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Nashville pays tribute to Mark Twain with citywide celebration

Posted by on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 in Articles, Winter 2010.

Barry Moser’s woodcut of Mark Twain
Barry Moser’s woodcut of Mark Twain

Vanderbilt’s libraries are part of a citywide, months-long artistic exploration of the lively, provoking and distinctly American writer Mark Twain.

The “Twain & Twang” celebration kicked off downtown in the fall and continues through June.

A baker’s dozen of Nashville institutions joined together to focus on the works of Mark Twain in a variety of ways, crossing all artistic lines and attracting all ages. At Vanderbilt, the Twain celebration will be marked with the “Mark Twain: An American Enigma” exhibit of the library’s Marc H. Hollender Mark Twain Collection.

“It’s exciting to be a part of this citywide event,” Dean of Libraries Connie Vinita Dowell said. “Vanderbilt is a key part of the Nashville community, and I’m delighted to be celebrating Mark Twain and sharing such an amazing collection.”

Partnering with Vanderbilt in the Twain & Twang celebration are Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Metro Parks, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Public Library, NPT, Metro Parks, People’s Branch Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, TPAC and YMCA artEMBRACE.

The Twain exhibit in Special Collections will run from January 31 through June 30. “We are fortunate to have such a strong collection in Twain materials—both first editions and original materials,” Dowell said. “The signature image of the exhibit is Barry Moser’s portrait of Twain. This image comes from one of our newest collections with permission from the acclaimed Tennessee-born artist. We are looking forward to sharing this exhibit with Nashville and beyond.”

After the Nashville show, the exhibit will move to San Diego State University for a 19-week run from August through December. Before joining Vanderbilt in 2008, Dowell was the head of that university’s libraries. She led the charge to partner with the California university to develop the Twain exhibit that will feature holdings from both Vanderbilt and San Diego State.

Vanderbilt’s Mark Twain collection will be on display during Twain & Twang. It was donated by the late Dr. Marc H. Hollender, a longtime Twain aficionado who traced his love of the author to reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a boy.

Hollender’s gift to the library contains about 350 items. It includes first editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Hollender, a former chairman of the Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry, once said that his profession had nothing to do with his avocation. “I want to enjoy Mark Twain, not analyze him,” he said.

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