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March 09, 2011
Explore museums, theater and more through GW’s Culture Buffs series.
By Matt Lindsay
On April 14, 1865, approximately 1,700 people gathered in Ford’s Theatre to see Our American Cousin and witnessed the assassination of an American president.
On Feb. 27, 32 GW alumni gathered at the same theater to learn about the life and death of President Abraham Lincoln at the year’s second GW Culture Buffs event, featuring History Professor Tyler Anbinder.
Other events in this year’s series include tours of the Crime and Punishment Museum and the National Museum of Women in the Arts and a performance at D.C.’s Arena Stage.
Culture Buffs is sponsored by the GW Alumni Association but also open to other GW community members.
The on-site, in-depth lectures from GW's faculty experts are the draw for many program participants. “That’s what’s special and can tie alumni back to the campus,” said Richard Dressner, B.A. ’67, who attended the Ford’s Theatre brunch and event.
Shannon Mouton, MVC B.A. ’90, agreed. “I love having the professor there,” she said. “They put what we are about to see in perspective and give it context.”
And it’s not just the graduates who enjoy the GW Culture Buffs experience.
“I love meeting alumni,” said Dr. Anbinder. “When you are a faculty member you know your students are interested in your subject at the time, but you wonder if they continue to care years later. To see people who are still history buffs makes any history professor proud.”
The GW Culture Buffs program, formerly known as Monthly Museum Tours, was relaunched in December with a trip to the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. The 40-plus attendees toured the lavish estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, a 1904 Mount Vernon Seminary graduate, and its extensive collection of imperial Russian and French art and objects.
Since then, GW Culture Buffs have visited the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, Ford's Theatre, and most recently, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where 60 alumni gathered for a brunch and discussion about “The Stuff of American Jewish History” with Jenna Weissman Joselit, the Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of History.
Later this spring, GW Culture Buffs will learn about Edward Albee’s provocative play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? from English Professor Patricia Griffith before a March 25 performance at Arena Stage. In early May, alumni and staff can experience the Eye Wonder exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts after lunch with Art History Professor Bibiana Obler. (For more information and a full schedule of upcoming events, visit the GW Culture Buffs website.)
Ms. Mouton, who attended the Hillwood Estate event and already has tickets to the Eye Wonder outing, says the series gives her the opportunity to explore the city with fellow alumni.
“There are these little pockets of great things here in the city that few people know about,” she said. “The Culture Buffs can point out some of those little pockets.”
Watch this month’s Alumni Interactive video with GW History Professor Tyler Andinder.
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