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Transitioning away from St. Patrick’s Day, the exhibition moves to oral histories. An astounding range is available for listening, and a wall displays the names and pictures of the people interviewed, from Liz Carroll to Gabriel Byrne.
The exhibition ends in an unusual way – in a 1960s era Irish-American living room. The final installation has the usual furnishings of a living room from the time period: a television console with dials; a radio; a couch, a coffee table. As with anything else, it is the details that make the room Irish-American. On the wall across from the television hang a framed Sacred Heart of Jesus painting, a rural Irish scene featuring a cottage, and a portrait of President John F. Kennedy. The television airs three extended clips, including scenes from The Jackie Gleason Show and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on The Ed Sullivan Show. The radio plays three sets of songs dating back to the early 1900s, including Bing Crosby singing “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra.”
The exhibition’s joyous celebration of historical connections between the performing arts and the everyday aspects of both cultures will appeal to all ages and interests. Children will embrace the opportunity to try step dancing. Music aficionados will appreciate the diversity of discography available. Theater buffs will love the play scenes available for viewing, and no one who has ever set foot in an Irish-American home will be able to resist the nostalgic welcome of the living room installation.
The exhibition’s curator, Prof. Marion Casey, Clinical Professor of Irish Studies and Senior Archivist, Archives of Irish America at NYU, best described the exhibition to Irish America: “There has never been anything like this for Irish America. What a rare opportunity to showcase some of the rich archival treasures in New York City repositories that document our performance history in this country!...It is thrilling to be able to teach through an exhibition that reaches so many people in the world’s premier performing arts forum, Lincoln Center.”
“Ireland-America: The Ties That Bind” is open Monday – Saturday, now through August 13th.