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Utah Museum of Natural History to Host “Memory” Exhibit and Lecture Series

January 5, 2004 — Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went in there? Do you forget the names of people you just met? Do you get to work and realize you forgot your lunch? Have you wondered why is it you can recall every note of the piano piece you learned when you were five, but can’t remember where you parked your car 30 minutes ago?

“Memory,” an exhibition developed by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, addresses these and other memory-related issues and includes personal, social, cultural, psychological and neurological perspectives. The highly interactive exhibit, which guides visitors through the labyrinth of memory, opens Jan. 17th at the Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah. On display in the museum’s Dumke Gallery, the exhibit is organized into eight sections: The Senses; Remembering What’s Meaningful; Forgetting; Faces; Remembering Without Thinking; The Brain; Personal Memory; and Shared Memory. Games, interactive activities and explanations are all part of the exhibit, which runs through April 25th. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Cost for admission is $6 for adults, $3.50 for children, ages 3 to12, and $3.50 for senior citizens. University students, faculty and staff with a current I.D. card are free.

Contrary to what most people think, memory is not like a tape recorder or video camera, capturing events, thoughts and feelings. Current research suggests that memories are constructed like jigsaw puzzles, with many shapes and pieces making up a memory: from what a person sees, hears, experiences and feels at a time; from what a person is told after an event or happening; and from suggestions, thoughts and implications, all filtered through perception, attitude and the self.

A 14-part lecture series on memory will parallel the spring exhibition. The series, featuring various aspects of memory and speakers with unique and interesting perspectives on the subject, is free and open to the public and will be held on Fridays, at noon, in the Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium, located on the University campus. (There will be no lecture on March 19, during spring break.) Hosted by the museum, and co-sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU), and the University of Utah, the lectures will begin on Jan. 16th, with a lecture titled “The Pitfalls of Memory: Memory Errors We All Make,” by University of Utah Psychology Professor Raymond P. Kesner. The series will run through Friday, April 23rd.

Kesner, a recipient of the U’s prestigious Distinguished Research Award, is a leading researcher in the realm of learning and memory. He has authored more than 140 publications and more than 30 chapters and books on the subject. His research interests are in the theoretical and applied aspects associated with the neurobiological basis of learning and memory in both animals and humans. Recently his work has concentrated on the development of animal models paralleling mnemonic symptomatology in brain-damaged patients.

The schedule of speakers and topics for the “Memory” lecture series is as follows:

Jan. 23rd: Eileen Hallet Stone, writer and media producer, “The Elaborate Art of the Oral History Interview.” Hallet Stone is the author of the books Missing Stories, which discusses the gathering of oral histories before they die, and Homeland in the West, Utah Jews Remember.

Jan. 30th: Bill Marcroft, U of U radio sports announcer, “Memories of the Rivalry Between the U of U and BYU.” Marcroft has been calling U of U sports for 37 years, including 38 NCAA basketball tournament games involving the Utes as well as six Utah football bowl games. Memorabilia from the U’s Athletics Department will be on display.

Feb. 6th: Darius Gray, African American author and historian, “Snapshots of the Lives of Former Slaves: The Freedman Bank Project.” The Freedman’s Bank Project is an LDS Church-produced CD-ROM database that contains information on approximately 500,000 people who opened an account with the Freedman’s Bank Savings and Trust Company, a Reconstruction-era institution.

Feb. 13th: John Reed, U of U professor of history, “Combat Photography and the Memory of WWII.” Reed has researched how photography impacts and triggers our memory of historical events, even if not experienced first-hand.

Feb. 20th: Kent Powell, editor, Utah Historical Quarterly, “Words Make Our Experience Last: Memory through Written and Oral History.” An associate instructor of history at Westminster College, Powell’s books include The Next Time We Strike: Labor in Utah’s Coal Fields 1900-1933, Splinters of a Nation: German Prisoners of War in Utah; Utah Remembers World War II and The Utah Guide.

Feb. 27th: Michael Dunn, advertising executive and media producer, “Memory of a Grizzly Bear Attack, Ten Years Later.” While training in Grand Teton National Park for a marathon, Dunn was suddenly attacked, then mauled, clawed, bitten and pounced on by a grizzly bear. Miraculously, he survived the first-ever bear attack in the 60-year history of the park.

March 5th: Hal Cannon, author, cowboy musician and folklorist, “The Echo of Western Songs: Why the Cowboy Sings.” Cannon is founding director of the Western Folklife Center and its National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada-now in its 20th year.

March 12th: Steve Olsen, associate managing director, Family and Church History Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “A Theology of Memory in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” An adjunct professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University, Olsen has coordinated a number of award-winning restorations of Mormon historic sites.

March 19th (Spring Break-no lecture)

March 26th: Greg Clark, U of U associate professor of bioengineering, “Memory: From Molecules to Mind.” Clark is approaches memory from a neurobiological perspective. His research has focused on the mammalian brain as well as simple organisms, including the sea slug, which has the largest nerve cells.

April 2nd: Ken Verdoia, KUED television senior producer, “Shadows & Light: History, Memory and the Utah Experience.” Verdoia is the recipient of more than 100 regional, national and international awards for journalistic and program excellence. His documentaries examine little-known chapters of western history and are among the most popular programs produced locally for public television.

April 9th: Shirley Ririe, founder Ririe Woodbury Dance Company, “A Major Dance Community in the Nation: How it Started.” Ririe was a professor of modern dance at the University, where she taught for 39 years. She has been a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts and serves on the National Advisory Committee for Young Audiences.

April 16th: Robert Hill, chair, U of U Department of Educational Psychology, “Is it Possible to Improve Your Memory Through Mnemonic Techniques?” Hill’s areas of interest include Alzheimer’s disease and its effects on caretakers, memory and aging-specifically the use of mnemonics to improve memory among the elderly.

April 23rd: Tom Schenkenberg, U of U associate professor, neurology, U of U School of Medicine, “The Evaluation of Memory Impairment in Neurological Conditions.” Schenkenberg has many years of clinical experience treating patients with memory problems. His research specialties are in neuropsychology and dementia.

For more information on the exhibit and/or lecture series, call 801-585-6369, or go to