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Object: Navigation Tools

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I-0356a, c, and e
Reproduction Norse Navigation Tools
Norse
20th century
Materials: Wood and metal

These objects are replicas of Norse navigation tools, used by sailors to find their latitude before the sextant and Global Positioning System (GPS) were invented. Tools like these were used in order to figure out where in the sea a sailor was. Traveling by land, explorers can use nature, roads, paths, mile markers and landmarks that make it easier to get one from place to another. However, terrain that has few, or no, landmarks like the desert or the sea are difficult to navigate. Using latitude and longitude helps sailors and explorers determine how far they are from their starting point. Using latitude and longitude can help sailors reach their destination correctly, give or take by a few miles.

A quadrant, was used to measure the altitude or angle above the horizon of a star, this helped sailors calculate their latitude, or the lines on a map going from West to East. Sailors in the northern hemisphere would use the North Star, the brightest star, to find their latitude at night because it is directly over the north celestial pole and never sets. They would measure the height of the star when they started their journey and then they would compare it to the measurements as they traveled with a quadrant. They measured the height of the star from the horizon by placing the quadrant near their eye and the weight will fall to the correct degree.

Other tools used by sailors, Vikings mostly, are the pelorus and the sun shadow board. A pelorus resembles a mariner’s compass, except there is no magnetic needle. This tool was used to measure latitude during the day time. The needle in the middle of the base, or the gnomen, cast a shadow and that shadow was looked at when the sun was in the noon position. A sun shadow board was placed in a bowl of water and was used to calculate the ships latitude and direction. The shadow and the little circles on the base told the sailors whether they were in the latitude they wanted to be in.

Longitude, or the lines on a map going from North to South, was found using the sun and time. However this calculation was more difficult because, unlike today, time was not kept universally and there wasn’t a way to check that your clock was set correctly. Also, clocks and watches needed to be wound up, therefore the watches slowed down and lost time every day as the internal clockworks ran out of energy. They calculated their longitude by knowing what time the sun was in a certain position in the sky at the Prime Meridian, which is at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, United Kingdom. By carrying a clock set to the time at the Prime Meridian, travelers then could compare what time  the sun reached that set position in their location. Each hour of difference roughly equals a 15 degree change in longitude.

The map drawn by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in 1519. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The map drawn by Alonso Alvarez de Pineda of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in 1519. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Many sailors from the 1500s to around the 19th century were explorers. One explorer by the name of Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish explorer, was the first known European to map the Texas coastline. Many European explorers did not know where they ended up because they did not know how to calculate both their latitude and longitude. Many shipwrecked on unknown shores, claiming it and then not being able to find it again to colonize it. A French explorer who tried to claim Texas in the name of the French by establishing Fort St. Louis was Robert Cavelier, Sieur de LaSalle. Once time became universally synchronized and sailors and land explorers knew how to calculate their latitude and longitude they could explore land more accurately and then find it again when they were starting to colonize it. [Amanda Rock, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Berger, Melvin, and Gilda Berger. 2003. The real Vikings: craftsmen, traders, and fearsome raiders. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Bravo, Michael, and Sverker Sörlin. 2002. Narrating the Arctic: a cultural history of Nordic scientific practices. Canton, Mass: Science History Publications.

Ganeri, Anita. 1998. From sextant to sonar: the story of maps and navigation. London: Evans.

Parkman, Francis. 1956. The discovery of the great West: La Salle. New York: Rinehart.

Plant, Terry, and Terry Plant. 1990. Nordic journeys. Newton Abbot: T. Plant.

Roza, Greg. 2010. Early explorers of Texas. New York: PowerKiDs Press.

Watts, Oswald Martin. 1973. The sextant simplified: a practical explanation of the use of the sextant at sea. Sunderland: Reed.

Williams, Brian. 2003. Latitude and longitude. Mankato, MN: Smart Apple Media.

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Object: Postcards

EX2014_4_1

EX2014.4.1 a-f
HemisFair’68 Postcards
American
San Antonio, Texas
1968
Materials: Paper and Ink

Mini-monorail at HemisFair. Image via UTSA Special Collections, Digital Identifier CD # 853 ; 108-0183.tif.

Mini-monorail at HemisFair. Image via UTSA Special Collections, Digital Identifier CD # 853 ; 108-0183.tif.

These six postcards were produced for HemisFair’68. The first postcard, top left hand corner, is a picture of the food from around the world. Many varieties of international foods were served in cool outdoor plazas, and fine dining restaurants throughout the park. Food, while always an important part of any World’s Fair experience, recently took center stage at the 2015 Milan World’s Fair. While HemisFair’s theme was a “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas,Expo Milan was focused on how to feed an ever growing world population with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

The second post card, under the previous one, is the scene of the fabulous 92.6 acres of HemisFair’68. Visitors were able to explore the park in gondolas and Mexican flower boats, a mini-monorail system, a Swiss sky ride, and elevated walkways—each afforded a distinctive perspective on the 1968 World’s Fair. Today, San Antonio is considering revisiting the sky ride and monorail idea in order to make the city more accessible to pedestrians and help to revitalize the Broadway corridor. This potential project, proposed by a UTSA college of architecture team, “1000 Parks and a Line in the Sky: Broadway, Avenue of the Future” is also currently being featured as an exhibit at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

The next postcard shows the blending of old and new. There were historic 19th century mansions that were restored and used by the exhibitors as shops and restaurants. Prior to the construction of HemisFair park, the area was a residential neighborhood. Most of the buildings were demolished in order to make way for the fair attractions and pavilions, but a few of the historic buildings were preserved by the San Antonio Conservation Society and used at the fair.

The postcard in the top right hand corner, is a picture of the State of Texas Pavilion. This was the largest pavilion at HemisFair’68 and is now the home of the Institute of Texan Cultures. Today, the museum pursues a mandate as the state’s center for multicultural education by investigating the ethnic and cultural history of the state and presenting the resulting information with a variety of offerings, including this blog, with a mission to give voice to the experiences of people from across the globe who call Texas home, providing insight into the past, present and future.

William Cameron Fountain Image via UTSA Special Collections Library, Digital Identifier CD # 840 ; 108-0090.tif.

William Cameron Fountain Image via UTSA Special Collections Library, Digital Identifier CD # 840 ; 108-0090.tif.

The following postcard, directly underneath the previous one, is a picture of the Canadian Pavilion at night. Inside this pavilion, visitors walked over recreations of the Canadian waterways and viewed examples of the country’s sculptures, paintings, and history. The last postcard is a picture of the William Cameron Fountain in front of the Italian Pavilion. This fountain was designed like a dandelion and donated by Flora Cameron Kampmann and the KAMKO Foundation. Many countries hosted pavilions at HemisFair, each highlighting the cultural, artistic, and technological achievements of their nations.

[Adriana Christian edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Beagle, Gail, Phillip D. Hardberger, Lila Cockrell, and Robert W. Rydell. The Anatomy of Legislation Making HemisFair ’68 a World’s Fair. [Universal City, Tex.]: A to Z Media Productions, 2008.

Freymann, Carlos. “Interview with Carlos Freymann, 1979.” Interview by Ester G. MacMillan. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, n.d. Web. 19 July 2016. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15125coll4/id/340/rec/28

Perry, Joseph A. “Interview with Joseph A. Perry, 1984.” Interview by Ester G. MacMillan. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, n.d. Web. 19 July 2016. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15125coll4/id/723/rec/9

Sinkin, William. “Interview with William Sinkin, 1995.” Interview by Sterlin Holmesly. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, n.d. Web. 19 July 2016. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15125coll4/id/410/rec/6

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Object: Decanter

I-0631a (2)

I-0631
HemisFair 68 Jim Beam Decanter Souvenir
American
San Antonio, Texas
1968
Materials: Ceramic and Paint

This object is a souvenir Jim Beam decanter commemorating the HemisFair of 1968. A decanter is a decorative ceramic or glass bottle, with a stopper, used to store alcohol. This Jim Beam decanter has the Tower of Americas and part of the state of Texas and its landscape sculpted into the shape of a decanter. The Tower of the Americas is a famous landmark in San Antonio, TX dating back to HemisFair of 1968. This decanter was mass-produced by Regal China Co., and sold during HemisFair, as a cross-promotion for the James B. Beam Distilling Co..

The HemisFair was a World’s Fair that was held from April 6, 1968 to October 6, 1968, in San Antonio, Texas. HemisFair welcomed over thirty nations and six million visitors. The Tower of the Americas was built especially for HemisFair, and was completed just days before the start of the fair. The tower measures 622 feet tall from ground to the highest architectural element, with the observation floor at 579 feet, making it the 29th tallest building in the state of Texas. It was the tallest observation tower in the United States until 1997, when the Stratosphere Tower was built in Las Vegas.

Blueprint of the Eiffel Tower by one of its main engineers, Maurice Koechlin (ca. 1884). Image via Wikimedia Commons

Blueprint of the Eiffel Tower by one of its main engineers, Maurice Koechlin (ca. 1884). Image via Wikimedia Commons

Observation towers have been associated with several World Fair venues. The 1889 Paris World’s Fair commemorated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, and included the construction of the now world-famous Eiffel Tower. Built by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel‘s construction company, Eiffel et Compagnie, and largely based off designs by Maurice Koechlin. Observation towers were also built for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, and others. [Adriana Christian, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Hodges, Justine. Tower of the Americas: Guidebook. San Antonio [Tex.]: Edward O. Goetz, 1968.

Holmesly, Sterlin. Hemisfair ’68 and the Transformation of San Antonio. 2003.

Lemoine, Bertrand. The Eiffel Tower. Cologne: Taschen GmbH, 2008.

Wallace, Thomas M. 2016. “The Tallest Buildings In The World”. The Civil Engineering Blog: Being Brunel. 2016-05.

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