January 7, 2014

The American Treasure Tour is a great place to see fascinating mechanical masterpieces from the last one hundred years or so (although, to be fair, there is at least one item on display dating to the 1820s).  It takes one visit to the ATT to see the range of the collection, but countless visits to see everything.  But that's okay, since we love it when people come to see us over and over.

One thing that often gets lost in the shuffle is the hundreds of celebrity photographs hanging on the walls in the Music Room, ranging from the silent era to the modern cinema.  Of course, the cinema would have never happened without the development of the technology necessary to see motion pictures.  Thomas Edison is, of course, accredited with making the first movies, but it was one of the employees of his invention factory who came up with the workings of the Kinetoscope, as the first movies were called.  His name was William Kennedy Dickson, a Frenchman who moved to the United States as a child.  He was Edison's official photographer when he was assigned to create the movies, which he did using celluloid film.  His decision to make the film 35mm proved substantial, since this became the standard that has never been abandoned.  

Of course, Dickson's motion pictures did nothing more than to create the illusion of movement.  By showing a series of still images in rapid sequence, the human eye translated it into smooth sequences.  Way to go, Dickson!  And it all happened on January 7th, 1894.

QUESTION:  Where did Dickson's invention first get presented to the public?

A)  The United States Capitol Building

B)  The Brooklyn Institute of Arts & Sciences

C)  Cooper Union, Manhattan

D)  Bill's Burgers, Hoboken, NJ

Answer Below

Holy Birthday, Batman!  Today we celebrate the birthday of Alan Napier.  Born in England in 1903, Alan William Napier-Clavering established himself on the London stage as a young man, only moving to New York in 1940.  At 6 feet 4-1/2 inches tall, Napier was a large presence, which worked both for and against him as he went from stage to cinema to television in little-known roles.  But he will forever be remembered by fans of the popular 1960's superhero show Batman as trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth, protecting Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, also known as Batman and Robin.

QUOTE:  I used to think I was actually Batman.  - Justin Timberlake

Answer:  The Brooklyn Institute of Arts & Sciences.  The big event occurred on May 9, 1893.