mott Ironworks Company, adapting Mutt from Mott, but the company did not manufacture the model in the photograph, so his story cannot be true. There are other personal connections that connect the Baroness to the Fountain. But, after so many decades of fame and the reputation, top art institutes are not budging or changing their minds. 

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Chicago artist Bidlo is an appropriation artist, that is to say, he intentionally replicates the work of other artists (sometimes introducing variations, sometimes not). In all cases, the work he creates is considered an integral part of his own artistic production, and under no circumstances (especially commercial) does he wish for it be confused with the source work from which it is appropriated. It is for this reason that he usually signs work with his handprint, and titles it as NOT the work of the artist whose work is being appropriated: NOT Brancusi, NOT Picasso, NOT Léger, or, in the case of the present exhibition, NOT Duchamp.

The Fountain is a porcelain urinal that Bidlo handcrafted, smashed, reassembled, and then cast into solid bronze (each produced in an edition of eight signed and numbered examples, the same number—not coincidentally—in which Duchamp issued replicas of his ready mades in 1964). The broken pieces also correlates to a story about William Glackens, the society’s president, smashing the artwork and not permitting it to be exhibited. 


Rachel Lachowicz is known for her witty take on the male-dominated world of modernism and is considered a feminist, a minimalist, post-modernist, and a conceptualist.  Her work is a study of recontextualizing canonical works of art by famous male artists using unorthodox materials such as eye shadow, face powder, and lipstick for her sculptures.  In Untitled (Lipstick Urinals), Lachowicz explores social constructions of gender by juxtaposing the feminine associations of color and lipstick with the appropriation of Marcel Duchamp’s overtly 

masculine and seminal readymade, Fountain (1917). Here Lachowicz casts three miniature urinals created from bright red lipstick. The result is a complex riddle of femininity versus masculinity mixed with a satirical yet reverential salute to the history of art.

Those who find traditional history museums a stuffy procession of rusty spoons and dusty dioramas may want to explore an open-air alternative: “living history museums” where one can time travel on the cheap. Consider the Spanish Village in Barcelona, where travelers can inspect 49,000 square meters of historical buildings and tilt at rusty slides with Don Quixote. At Heritage Park in Calgary, Banff-bound hikers can stop to pose for photos (and eat 19th century ice cream) with locals dressed up as Canadians from the days of fur trading and American invaders. For those on their way to the Dalian Global Round, the Millennium City Park in Kaifeng offers a hundred acres of life in the Northern Song Dynasty. If you drink coffee (which we do not endorse!) you might be drawn to the Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Hawaii. Discuss with your team: do such museums offer valuable lessons, or do they actively harm our appreciation of culture and history?

Dioramas are 3D displays in museums with artifacts in the foreground with a realistic background - like a time capsule that transports visitors into a scene in history. Instead of a boring glass display with plain background, the intention of a diorama is to build a replica of a specific system and to do it with such precision they become time capsules.

Aaron Delehanty is a modern artist who works on dioramas at the Field Museum, Chicago. He first became interested in

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making dioramas in elementary school when he made a depiction of 5 New York Native American Tribes. The Field Museum is famous for its detailed dioramas, which became popular in the late 19th century, after the concept was created by Carl Akeley. Akeley worked in the Milwaukee Field Museum and was termed the founder of dioramas.


Before the late 19th century, taxidermized animals were put into glass cases that lined museum walls, which was boring. Akeley devised a better way to immerse the audience. For example, his first diorama shows five muskrats, which also included their den, reeds, logs, and sediment.

The concept of dioramas interestingly derived from a passion for conservation. They used taxidermized species in the dioramas to raise awareness for the endangered animals. President Theodore Roosevelt was known for supporting dioramas.  Case study of the article featured Akeley

creating a new diorama for 4 striped hyenas, taxidermized by Akeley in the 1890s which had been displayed in bare glass cases.  In 2015, a crowdfunding project by Emily Graslie raised $155,165 for the creation of a diorama for the hyenas.


