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      News — Places

      A Visit to Taubman Museum of Art

      I was recently in Roanoke, Virginia for a family reunion and had the pleasure of going to their small but excellent new art museum, the Taubman Museum of Art. Designed by architect Randall Stout, it focuses on mostly one-room galleries of American art. There were several great exhibits, but I really liked the one of drawings and handmade cardboard objects called "Kiel Johnson: One Thing Leads to Another."

      This Poe House

      Daguerreotype taken in Richmond, VA Sept. 1849, 3 weeks before he died

      Daguerreotype taken in Richmond, VA Sept. 1849 (3 weeks before he died in Baltimore)

      If you know me (and well really, you probably don't), you know that I'm a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe. I grew up reading him and was born outside of Baltimore and moved to Virginia as a kid, eventually ending up at one time living across the street from the house where a good friend of Poe's lived and is known as the last place where he recited "The Raven" (the house is called "Talavera" at 2315 West Grace Street). Really we thought of it as the "cat house" because there were a million cats lingering around there, but i've digressed enough for now.

      The house where Poe lived in Baltimore is in danger of closing due to a loss of funding by the city and it must become self-sufficient by July 2012 or face closure. This will be difficult as it's not in the most desirable neighborhood to visitors and lacks any adequate parking. On top of that it doesn't have the range of artifacts of say, the Poe House in Richmond (which has a great collection, but the house itself--while historic--is not a place Poe actually lived and wrote in). What makes this building special is that one of America's greatest writers really did live and write within its walls. It is the place itself precisely that matters.

      Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, Baltimore, MD

      Poe struggled with poverty his entire life and all of his homes are modest in size and bare in decor. His letters are littered with desperate appeals for money to keep him going and also to help him start his never-realized literary magazine, The Stylus. The fact that one of his houses faces financial difficulties is apropos (say it out loud for a fun pun) and certainly shows us that our history is alive and not always well.

      There is no official website or blog or twitter that I can find for the house (although the EAP Society of Baltimore has a great site on Poe in Baltimore), but there is a petition on the Poe bicentennial page to send to the Mayor of Baltimore to keep funding alive for the Poe House. It's a small thing and there are certainly bigger and more important issues happening, but history is always worth fighting for and hopefully the city adds this relatively small item back in their budget so we all have the opportunity to visit.

      The Petition is here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-the-poe-house-and-museum-in-baltimore/

      More info on the threat here: http://www.eapoe.org/threat.htm

      L.A. Times article about it here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-poe-house-funding,0,2353983.story