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Public Library Superman exhibit

2013 June 24
by Matt

Though I took the occasion to experiment with multimodal transportation, the primary motivation for last Friday’s trip to the downtown Cleveland library was the 75th anniversary Superman exhibit. And I do have a few notes and photos.

Small display promoting larger, upstairs display

Lower level installation

Obviously, the most important thing was the display of my nano-famous Superman’s Cleveland map. It was generously placed right in the middle of the exhibit.

My map, some other less-important stuff

(The document at lower-right)

Moreover, I was even briefly recognized during the introductory remarks. So, personal ego-boosting was entirely adequate. As for the rest of the exhibit and presentation…?

Also quite enjoyable. The exhibit is basically several cases of any and everything Superman-, Siegel- and/or Shuster-related from the past 75 years.

A case of Superman-related stuff

Example

It seemed just a bit like the Escher exhibit I visited a couple of years ago, in that there was nothing astonishing here for someone who comes in with more than casual knowledge. But, like that exhibit, it’s still nice, and will probably prove a good deal more enlightening for visitors with only basic background from movies or cartoons. A few items held particular interest for me, among them those related to the 50th anniversary; looking at them in context of the event surrounding me, it kind of suggested a 25+ year uphill struggle to make something of the connection between Cleveland and Superman. Frankly, it left me feeling that, with my Superman’s Cleveland map, I had singlehandedly made a minor but still significant contribution to the state of that campaign. Which is simultaneously gratifying, personally, and a little sad in the bigger picture.

Still, by itself this is an excellent exhibit, and I would say the same of the presentation. I was honestly a little uncertain about what we would get, from this, suspecting it might be rather tiresome blather about the “significance” of Superman (along these lines, e.g.). But Mike Olszewski, president of the Siegel and Shuster Society, did a commendable job. (Selecting a radio personality is probably a good start, in general.) Lively, engaging, with good pacing and use of anecdote. The tone was overwhelmingly positive, which ends up feeling just a little jarring for me in the context of Superman’s creators’ story… but at the same time, the dark sides of that story are well-documented elsewhere and I also tend to feel like it’s generally more useful to look ahead than to dwell on those particular past wrongs further, anyway…

And, for that matter, the opening reception is also over, at this point. But the exhibit will remain on display through September 14. Go check it out, you may discover something interesting… I mean, how weird is it that the role of Lois Lane was once played a woman named Noel Neill?

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