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By Eric Weld   Date: 8/13/10 Bookmark and Share

A Matter of Time

Kahn Institute Time Capsule to Become Part of Neilson Reading Room Wall; Public Installation Aug. 19

Time matters, explain organizing fellows of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute’s long-term project “Telling Time: Its Meaning and Measurement,” though we are not always aware of its impacts and importance.

The Kahn project, organized by Bosiljka Glumac, associate professor of geosciences, and Richard Lim, professor of history, involved 12 faculty fellows and seven student fellows last year in exploring the effects on all things of time’s perpetual passing, as well as the implications of temporality.

Time, of course, cannot be held still, but the “Telling Time” project will do its best to capture a moment of time in stasis when the project culminates with the installation of a time capsule representing the project. The capsule, a stainless steel cylinder 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep and 20 inches long, will be built into a wall being constructed as part of the new reading room on the first floor of Neilson Library. The installation will take place with a free, public ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m.

Project fellows began last April collecting items for the capsule, including rock samples , ancient coins and pottery shards used for dating demonstrations during the project. Some student fellows wrote personal letters to their future selves or to future Smith students for the capsule. It will also include a list of the project fellows and a group photo, as well as the project’s final report, written by Glumac and Lim.

Among the time capsule's contents: a group photo of the "Telling Time" fellows (click on image for enlarged view).

“Project fellows wanted to produce a tangible and enduring record of their joint discussions, the input of visiting scholars, and the specific research of individual fellows,” said Rick Fantasia, B. Richmond 1940 Professor of Sociology and director of the Kahn Institute. “They decided that a good way to do that would be to create a time capsule that would be sealed somewhere on campus, and would carry a record of their work into the future.”

In 50 years, during reunion weekend 2060, five of the student fellows from the Class of 2010 plan to attend their 50th reunion and retrieve and open the capsule, said Kara Noble, project and publicity administrator at the Kahn Institute.

Staff members in the Mortimer Rare Book Room and College Archives assisted with preparing the time capsule materials for long-term preservation, said Noble. The materials were then sent to Future Packaging and Preservation, a company in Covina, California, which packed and prepared the capsule, and will weld it shut before returning it to Smith for installation.

The time capsule is registered with the International Time Capsule Society, an organization at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Ga., that promotes the study of time capsules. Documentation of its installation and contents will be recorded in College Archives.


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