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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
wes britton <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 15 Apr 2007 13:20:21 -0400
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Ah, I don't know about this experiencing "other dimensions" bit, especially
in terms of museum tours. When I was last at the Hartford House, they didn't
have audio-tapes but really didn't need any. Being there as part of a Twain
conference, I was able to "go behind the ropes" in some rooms--but got
scolded when I placed my fingers on Twain's writing desk. I smiled at this a
year or two later when I heard Garrison Keilor's radio show from
Hartford--he was permitted to play on Twain's pool table. When I get famous

someday, maybe . . .

You have to remember that most museum exhibits are often rooms and rooms of
glass display cases, and audio-tapes aren't going to add much. You can
simply read a book. I've been to some exhibitions where they have special
displays for the blind with replicas set aside you can touch. If some
artifacts are replicas and not original antiques, sometimes you can touch
them. But unless you get special dispensation to go into a room or display,
not much can give you a "special dimension." I was just saying to Camey that
the Hartford House is of such a unique design that you can get a feel for
just how different it is. I guess a similar experience for me was touring
the House of the 7 Gables. Walking through it really gave me a sense of just
how large the place is, how it's laid out, and this trip added to my
appreciation of the novel. The same for the replica of the Walden cabin.
Sighted or not, experiencing its size helps give perspective to the book.
And I mentioned Monticello as the tour guide zeroed in on me, placing me
beside artwork I could touch and he made a point of putting my hands along
bookshelves and the like that helped add to my understanding of some of the

On a somewhat related note--I think it's a good idea to read up on the
Hartford House before going. I say this as, when I was there, the guides
leaped through hoops not to identify the room where Suzy died even after I
asked repeatedly about this. I gathered they wanted to portray a happy face
for the general public. That might have been one incident that has been
corrected, but I do remember this puzzling moment. But I recall even better
sitting on the porch and pondering what Twain and the family would have seen
sitting there. Or the night Harriet Beecher Stowe  supposedly entered the
house and banged on Twain's organ and woke the family up. (I may disremember
the particulars of that.)  The more stories you know about the house in
advance, the more connections you can make in your mind.

Just a musing . . .