Additionally, Delehanty helped construct a Field Museum diorama showcasing the Hemudu, a Chinese civilization from 5500-3300 BC near the Yangtze River. Hemudu learned to build homes on stilts.  Delehanty placed puddles randomly throughout the village and had people interacting with them. If you look at the backdrop, there’s fog in the air. He also built the homes with floorboards made of popsicle sticks, speckling them with red paint to simulate blood stains because people usually went barefoot.

Poble Espanyol (or Spanish Village), is an open museum located in Barcelona, Spain. It was designed by architect Puig I Cadafalch. A total of 117 buildings from various regions of the country were recreated in Poble Espanyol for the World Fair 1929, after visiting more than 1600 Spanish towns. It was actually supposed to be demolished after the World Fair, but its popularity with the residents allowed it to stay open as a real-life park. Although during the reign of Spanish dictator 


 Francisco Franco, Poble Espanyol began to decline, but was repaired in the 1990s. In Poble Espanyol, you can see all of Spain in one day. Additionally, it features new multimedia experiences such as a party room. Poble Espanyol also features famous Spanish artists such as Picasso, Dali through the Fran Duarel Museum. One key attraction of real-life historical parks is visitors can see craftsmen in action and buy souvenirs and artworks.  

Heritage Park is located in Calgary, Canada, and was created in 1905. Hikers can pose for photos and eat 19th century ice cream. The employees and volunteers of Heritage Park are dressed in character and always have a smile on their faces eager to talk and educate. The park is populated with heritage buildings from around Alberta and walking through the village gives you a true essence of the past. With the sound of the steam engine in the background and horse carts being pulled on the streets, you could as well be in 1905! According to the article's author, an Erdu mom, real-live historical parks are a great way to explore history in the post-covid era. 

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Millenium City Park is located in Kaifeng, Henan. It is a Chinese historical park which takes you to North Song Dynasty, inspired by Zhang Zeduan's painting of that dynamic era. Visitors can walk around and see the different entertainment that Millenium City Park provides, including performances and fireworks. You pay for food via Wechat, a Chinese social media platform and messaging app. Would you consider this an educational experience or just plain entertainment? 

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Stroll through this award-winning, historic farm that tells the story of Kona’s coffee pioneers during the early 20th century in Hawaii. A self-guided experience, visitors  walk among the coffee trees, meet a “Kona Nightingale”, or watch how farmers used the kuriba and hoshidana to mill and dry their world-famous coffee. Visit the original 1920’s farmhouse to find the homemaker starting the fire to cook rice or making musubi for the farmer’s lunch.

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The Kona Historical Society is a community-based, nonprofit organization that was founded in 1976 to collect, preserve and share the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii. The Kona Coffee Living History Farm opened to the public in November 1999. Since then, the Kona Coffee Living History Farm has been placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, won numerous prestigious awards and has been designated as a “Partner Place” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

The most famous of these museums can also be the most controversial. Consider Plimoth Patuxet (formerly Plymouth Plantation) in Massachusetts, where visitors can take selfies with scurvy-free Pilgrims. The museum has been criticized for overlooking the indigenous peoples decimated by those same Pilgrims. Thus, the museum’s new name, and a new Native American settlement for tourists to explore—except it turns out the tribe members staffing it are not descendants of the tribe the Pilgrims first encountered. Discuss with your team: would it be better if they were—or would this be a different form of exploitation? Would it ever be okay for someone not of tribal descent to staff the Native American area of the museum? What if they weren't technically tribe members but identified with the tribe enough to adopt its practices and cherish its customs? Research the Howick Historical Village in Auckland and discuss with your team: how does its approach compare to that of Plimoth Patuxet?

Plimoth Patuxet, or Plimoth Plantation (original name which was changed becuase it references slavery), is a live museum opened in 1947 which features early settlers' life in 1627 after the Mayflower’s landing in Plymouth Massachusetts.  It features numerous buildings including barns, thatched roof houses, mills, original breed of livestock, and a 1:1 reproduction of the ship called the Mayflower II. It also features a Wampanoag homesite. Plimoth Patuxet also employs actors dressed in period clothing, speaking in accents to guide the visitors.

