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Timeline of a century on display at Marvin Hall

Monday, May 06, 2013

LAWRENCE — A panoramic, graphical timeline of events of the past century will be on display in Marvin Hall for the next few weeks. The 100-foot-long, 6-foot-high collage seamlessly documents hundreds of cultural milestones, starting with the launch of the Titanic in 1912 and ending with the Boston Marathon bombings of a few weeks ago.

Tim Hossler, visiting assistant professor of design, created it for the 100th anniversary of architectural education at KU. He used nearly 600 images to capture the ever-shifting cultural landscape of the past 10 decades, incorporating some period images from KU and its architecture program. It also lists the names of more than 5,000 KU architecture graduates beneath the year they received their diplomas.

Hossler, who once worked as photographer Annie Leibovitz’s art director, portrayed the past using a huge variety of subject matter. He tells the tale through colorful Vogue covers, photos of iconic structures like the Empire State building, inventions such as the Polaroid camera, and images of stars like Buster Keaton and Prince. They’re all juxtaposed over expected images such as the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.

“The project reinforced to me that history is molded by the people who tell it,” said Hossler. “This isn’t a complete history, but my image choices let me tell my version of it. Since the timeline is to scale, with a year equaling about 8 inches, you can really get a sense of how much time elapsed between events.”

He notes that even photos of KU’s architecture students can tell a powerful tale. “An early 1960s class photo is comprised of almost all men, all dressed in dark suits and ties. There is one woman seated in the front row center, all dressed in white. That says a lot about the times, which would change very soon.”

Because the timeline is printed on paper, and humidity and light will cause it to deteriorate, an exact end-date for its display will not be established. John Gaunt, dean of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning said, “We will keep it up as long as it holds together. We hope through the summer.”

“It was never intended to be permanent,” added Hossler.

The School’s centennial celebration drew more than 500 people to campus the weekend of April 27. Among them was alumnus Smit Vajaranant, who traveled from Bangkok, Thailand, and Robert Hess of the Class of 1949.

Photos of the timeline can be viewed here and here.