I'll spare you all the details of the Observatory and it's recent renovation and programs and get to the good part (my husband is good at reminding me to "Get to your point!" when I am telling stories - I am like spaghetti - to me, it's all connected!). Connecting the new and the old wings of the Museum and Observatory (which is celebrating it's 70th birthday this year!) is the "Cosmic Connection." I was BEYOND surprised with the exhibit along the walls of the corridor... I'll let the website's description do the talking: "The Cosmic Connection, the corridor linking the historic building above with the new Gunther Depths of Space below, provides the transition from ground-based and more familiar astronomy to a new realm of cosmic perspective. The main element in this passageway is a 150-foot timeline of the universe whimsically composed of celestial-themed jewelry in the glass case that lines the corridor. At the top end of the corridor, near the Guide Station, visitors pass the Big Bang. At the bottom end, near the Edge of Space mezzanine, all of human history occupies a fraction of an inch. In between, large images illustrate key moments in the evolution of the universe and our cultural connection to the cosmos." That's right - a whole astronomical illustration made of nothing but JEWELRY! It was beyond amazing - 150 feet of star-themed broaches, necklaces, earrings, even some sheriff's badges and studded belts, all lines up to depict the infamy of the history of our universe! According to the Epoch Times, the collection is made up of over 2,200 pieces of jewelry, most of which were from donor Kara Knack's private collection. She started collection celestial broaches when she noticed the conversations they started. As a friend of the Observatory, she offered them to the new wing of the museum and managed to collect over 500 more pieces thanks to friends who worked at Swap Meets. Originally the use of her pieces was discouraged by scientists and astronomers who saw them as "kitchy" and "unscientific" (lame - and perhaps proving the science and art are often like oil and water?!).According to SFGate, "In 2003, Krupp [the director of the observatory] prevailed, insisting that 'a ribbon of jewelry will serve as a time line of the universe.' Just days before the Galactic Gala on Oct. 29, 2006, that marked the reopening, Knack unrolled a 165-foot-long piece of paper in her driveway. She drew a line that she said looked like a giant string snapped like a whip. At the Los Angeles jewelry mart, she bought connectors, pins, nails and needle-nosed pliers. She enlisted 18 volunteers who stationed the jewelry along a display board, earring by bracelet by necklace by pin, with Knack organizing the pieces to appear 'random and chaotic.' Having worn almost every piece to one occasion or another, she knew them well." Working on a crazy timeline, she and the volunteers constructed the entire display within ONE day! The resulting display shows "the universe of over 13.7 billion years, from its beginning to today, a time line marks each billion year interval, and in panels written by Carolyn Collins Petersen, tells what scientists think happened during specific time periods. Clustering many small pieces at the beginning symbolizes the Big Bang, the beginning of our universe, and placing numerous pieces with suns and moons that have human faces toward the end of the line to mark the beginning of human life" (Epoch Times). The pieces really were each stunning, each in their own right, and shined ever so beautifully under the bright display lights. Most astounding of all was the scale of the display: 150 feet represents the 15+/- billion year history of our universe! That means each of the 2,200 pieces of jewelry represents 6,818,181 years of history! That really puts things into perspective! Or, in terms of the recent Haitian disaster, every piece of jewelry represents 45 lives lost. I can comprehend it more clearly now, and am left, for once, speechless.
The magnitude of numbers especially overwhelmed me yesterday when I took yesterday off of work and drove my parents and brother (parents are visiting from Kentucky; brother just moved here) to the Griffith Observatory. I have heard that this place is an LA Must-See, both for it's impressive view of the city, but also for it's equally impressive, newly renovated museum. Oh, and it's home to lots of movies, including Rebel Without A Cause, The Rocketeer, and Yes Man. We drove to the peak of the Los Feliz Mountains and within minutes understood why this is on the top of the list. Breathtaking.(love my new camera and picnik photo enhancer!)