Members of the state's Wampanoag community and their supporters say Plimoth Patuxet Museums has not lived up to its promise of creating a "bi-cultural museum" that equally tells the story of the European and Indigenous peoples that lived there.  The live museum is criticized for not mentioning the diseases such as smallpox that the Europeans brought with them to the new world. In fact, more than 90% of all natives died due to these diseases. Tisquantum, or Squanto, was a survivor of such diseases, and helped the pilgrims survive their first winter. It also received negative criticism from indigenous activists for not promoting bi-cultural history as promised. In particular, the indigenous actors were not actually from the local tribes, the Wampanoag.


Furthermore, the "wetu" (traditional huts) were not repaired and people were not in costumes, rather in plain navy-blue polos and khakis. The concerns come just two years after the museum changed its name from Plimoth Plantation to Plimoth Patuxet as part of a yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing. 

Should non-Wampanoags be allowed to work there to promote the culture?  Does having real descendants make it more authentic?


Welcome to Auckland’s Heritage Museum. Experience Tāmaki Makaurau's history and see how the early residents lived in the 1800s.  Explore heritage buildings filled with authentic furniture and textiles and see how people lived in early Auckland. Howick Historical Village is a living history museum on 7 acres of grounds and heritage gardens. The museum depicts a settlement in the period from 1840 to 1880 and offers visitors an immersive historical experience. Students can learn in an authentic 1800s classroom.

The East Auckland suburbs of Pakuranga and Howick developed slowly on land formerly occupied by Ngāi Tai. European settlement began in 1847 when three companies of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles were assigned to a defence post. They were retired soldiers enlisted to serve for seven years in exchange for a cottage and an acre of land. Howick was the largest of the Fencible settlements, with 804 people in three companies in 1848. Fencible comes from the word “defencible” meaning “capable of defence”. The Fencibles had served in the wars of Britain in the 1830s and 1840s. To emigrate to NZ under the Fencible scheme, retired soldiers were required to be under 48 years of age and of ‘good character and industrious habits.’.

To make the experience more realistic, some of these museums have diligently bred versions of animals that look more like they would have in the past: wilder pigs, gamier hens, dogs that are less dalmatian and more direwolf. Discuss with your team: is it okay to breed animals to serve as props in these kinds of exhibits? Would it make a difference if they were eventually eaten or taken home as pets?

There are definitely conservationists who are diligently preserving species from the past. These include farmers who want to preserve their heritage and history, or to sell at a higher price to foodies and specialty restaurants. A big concern is genetic diversity for domesticated animal. Check out the conservancy's website for details about their projects. 

The Livestock Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization. Our mission is to protect endangered livestock and poultry breeds from extinction. Included in our mission are over 150 breeds of donkeys, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys. In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that we lose an average of 2 domestic animal breeds each week. In the past fifteen years alone, the FAO has identified the extinction of 300 out of 6,000 breeds worldwide, with another 1,350 in danger of extinction. The Livestock Conservancy is the leading organization working to stop the extinction of these breeds in the United States – ensuring the future of our agricultural food system.

Like living history museums but more episodic are history festivals in which communities annually celebrate their pasts. For instance, an annual Spanish Days Festival in the California city of Santa Barbara looks back at its Mexican heritage. Review the additional examples below, then discuss with your team: are such festivals good ways to teach local community members about the past?

Celebrating its 100th year, Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara is a beloved Santa Barbara tradition dedicated to honoring and preserving the city’s history, spirit, culture, heritage and traditions. The annual five-day festival, called “Fiesta” by locals, takes place at the beginning of each August. The 5-day party opens with La Fiesta Pequeña — the little festival — on the steps of the Old Mission Santa Barbara, with traditional flamenco and folklorico dance performances.  It takes place in many historical locations with live music, performances and events held in historic venues, parks and white-washed paseos including Old Mission Santa Barbara, the 

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famous Sunken Gardens of the beautiful Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Casa De La Guerra and De La Guerra Plaza. Between parades (including one of the world’s largest equestrian parades), carnivals, rodeos - there is a lot to do and learn. As many people in California are of Mexican ancestry, it is a great way to celebrate their past. 

