The Emerson Gallery began its final year of programming by opening a recently unearthed time capsule from 1871, so it is perhaps fitting that the last Emerson Gallery event of the year was the official dedication of a new time capsule to be opened on the occasion of Hamilton College’s Tercentennial in 2112. The dedication ceremony featured remarks by President Joan Hinde-Stewart, Dean of the Faculty Patrick Reynolds, and Student Assembly President Rachel Bristol ’13, all of whom read from letters that will be included in the finished capsule.
Their letters provided a snapshot of the College in its bicentennial year, detailing admissions statistics and the breadth of academic programs that the College offers. Dean Reynolds’ letter focused on the state of the faculty and student body with a particular focus on scholarly achievement, while Bristol’s highlighted the environmental concerns that are currently plaguing the nation. In addition to her own letter, