State Historical Society celebrates Mark Twain

Friday, March 12, 2010 | 2:10 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — To honor the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death, the State Historical Society is hosting the exhibition "Mark Twain & Tom Benton: Pictures, Prose, and Song".

The exhibit will feature artwork by Tom Benton, illustrator of many of Twain’s novels, including watercolors and illustrations featured in Twain's work.

Other Twain things to do

  • Paul Anthony Brick Lecture Series, 4 p.m., March 17 to 19, Jesse Wrench Auditorium
  • Concert reading of "Sam and Laura" by Ron Powers, 7 p.m., March 18, Memorial Union Stotler Lounge
  • "The American Musical Landscape in the Time of Twain," 10 a.m., March 20, Reynolds Alumni Center
  • "Seeing, Selling, and Sanctifying the Mark Twain Birthplace (1835-1959)," 11 a.m., March 20, Reynolds Alumni Center
  • Twain authors panel discussion, 1 p.m., March 20, Reynolds Alumni Center


Joan Stack, curator of the society's art collection said both Twain and Benton represented the "common Missouri man."

“They were kindred spirits,” Stack said, “They represented the common person, not the movers and shakers and the rich and famous.”

Twain’s legacy in literature is substantial. MU English professor Tom Quirk said Twain’s book "Huckleberry Finn" paved the way for important future literary works.

“Can’t really imagine books like "To Kill A Mocking Bird" without Huck Finn,” Quirk said.

Also on display will be first editions of some of Twain’s novels, one of Twain’s personal tobacco pipes, a costume exhibit and some of Benton’s original music.  Benton invented a special notation for the harmonica that is still used.

This is all part of the College of Arts and Science's celebration of Mark Twain’s death, “100 Marking Twain.” There are other events taking place on the MU campus and the Columbia Public Library.

The costume portion will be available for viewing only during the first week of the exhibition. The costumes are part of the department of textile and apparel management’s historic costume collection. Stack said the visual aid of the clothing will make the art stand out.

“It brings the artwork to life” Stack said.

The exhibit opens Saturday and is free of charge. It will commence with a reception at 5 p.m., which is open to the public. It will run through Aug. 20.


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