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Timket is one of the most spectacular religious festivals in the world. It is also unique to Ethiopia, where the orthodox Christian festival of Epiphany is celebrated on 19 January, or 20 January during leap years. Timkat, which translates as ‘baptism’, celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Ethiopians embrace this annually with a mass baptism at different waterfronts or sacred pools around the country, the top spots being Lalibela, Gondar, and Addis Ababa.

Most Ethiopians wear the traditional white clothes during the festival, draped with a traditional netela, or shawl, for the ceremony, and gather at the waterfront at dawn to watch the

the water be blessed by the priest, be sprinkled with it and then, in some cases, submerge themselves in it. It is also a rite of passage for young Ethiopian men who are choosing the path of priesthood.

The Ark of the Covenant, which plays a central role during Timkat, is a golden wooden chest which contains two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments (relics). In Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, churches treasure replicas of this sacred artefact as well as those of the tablets, which are called tabots. They are always covered in an ornate fabric, though, because they are considered too sacred to be even gazed upon by mere mortals.

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Naadam is a national festival celebrated every year from 11 to 13 July across Mongolia that focuses on three traditional games: horseracing, wrestling and archery. Mongolian Naadam is inseparably connected to the nomadic civilization of the Mongols, who have long practiced pastoralism on Central Asia’s vast steppe. Oral traditions, performing arts, national cuisine, craftsmanship, and cultural forms, such as long song, Khöömei overtone singing, Bie biyelgee dance and Morin khuur fiddle also feature prominently during Naadam. Mongolians follow special rituals and practices during the festival, such as wearing unique costumes and using distinctive tools and sporting items. Festival participants revere the sportsmen, sportswomen, and children who compete, and winners are rewarded titles for their achievements. Ritual praise songs and poems are dedicated to the contestants in the events. Everyone is allowed and encouraged to participate in Naadam, thus nurturing community involvement and togetherness. The rituals and customs of Naadam also accentuate respect for nature and the environment.


Starting in 2021, the Ravenna Railroad Festival celebrates the City of Ravenna’s heritage by giving back to the industry that brought our small town to life. To honor the railroaders themselves we host a reunion of past and present railroad employees as well as railroad exhibits. Families and individuals will have the opportunity to ride behind a 90-year-old steam locomotive, the former Lehigh Valley Coal Company No. 126. The 0-6-0ST saddle tank locomotive was built by Vulcan Iron Works for the Lehigh Valley Coal Company and was put into service in May 1931.  There are lots of events for the entire family to enjoy from parades, bands to lots of food, or course. 

Festivals are often scheduled around holidays, but those holidays can change over time. Modern societies have even reimagined some of them with elements from other cultures—for instance, Mid-Autumn Festivals that feature char-grillers, the mandate for chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and very expensive sixteenth birthday parties. Make a list of other holidays that have evolved in recent years, then discuss with your team: what standard should governments use to decide what holidays will be “official” ones—and which ones should be declassified over time?

The practice of barbecuing during Mid-Autumn Festival actually dates back no more than three decades, when two of Taiwan’s largest soy sauce manufacturers, Wan Ja Shan Food and Kimlan Food, jousted with each other in an advertising war to sell their respective barbecue sauce brands. In 1986, Wajashan Food released a television commercial for its Wan Ja Shan Barbecue Sauce in the run-up to the Mid-Autumn Festival. It included the slogan: “When one household grills on the barbecue, ten thousand families smell the aroma.” The commercial featured sizzling-hot celebrity of the moment, Chang Yung-yung, as the condiment’s brand ambassador, helping ignite the craze for Mid-Autumn Festival barbecuing. Three years later Kimlan Food released its own television commercial as part of a saturation advertising campaign for its rival BBQ Sauce. The advertisement featured footage of food being liberally doused with barbecue sauce to an infectiously catchy jingle. Not to be outdone, Wajashan Food launched a counter-offensive, releasing an updated version of its original hit television commercial. Around the same


time, supermarkets began promotions for their BBQ selection. Soon, BBQ became Taiwan's favorite mid-autumn past time. Whether one views the modern barbecue craze as a positive evolution of the festival into a unique Taiwanese celebration, or an ancient festival hijacked by corporations and clever marketing, is a matter for debate. 

