Wednesday, May 18, 2011

See a new side of Thomas Edison on June 4

Mark your calendars: June 4 is Edison Day! What's that, you ask? Thomas Edison National Historical Park opens the gates for a full day of special events and exploration, all totally free of charge. I'll be there along with a host of other volunteers, helping the staff share the story of the world's most prolific inventor.

Come on out and check on Edison's desk!
If you grew up in New Jersey, you no doubt visited the site on a grade school field trip, seeing Edison's library and the heavy machine shop where his muckers put together prototypes and the machines that were needed to manufacture the successful inventions. Now you can see and explore all three floors of the invention factory, including the world's first audio recording studio and the place where the motion picture camera was invented.

Besides the usual exhibits, Edison Day is a great chance to check out plenty of special events and presentations:

  • The heavy machine shop will be running periodically during the day, giving visitors a rare opportunity to see and hear what it was really like to work there during Edison's time. For as many times as I've been there, I've never seen them run, so I'm especially looking forward to that part of the day.
  • Musicians will be on hand to be record on wax cylinder, always a popular event at the park. It's pretty cool to listen to a contemporary performance and then hear it played back from the cylinder, sounding like something recorded during the early days of the 20th century.
  • The Edison archives will be displaying documents that trace what Edison and his team were up to in 1911 ... 100 years ago!
  • Glenmont, Edison's 13-acre estate just a mile or two from the labs, will be open for guided house tours, with the garage and greenhouse open, too. If you're interested in concrete buildings, you'll be interested to know that both the garage and potting shed represent Edison's experiments in casting cement structures.
  • An exhibit in the home's conservatory will track the many famous and obscure visitors who cross the threshold of the Queen Anne-style mansion. 
  • If you've ever wondered what might be in the basement of the house, come check out the home's new geothermal climate control system. It's a technology that Edison no doubt would have found totally fascinating. 

Finishing up the day, Glenmont will also host an evening ragtime concert with the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra at 6 p.m.

There's even more stuff on tap...stop on by and check it out!

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