News Release 311

Celebrate Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site's museum Saturday, June 5

Volume 38-311 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Sue Holst
573-751- 6510

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MAY 25 2010 -- Celebrate the contributions of Missouri's most well known author at the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Mark Twain Memorial Shrine at Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site in Florida, Mo., on Saturday June 5. The celebration, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the site and is free and open to the public.

The museum at Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site was officially dedicated on June 5, 1960, and preserves and interprets the two-room cabin where Samuel L. Clemens was born in 1835. For the celebration on June 5, Thomas J. Gilding will portray Mark Twain and give insight into Twain as a teacher, author, humorist and riverboat pilot. Ralph Gregory, who is 100 years old, is expected to attend the event and share some reflections of his work as the historic site's first curator. An exhibit with early photos of the cabin; early preservation measures; the new museum's construction; and the June 5, 1960, dedication will be on display. Visitors can look through a few of the guest register books since 1917, including the one from the 1960 dedication to see who attended. Anyone with photos of the museum -- before or after the 1960 dedication -- is encouraged to bring them to the museum between June 5 and Oct. 15. These will be electronically scanned and will be added to an electronic album that will be made available Nov. 30, 2010, the 175th anniversary of Mark Twain's birth. Admission to the museum will be free for the event and refreshments will be available.

When the museum, or shrine, was dedicated in 1960, it was the largest single building that the Missouri State Park Board had undertaken in the state park system. The design was unique and endorsed by Mark Twain's daughter, Clara Clemens Samossoud, who felt it expressed her father's forward thinking. It includes a dramatic concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roof line that attracted the attention of the public even as it was being poured in 1959. More than 7,000 people, including representatives from 11 countries, attended the day-long dedication ceremony.  

In addition to the birthplace cabin, the museum interprets Twain's life through exhibits and audio-visual programs. The museum features first editions of Mark Twain's works, a handwritten manuscript of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," and furnishings from his Hartford, Conn., home.

This year marks several milestones associated with Mark Twain. In addition to the 50th anniversary of the historic site's museum, February was the 125th anniversary of the publication of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn;" April 21 was the 100th anniversary of his death; and Nov. 30 will be the 175th anniversary of his birth.

Mark Twain Birthplace is located at 37352 Shrine Road adjacent to the village of Florida in Mark Twain State Park, off Highway107 east of County Road U in Monroe County. For more information about the site or the event, contact the site at 573-565-3449 or the Department of Natural Resources at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com.

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