From her hotly debated beginnings to her decades-long role as a pathway for adventurers, migrant workers, post-war veterans, tourists, hippies and sentimental souls, Route 66 has fascinated and engaged us, and compelled us to follow her beaten, crumbling path. Conceived in honor of the 90th anniversary of Route 66, a new exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum, Route 66: Radiance, Rust, and Revival on the Mother Road, celebrates the art, history and popular culture of the iconic Mother Road.
Created by Albuquerque Museum's Curator of History, Deb Slaney, this exhibition offers an exciting opportunity to experience the beauty of culture of "our" piece of the road. According to Slaney, "the Southwestern leg of the route is particularly intriguing."
"Too often the history of Route 66 in Albuquerque has been overlooked," says Slaney, "even though our city sits near the center of the Southwestern leg of the route and boasts, at 16 miles, the longest single-city urban stretch of the highway in the nation. We are also the only place on the Mother Road where the highway crosses itself. Indeed the very re-routing of Route 66 to the east-west alignment was a political scandal, but shaved time and miles off the odometers of road-weary travelers and their automobiles. This exhibition explores the creation, decline, and contemporary revival of Route 66 in New Mexico and the Albuquerque area, set in the context of significant events of national importance and enhanced by personal stories from Albuquerque area residents."
Collections include works of art from lenders across the country including the Autry National Center and the San Jose State University's Steinbeck Center, as well the collections of the Albuquerque Museum and other New Mexico museums, and private lenders. Key objects in the exhibit include neon signs from Oden Chevrolet and the El Vado Motel, a set of six Burma shave signs, works of art by Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha, Roy Rogers' guitar and cowboy boots, and the cover illustration from Jack Kerouac's book, On the Road.
Informative displays will share stories of the road, and visitors will metaphorically travel the road through art, memorabilia, poetry, literature, music, film and television.
There will be many exciting ways for visitors to drive down memory lane. A hands-on component of the exhibit will focus on the family road trip, recreating the experience of traveling in the iconic Teardrop Camper and providing ideas for your own Route 66 road trips. Families can plan to attend a Sock Hop in May and a movie night in June.
The exhibition Route 66: Radiance, Rust, and Revival on the Mother Road is expected to draw significant numbers of local visitors as well as people from other states and countries who love the drama of the road. This exhibit compliments events all over the city - and the country - which will also be celebrating our unique relationship with the Mother Road and show the benefits of preserving this historic landmark.
In particular, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque is hosting a concurrent exhibition called America's Road: The Journey of Route 66 and the KiMo Theatre will be presenting a series of Route 66 themed movies.
The exhibit opens May 14.
For more information, call Albuquerque Museum at 243-7255.