Pop rocks
From Staff
Thursday, November 12, 2009


Has there ever been a story of more woe than what will happen to Fort Discovery after the science stuff doth go?

The National Science Center recently announced it would sell Fort Discovery, Augusta's riverside science museum. The facility opened in 1997 after the demise of the Port Royal mall. It was, by any accounting, a far more successful use of the space than the high-end shops.

Since the announcement that the Mars rovers and bumblebees would be shipping out, many suggestions have been made as to what might become of the 128,000-square-foot facility. The idea generating the most heat is to put the embattled TEE center there. It's a possibility, I suppose, but it certainly seems a lot of work would have to be done adapting the property.

The question is, what can go into a space split into galleries, equipped with a theater and designed for field trips that doesn't require a massive remodeling?

Well, how about another museum? More specifically, how about the Morris Museum of Art?

When the Morris opened in 1992, it was assumed that its current office building digs would be temporary. Plans were drawn up for a beautiful building across Reynolds Street from the Augusta Common. But those plans have been on the back burner for some years now.

It's possible the economics of the project have proved too daunting. It's possible that the museum has grown accustomed to its current location, which does function surprisingly well. But neither of those address a real problem the Morris faces and will continue to face:

The Morris has too much art and not enough wall.

Between the expanding permanent collection and the special exhibitions that rotate through, space is at a premium.

The Morris needs a new space. Fort Discovery is a museum space waiting for a tenant. Am I the only one seeing this?

There would be work required before the Morris could take up residence. Expensive work.

For instance, an art museum requires specific environmental control, a system Fort Discovery might not have had.

The galleries at Fort Discovery were also built with a lot of open floor, perfect for the interactive exhibits it displayed. The Morris has paintings. Paintings need walls. Some would have to be built.

But look at the advantages. The proximity to the Augusta Museum of History would make that block the field trip promised land and certainly would make partnerships between the two facilities simple and obvious.

The current Morris facility could become the insurance offices and law firms it was clearly intended to be, and Fort Discovery, a space built to be a museum, could remain one.

That's win-win in my book.


Last week, I received a copy of the new Nirvana Live at Reading DVD/CD. I wanted to check this release out because I've long been a fan of the late, great Seattle band, and because I was fortunate enough to have caught this very show while living in England.

Watching the set for a second time, 17 years after angling out of the mosh pit to watch the concert in the cold and muddy shadow of the sound booth, I was struck by two things.

The first and most immediate was how well the set held up, how thrilling it was to watch a band playing on the edge, constantly flirting with disaster and always finding a way to reel things back in with a hard hook or clever fill.

The more I watched, however, the more melancholy I became. It was not, as expected, because I was now aware of the sad history that would follow. Instead, I felt like I was experiencing a unique sense of nostalgia that few will experience again.

When Nirvana played this date in the late summer of 1992, the Internet was in its infancy. There was no YouTube, no Twitter and no smart phones. Instant communication was the telephone. Nirvana played this show and then, with the exception of a few bootlegs and the memories of the thousands that attended, it ceased to exist. Songs from the set didn't make their way to a million hard drives. There was no shaky phone footage shot and texted before the final feedback faded. It existed as a single experience.

Now, a big concert is almost instantly shared by the entire planet. Because of text, Twitter and Facebook, there is no such thing as an exclusive audience.

Even the acts themselves are embracing the idea. Recently, U2 provided a live Webcast of a performance in Los Angeles, expanding its potential audience from a full stadium to anyone with a fast enough connection.

So here are the big questions. Has the interactive nature of contemporary life robbed fans of some of what makes the live experience special? Is the ready availability of every song and set redefining audience, or does experiencing live music mean more than just an appreciation of a moment digitally captured?

I'd like to believe the latter.

Watching Nirvana roll through those songs again reminded me of more than just how powerful an act it was. There was also the mud, blood, beer and kinship I felt, standing in that sodden field with fans hoping, for a single set, to see something special.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


Read more of Steven Uhles' blog about entertainment in Augusta at blogs.augusta.com.

From the Thursday, November 12, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle


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