Programming at the new Ransom Galleries began in earnest in late April and has resulted in record-breaking attendance figures at a variety of events. Of particular note is the opening of the new Charles Nelson Prothro Theater. With its state-of-the-art lighting and sound, comfortable seating and attractive design, the space is suited to a wide range of programs based on the Ransom Center's exhibitions and collections.
On April 22, the Ransom Center inaugurated its theater with the annual Pforzheimer Lecture, featuring John Sutherland, a British professor, writer, and commentator. Sutherland's witty and informative talk centered around libraries in the information age.
Events that complement the exhibition In A New Light began on Sunday, May 18, with the presentation of "In A New Light: The Harry Ransom Center," a history of the Center, its leadership and collections, as well as an introduction to the new space and its galleries. The next In A New Light public program featured Austin writer Dale Rice, who regaled his audience with the story of Barbette, a remarkable cross-dressing aerialist in Belle Epoque Paris. An image of Barbette, drawn by Jean Cocteau, is featured in the In A New Light exhibition.
On July 10, "In A New Light: Through A New Lens," featured David Coleman, the Ransom Center's Associate Curator of Photography, discussing the first century of Photography as represented in the Center's collections. On Sunday, July 13, Dr. David Evans graciously told an appreciative audience about Sir William Herschel, the great astronomer, and his remarkable family of scientists and innovators. Later, film buffs gathered for a screening of Male and Female, Gloria Swanson's career-making silent classic. Austin musician Peter Stopschinski performed an original score that he composed for this event.
On May 6th Benjamin Bagby, of Cologne, Germany, stopped in Austin en route to a conference at which he was to perform an 8 hour recital of Beowulf, in the original early English. His program at the Ransom Center featured portions of this performance, along with a lecture on his techniques, use of period musical instruments, and translation comments. Bagby drew a crowd of enthusiastic listeners, though the event was pulled together with only a few days notice.
The coming year will bring a wide variety of ground-breaking programs, from a very rare film festival, "Unseen Cinema," which will feature American Avant-Garde film from the first half of the twentieth century, to discussions of Modernism's effects on society's definition of God.