The Joachim Museum’s new temporary exhibition: Over Here and Over There: World War I in Song and Stereo, explores aspects of the popular culture of the First World War period while honoring local soldiers who served. The exhibit features popular music of the period, along with a 3-D presentation based on stereo views of the war, and an exhibit of posters of the era encouraging everything from enlisting in the armed services to saving food and growing gardens to help win the war.
World War I is the first war with recorded music and literally thousands of popular songs were written to boost soldier morale, mourn losses, generate home front support and even protest the war. Many of these songs entered the realm of popular music and remain part of its canon today. Over There and the post war hit, How Ya Gonna Keep’em Down on the Farm, After They’ve Seen Paree?, have become tunes that still seem familiar generations later. From comedic efforts meant to lessen the brutality of war to melancholy melodies dedicated to the mother or girl left behind, the popular music of the period captures a variety of emotions brought on by the uncertainty of life during the war. Visitors will be able to listen to some of these songs as they were originally presented, as cylinder records for the phonograph, or as piano rolls played automatically on the mechanical wonder, the player piano. Visitors can also learn to play these hits on a modern keyboard where a computer program will guide the visitor in playing the songs on their own.
World War I was also one of the last wars to be captured by stereo views. Invented in the mid-19th century, stereo views are a matched set of photographs where two images are shot at roughly the distance between your eyes. When viewed through a stereoscope, the two images merge into one and give the viewer the impression of dimensionality to the image. Sets of these cards and viewers found themselves in the homes of middle class Americans and the topics covered included, great events, the Civil War, the Johnstown Flood and tours of the world. The Keystone View Company produced a variety of sets of these images for World War I, beginning as early as 1915 and continuing until after the Armistice was signed in 1918. Americans curious about the scenes described by their friends and family involved in the conflict could buy the stereo view sets and gain a visual reference to the war. From these views the Joachim Museum has selected several dozen to form the basis of a 3-D video presentation. The Museum converted the photographs to red/blue digital anaglyphs, which when viewed with 3-d glasses, give the impression of a three dimensional image.
In an era before radio broadcasting, posters were an important part of the communication strategy of the government. They offered quick, efficient, colorful and often memorable images that communicated simple messages to the public. Encouraging enlistment in the armed services was never as effectively communicated as with James Montgomery Flagg’s image of Uncle Sam with the caption “I WANT YOU.” While the “Uncle Sam” poster is perhaps the best known, thousands of other posters not only encouraged enlistment, but also saving food, growing a garden, knitting sox, buying liberty bonds, and joining the Red Cross. Scores of these posters, preserved by the Library of Congress and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, will be digitally displayed in the exhibition and a small number of them will be part of an outdoor exhibition in Prairie Outpost Park, adjacent to the Joachim Museum.
In addition to the posters in the park, a World War I era War Garden will be planted this summer and will be the outdoor classroom for the Joachim Museum’s summer youth program, where elementary aged students will plant and maintain an heirloom vegetable garden. For more information about the summer youth program or the exhibit, call 456-6225 or visit www.dickinsonmuseumcenter.org.
Over Here and Over There: World War I in Song and Stereo will open to the public on Memorial Day.
Admission to the Joachim Museum is free.
Joachim Museum/Dickinson Museum Center
188 Museum Drive East
Dickinson ND 58601
(701) 456-6225 www.dickinsonmuseumcenter.org
The Joachim Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day