Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Atlanta In 50 Objects Includes Five Olympic Rings

As the world awaits the start to Rio 2016, many Atlanta locals are wondering how their city may commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Centennial Olympic Games.

Those inclined to reminisce about the glory days of '96 may do so at the Atlanta History Center, home of the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, which I wrote up on this blog about a year ago.

This time last year I also mentioned the Atlanta History Center's call for public suggestions to inform a now open temporary exhibition titled "Atlanta In 50 Objects." A recent three-day weekend afforded time for a peek at the final 50, and here's what I found.

Venue organizers describe "Atlanta In 50 Objects" with the following introduction:

The exhibition is filled with prized Atlanta-rooted treasures -- from Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech manuscript to Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreck and a 1915 Coca-Cola bottle mold to a touchable cast of Willie B's handprints -- as well as plenty of surprises."

While it did not surprise me an Atlanta Olympic Torch made it into the exhibition (several folks like me suggested a representation of the Games), there were plenty of nice surprises -- including more items with five-ringed connections -- throughout "Atlanta In 50 Objects."

The most prominent Games keepsake, as I mentioned, is a torch on view with a poster-sized photograph of Muhammad Ali as the final torchbearer of the 1996 relay. 

It surprised and delighted me this Olympic feature is displayed beside one of Hank Aaron's home run bats for a fun "sports corner" in the exhibition (the Braves also appear elsewhere as a World Series ring is on view).

Now that composer and American treasure John Williams just earned his 50th Academy Award nomination, it was super cool to find a signed copy of the trumpet players' music sheets for "Summon the Heroes" personalized from Williams to Billy Payne. 

I also enjoyed finding a rare Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) golden ticket presentation box displayed as another Centennial Games Keepsake. These were presented to the leadership of key sponsors of the Atlanta Games during the Opening Ceremony, and many of the few sets made remain in the private collections of the executives who received them.

(Sidebar: I've been trying to sell an identical, rare brass Olympic ticket presentation box on Ebay for a friend since last spring ... bids are welcome and encouraged for those who wish to own a museum quality piece of Olympic history!).

I loved seeing models of downtown Atlanta showcasing local architect hero John Portman -- several of his buildings were used by ACOG and the International Olympic Committee or national Olympic committees before and during Atlanta's Games.

Time Man of the Year and CNN/TBS founder Ted Turner also got a space among the 50 objects, which span the 1800's to modern times. 

Kids may love spotting one of the Chick-fil-A cows or the "Pink Pig" ride while readers may enjoy the first edition of "Gone With The Wind" (reportedly the most successful book in publishing history behind only the Bible). 

"Atlanta In 50 Objects" is on view through July 10.

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver


myles said...

Brings back memories of my days with ACOG and the Ceremonies team. Also, bad memories of the Portman-designed buildings, him of the urban-prison-design style!!

Phazer said...

I'm not sure I can ever go back to any other place, after an experience like this. This place is appropriate in a space that lends so much gravitas to events. The design of New York Event Venues is sharp and environment is unbelievably good.

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