Valentine’s Day first appeared in Japan in 1936 when a Japanese-Russian chocolate company, Morozoff Ltd., ran a Valentine’s Day ad aimed at foreigners living in Tokyo. Later in 1953, the same company popularized the giving of heart-shaped chocolates, with many Japanese chocolate companies following suit. However, it was Isetan department store’s 1958 Valentine’s sale that truly integrated the holiday into Japanese culture. The Isetan store in Shinjuku is considered one of the most influential department stores in Japan, the first to showcase the latest trends and newest products. 

However, during one of the earliest campaigns, something got lost in translation, and one of the chocolate-company executives ended up telling the Japanese people that Valentine’s Day was an opportunity for women to express their appreciation for the men in their lives. In particular, for office ladies to give chocolate to their co-workers. Because of this, even to this day, it’s mostly women giving chocolates to men on February 14th.


Unlike in western countries, gifts such as cards, flowers, and dinner dates are uncommon, with most of the Japanese Valentine’s activity focusing on giving the right amount and quality of chocolate to each person. The emphasis on chocolate is so strong that Japanese chocolate companies make half (HALF!!!!) their annual sales during the one week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

The chocolate-giving experience has grown since the 1960s office-chocolate debacle into four main categories of chocolate gifts:

1) Giri-Chocolate (義理チョコ): This is the “Obligation Chocolate” that comes from the original Valentine’s Day campaign. Giri-Choco is the kind of chocolate you would give to people like bosses, coworkers, the security guy down the hall, etc. Even sadder is the “Cho-Giri-Chocolate” (Ultra-obligatory-chocolate), which is given to unpopular people you really don’t want to give chocolates to, but you don’t want them to feel left out either. 

2) Tomo-Chocolate (友チョコ): This straightforward category is called “Friends Chocolate.” These chocolates cost between ¥300 and ¥1000 ($2-$8) and are given to friends, male and female alike.

3) Honmei-Chocolate (本命チョコ): Honmei means “the favorite,” so this is the chocolate you’d give to your ~lover~ or the person you’d like to kokuhaku(告白), confess your love to. This is the chocolate gift most similar to a western Valentine’s Day present. 

 4) Lastly, there is Jibun-Chocolate (自分チョコ), or Self Chocolate. 

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Turning 15 for a young Latina is a big deal. The milestone is celebrated with a quinceañera — and many Latino families go all out. Similar to Jewish Bar mitzvah for boys and American sweet 16 for girls, for Latin descent girls in North America, it's so big that it has its own magazine and even expo.  “The quinceañera is a celebration that is symbolic of the transition of a girl from childhood to womanhood,” the director of Quinceañera magazine, Norma Capitananchi.  Latino families start party planning a year in advance and save up for the lavish event from the moment their daughters are born. When it comes to a quinceañera, the only rule is: spare no expense. At the expo, families can meet with vendors and decide how to spend their money for the most memorable event. For many families it is more than a birthday; ultimately, it is a status symbol and networking event. With these lavish events, are we still celebrating the individual and the traditional culture? Who actually benefits and what's the real motivation? Are we still preaching the right values or are we falling into a rat race that leads to unfulfillment? 

If you want a selfie with the Pope, you can queue up at the Vatican and then not get a selfie with the Pope, or you can pay $25 to visit the Dreamland Wax Museum in Boston. Discuss with your team: what makes wax museums different than traditional sculpture collections? Would they still be considered museums if they featured statues of past celebrities and historical figures slightly different from their real-life versions—for instance, an FDR who can walk—or of people who never really existed, like George Santos and Santa Claus?

