3/4/24: Structuring the Chaos of Old Glory

Valeria R -

Week three began by gathering all Old Glory exhibit materials from around the archives basement onto one table. This included two file cabinets’ worth of folders, the box of folders I accounted for last week, the six binders of visitor comments, and other items like the exhibit catalogue and a binder full of general information of the exhibit. My site advisor Aspen and I examined the spreadsheets describing the contents of each folder and created these categories (along with some subcategories) to begin organizing each item:

  • Visitor commentary books
  • Exhibit Information
  • News Clippings
  • Public Reaction
  • Ephemera
  • Museum Generated Material
  • Meetings
  • Events
  • David Rubin Personal Correspondence

I then began the process of sorting each page into piles based on these categories. This coming week, we’ll see if I find a way to fit more piles onto the table, as there are still some categories missing from the image below. So far, I’ve learned more about the gravity of the controversy surrounding this exhibit. I’ve included images of some of the most interesting items I came across last week, but not pictured are things like back-and-forth letters between PhxArt and the Phoenix Government which was concerned about the public’s reaction to Old Glory, and even considered selling the museum building. I also came across statements from other politicians like John McCain, Newt Gingrich (90s Speaker of the House), and Bob Dole (1996 presidential hopeful) who strongly condemned the displays of the flag in this exhibit.

This is what my sorting looks like so far. More binders and folders are placed on the floor below this table as well.
The folders contained about 30 of these; they each contain written complaints about the exhibit on the back.
Main poster advertisement for the exhibit.
Political cartoon drawn by Steve Benson poking fun at the people upset by Kate Millett’s “American Dream Goes to Pot,” or the American flag in the toilet displayed at Old Glory.
A man at a protest outside of PhxArt, referencing the political cartoon above.

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    Why were they considering selling the museum?
    I had no idea Old Glory was so popular! Funny how just putting a flag in a toilet can attract so much outrage from politicians.
    Some Phoenix councilmembers personally offended by the exhibit, and the city of Phoenix was receiving lots of backlash because of it as well. I've read plenty of letters of people saying they were ashamed of the city!

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