Sight, the workhorse of the five senses, puts in too many hours keeping man from falling in manholes. Reward the most overworked sense with today's Groupon: for $25, you get an individual membership (a $50 value) to the Harry Ransom Center, which is located on the University of Texas campus on West 21st Street. Two Groupons can be combined to get a dual membership (a $90 value). Membership registration must be completed online; your card(s) will arrive in the mail within one to two weeks after registering.
The Harry Ransom Center is devoted to the study of the arts and humanities via a collection of cultural materials that range from literary manuscripts and photography to assorted art from the fifteenth through the twentieth century, film paraphernalia, and much more. Gander at current exhibitions such as “Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection,” a dualistic narrative of photographic history and collection methodology, or wait with baited breath for upcoming curated explorations, such as “Becoming Tennesse Williams.” The latter exhibit arrives on February 1, 2011, and puts a spotlight on the Ransom Center’s collection of Tennessee Williams manuscripts, epistolary scrawlings, photographs, and artwork, all in an effort to reveal how one man became a world-renowned playwright. While passing through, be sure to peep at permanent installations, such as one of only five complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible that exists in the United States, and a copy of the world’s first photograph, which was tagged on Facebook in 1826.
Whether you’re a lone ranger with an individual membership or a lone ranger who has finally moved in with Tonto, creating the need for a dual membership, you will receive a wide range of exclusive membership benefits. Though the center is free and open to the public, members receive invitations to select member events, complimentary valet parking when attending select events, a subscription to the bi-annual print newsletter Ransom Edition, and a subscription to monthly electronic newsletter, eNews. Individuals will receive one personalized membership card, while duos will receive a set of two personalized cards. Likewise, individuals get one invitation to exhibition previews, whereas dual members get two invitations for such events.
Harry Ransom Center membership offices are closed Friday, December 24, 2010 until Monday, January 3, 2011. All inquiries received during this period will be answered on or after January 3.
The Harry Ransom Center has been featured in the press, including MediaBistro's mention of the Center's fundraising to restore costumes featured in Gone With the Wind. The Center has a perfect five-star average from Yelpers and can be seen in a video here. More than 4,300 Facebook fans like the Harry Ransom Center:
- The money will be put into working to restore the costumes, which are scheduled to be displayed in 2014, the 75th anniversary of the famous film, as well as giving the museum the ability to loan them out to other organizations following that exhibition. – Steve Delahoyde, MediaBistro
- What a wonderful, wonderful place. The world needs more spots like the Harry Ransom Center that preserve culture and history in such an appealing environment. – MacRae O., Yelp
Harry Ransom Center
Shakespeare. Keats. Tennyson. The University of Texas at Austin had already acquired manuscripts and first editions by these notable authors by the time Harry Huntt Ransom founded the Humanities Research Center in 1957. Rather than continue to mine the Renaissance and Romantic eras for artifacts, Ransom ushered the archives into the 20th century by obtaining the collections of literary legends such as James Joyce and Dylan Thomas. Under the curatorial eye of current director Stephen Enniss, the facility––known these days as the Harry Ransom Center––includes the archives of Robert De Niro, David Mamet, Magnum Photos, David Foster Wallace, Ed Ruscha, and the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate papers.
All told, the center contains 42 million leaves of manuscript, 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and 100,000 works of art, which, according to Frommer's, are available for any visitor's perusal. Inside the building's galleries, exhibitions showcase material alongside permanently displayed items such as one of five complete copies of the Gutenburg Bible in the United States. The Harry Ransom Center also hosts a range of public and academic programs, events, and symposia annually.