The Dreamland Wax Museum, opened in Boston on July 31, 2017, contains an impressive collection of over 100 wax figures, including public figures like Donald Trump, Matt Damon, and Michael Jackson. Museum Vice President Michael Pelletz states that this museum is unique from others as it allows audiences to interact with the wax figures, with artists on-site to keep them in shape. As more and more wax museums are introduced, we begin to wonder why people prefer it more than traditional sculptures. Aesthetic appeal.


Wax figures are known for their intricate details, such as realistic textures of the skin and eyes, which traditional sculptures often cannot replicate. This attention to detail allows for a more lifelike and engaging experience for visitors at the Dreamland Wax Museum.

Museums should always be considered museums as long as the museum has labeled itself as a fictional museum, any creative modifications are allowed. This means that statues of Mother Teresa with wings or even George Santos (fraud politician!) could be included without question. Furthermore, the museum could even incorporate impressions of fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes or George Santos, adding an element of imagination and creativity to the exhibits. But, including FDR that could walk, I think the museum needs the consent of the family members as they might not agree with the message. Wax figures are supposed to look 'perfectly' realistic, but not misconstrue the reality. 

If you want a conversation with the Pope, you can skip the wax museum in favor of services such as Character.AI, which allows you to chat with historical figures—even dead ones. Should celebrities need to agree to have AI simulations of them carry on after their deaths—as William Shatner did in early 2024—or do they surrender that right the moment they enter the public eye? Review this service from the Chinese company Super Brain, which uses texts, audio recordings, and images of deceased loved ones to “resurrect” them as AI chatbots for $1400, then discuss with your team: would talking to the dead help those mourning them? Should people have the right to purchase access to them—or to sell access to simulations of themselves?

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The AI revolution has been taking over the internet over the past few months with ChatGPT being the most popular out of all the other bots. Along with this fad brings another AI named which gives us the ability to talk to anyone whether dead or alive. Crucially, according to its founder, former Google  researchers Daniel De Freitas and Noam Shazeer, Character.AI is simply intended to entertain, rather than inform you – per the website’s warning: “Everything characters say is made up!”

Yet the ability to talk to them brings the possibility of creating false information as nobody fully knows these celebrities. So, to eliminate false information it is best to ask for permission. Though even without permission, this can be easily avoided by simply not answering their questions. Conversing with dead characters are another issue, for we still don’t know every detail of their lives. Yet again this can be avoided just like the celebrity issue states above. 


Star Trek star William Shatner will turn 93, and the iconic actor is thinking about his legacy, including how it can carry on after he is gone. In a new interview with, William Shatner was asked how he would feel about a Star Trek production using an AI version of his James T. Kirk. The actor was open to the idea, under a specific condition.

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Shatner’s referring to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, where one of the major issues was getting actors control over the use of their likenesses in AI. Now in his tenth decade of life, Shatner appears to be thinking about his legacy. The new documentary William Shatner: You Can Call Me Bill released on his 93rd birthday, March 22, 2024. 

  • China firm uses video, audio, photos to create virtual versions of dead

  • Couple ‘talk’ to dead son who speaks back, get solace from ‘ghost bot’

This is sadly reminiscent of Steven Spielberg movie A.I. about a mourning mother who orders a robot just like her son, which explores the ethics of artificial intelligence.  Hangzhou Daily has reported that the use of AI services to “resurrect” the dead has gained popularity in China. People are spending between RMB 5,000 (US$700) and RMB 10,000 for “ghost bots”.


The founder of an AI firm, Super Brain, Zhang Zewei, said that the technology was able to create basic avatars that are able to mimic the thinking and speech patterns of the deceased. Since he set up the firm in May 2023 in Jiangsu province, eastern China, his team has helped thousands of families digitally revive their dearly departed from as little as 30 seconds of audiovisual material. Their main service called AI healing, clone voices to build a chatbox and the digital portrait provided a profile image to support an intelligent speech function, as well as a 3D digital human model. Families of the service said it helped them say goodbye and gave them comfort, but many also wonder if this could lead to reliance, and not moving on.


AI is powerful and has many functions, but it can never replace a person, nor can it create a new person. How should society judge or label originality or manipulated/re-generated content? That is a question for you scholars.

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