Learn About Dinosaurs This (and Every) Weekend!

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Head over to the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History. The Exhibit Museum offers free docent-led tours of the dinosaur exhibits every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. for the first 15 people to sign up. You can sign up at the host table in the Rotunda lobby. Sign up is first come, first served. The tours last approximately 30 minutes. As an added bonus, check out a Museum Adventure Pass and receive a 10% discount in the museum store!

Iraq National Museum Reopening

The Iraq National Museum is reopening this week, the Associated Press reports. Following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the museum suffered a chaotic fate chronicled in the book The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad : the lost legacy of ancient Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia, which largely corresponds to what is now Iraq, was where the world’s earliest civilization developed around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Artifacts from the Stone Age through the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic periods had been collected at the Iraq museum. But when it was ransacked six years ago, armed thieves stole thousands of artifacts, prompting archaeologists around the globe to join recovery efforts. Still, almost half the artifacts remain missing, including an estimated 50 items of strong historical significance.

Happy Birthday Art Spiegelman!

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"Art Spiegelman... to the comics world is a Michelangelo and a Medici both, an influential artist who is also an impresario and an enabler of others." (The New York Times Magazine). Born February 15, 1948, Art Spiegelman is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel Maus, based on his parents' survival of the Holocaust. If you have never read the Maus series, you should definitely add them to your "must read before I die" list. Spiegelman's hauntingly simple black and white drawings depict Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, Poles as pigs. If you think of graphic novels or comics as "fluff", Spiegelman's powerful work will change your mind.

Here at the AADL you can also find In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman's account of life after the September 11th attacks (Spiegelman and his family bore witness to the attacks in their lower Manhattan neighborhood: his teenage daughter had started school directly below the towers days earlier, and they had lived in the area for years). We also have many other Spiegelman works like Breakdowns : Portrait of The Artist as a Young %@&*!, and the offbeat Little Lit : It Was a Dark and Silly Night for children, featuring comics by Lemony Snicket, William Joyce, and Neil Gaiman, to name just a few.

The statesman and the scientist

Today, February 12, marks the 200th birthday of two larger than life figures: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, grew up poor but went on to become a lawyer, congressman and 16th President of the U.S. A new biography by former Presidential candidate George McGovern part of the American Presidents Series, presents Lincoln as both politician, pragmatist and idealist.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England and is best known for his revolutionary (for his day) theories of evolution. A new and very readable book about Darwin in our collection is titled Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of a Remarkable Man which includes brief chapters and many illustrations, some which are Darwin's own photographs.

A book that looks at both these men as visionaries and men encumbered with their own personal struggles is Adam Gopnick's Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln and Modern Life.

John Dingell Day in Michigan

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It's official, John Dingell is now the longest-serving representative in Congress. And to make it really official, Governor Granholm has issued a proclamation declaring today, February 11, 2009, John Dingell Day. Mr. Dingell has served over 53 years (19,420 days and counting) in Congress. (Only Senator Robert Byrd has served longer.) Dingell will be a special guest on NPR's Political Junkie today. PJ is part of Talk of the Nation at 2 p.m. on Michigan Radio.

Underground Railroad Display

Enjoy colorful creations by Judy Schmidt of Ann Arbor Storyteller’s Guild fame who incorporated the Monkey Wrench, Flying Geese, Bear Paw and other designs into her beautiful quilts. Stop by the glass case in the Downtown Youth Department to see books about the Underground Railroad and the much discussed Quilt Code and then check out Karen Simpson's lovely quilts on the far wall of the Youth Department. Maybe they will inspire you to color a quilt design of your own and hang it beside hers!

Please Pass The Potato Chips

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Craving a salty snack? Pick up a copy of Crunch!: A History of the Great American Potato Chip. Dirk Burhans (past publisher of Greasy Spoon magazine) takes readers on a journey from locally made treats to the multimillion dollar empire of today's snack food industry. Fans of pop culture and American trivia will enjoy the wealth of potato chip history found in this book. Being a midwesterner is also helpful, since Burhans' view is obviously influenced by his Ohio roots. Although the writing didn't always hold me glued to the book, I loved the illustrations - full color images of early advertising art, wacky historical photos (check out the 1952 National Potato Chip Institute Convention), and quirky potato chip paraphernalia. Please pass the dip.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

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On Feb. 1st, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian launches its digital showcase to give everyone the opportunity to look into its archives. Eventually, they hope to have their entire collection online.

Assembled at the turn of the twentieth century by wealthy New Yorker George Gustav Heye (1874–1957), the collections are distinguished by thousands of masterworks, including intricate wood and stone carvings and masks from the Northwest Coast of North America; elegantly painted and quilled hides, clothing, and feather bonnets from the North American Plains.

This museum also hosts frequent exhibitions in both New York and Washington, D.C. Perfect excuse for a spring vacation to these great destinations!

Former anti-war activist to speak at U of M

Remember all the hoopla surrounding Obama's supposed relationship with William Ayers who was involved in a bombing during a Vietnam protest by the Weather Underground in the 1960's? Ayers, currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago, will be speaking and then reading from the re-publication of his 2001 book, Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist, at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery, Room 100. He will be joined by his wife, law professor Bernadine Dohrn. To read some of Ayer's recent thoughts on education and Obama's cabinet picks, check out his blog.

Inauguration Day - Past and Present

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Since George Washington's inauguration in 1789, the transfer of presidential power has become an American tradition. If the upcoming festivities have you curious about this time-honored ceremony, check out Presidential inaugurations for a light, yet concise, history of each president and their beginnings. (This book is great for fans of presidential trivia) The upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president, will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln with the theme "A New Birth of Freedom". For related historical information check out Lincoln's greatest speech : the second inaugural from the AADL's collection. Visit Barack Obama's official inauguration website if you seek more information about Tuesday's upcoming events. If you find yourself wanting to relive history, Bartleby.com has the full text of ALL Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington to George W. Bush. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

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