Exhibition turns back the clock in Kingston

“(Re) Presenting a Half Century” transforms URI’s Fine Arts Gallery into post-World War II classroom KINGSTON, R.I. — October 13, 1998 — Now through December 13, visitors to the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston Campus may wonder just where they are, in Kingston or Quonset, and just what year it is. As part of a large-scale historical exhibition taking place at the URI Fine Arts Center Galleries, alumni, students, friends of the University, and history buffs will see items and even facilities that haven’t been seen in Kingston for well nigh 50 years. From the re-built Quonset Hut in front of the Fine Arts Center courtesy of Sea Bee Veterans of America, Inc. to the vintage materials presented from various archives, the exhibition entitled “(Re) Presenting a Half Century” has transformed the contemporary Main Gallery space into a post-World War II, “G.I. Bill” composite classroom and library setting. Curated by URI’s Fine Arts Center Gallery Director Judith Tolnick, the exhibition is a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of URI’s College of Arts and Sciences. The Main Gallery exhibition, which runs through Dec. 13, is complemented by the presentation of “The Late Forties in the USA: Recalling the Popular Culture Scene” that is presented through Nov. 29 in the Corridor Gallery. An opening reception will be held on Monday, Oct. 19 from 5–7:30 p.m. and guided tours will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 9–11 a.m. Free and open to the public, Main Gallery Hours are Tuesday–Friday, 12 noon–4 p.m. and 7:30 – 9:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1 – 4 p.m., Corridor Gallery is open daily, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. The exhibition features an imaginary classroom setting representing most of the academic disciplines which consolidated when Rhode Island State College’s “School of Science” became the “School of Arts and Sciences” in 1948-with the momentous authorization of the Bachelor of Arts degree. The library setting to be conjured by the exhibition is that of the former library, Green Hall, particularly its once genteel reading room which flourished as a centralized study and activity site in the academically turbulent late 1940s campus. “Visitors to the URI exhibition will encounter an important period of cultural passage in our own regional past,” said Tolnick. “The exhibition will stimulate many memories-and facilitate a new generation’s understanding-of higher education and its ambiance fifty years ago.” The time frame represented in the URI exhibition, 1948, was unique nationally. That year brought everything from the first computer by International Business Machines (IBM) to combine electronic computation with stored instructions to the first post-experimental television sets, tape recording systems, and Polaroid Camera. The year also brought the premier of the Tucker ’48 prototype Dream Car; the first Long Playing Record ( 33 1/3 rpm) from Columbia Records, pulication of “The Kinsey Report” Sexual Behavior in the Human Male; and the infectious disease fighter Penicillin for routine medical usage. The exhibit showcases a range of instructional materials, equipment and furniture still in the possession of University departments from the ca. 1948-1951 years such as vintage microscopes, film strip and film equipment, pull down charts and maps, and many rare and intriguing scientific devices on temporary loan from many current University departments. A series of text panels examine the significant forces that led to the 1948 approval of a Bachelor of Arts degree from the university, and which proved to be the penultimate step in securing University status. An illustrated booklet accompanies the exhibition. The exhibition also features a videotape program based upon oral histories of University alumni/ae and educators from the period 1948-51. Those interviewed are: Roswell S. Bosworth ’49, of Bristol who was managing editor, of the Beacon in 1948, and now is editor of East Bay Newspapers; William A. Curran ’48 an attorney and his wife Margaret Curran ’49 of Saunderstown, who was one of the University’s first B.A. degree recipients; Professor Emeritus William Ferrante, of Saunderstown, who earned his B.S., Mechanical Engineering in 1949 from URI and began teaching at URI in 1956; Roger Lavallee ’48 of Cumberland, Science & Liberal Studies; Professor Emeritus Robert Lepper, of Kingston, former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and botany professor; History Professor Emeritus William D. Metz, of Kingston; English Professor Emerita Nancy Potter, LHD ’67 of West Kingston, who currently serves on College’s Advisory Council; and Edward Philip Smith of Providence, who was 1948 Debate Team head. The exhibition was generously supported by the Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences. x-x-x For further information contact: Jhodi Redlich, 874-2116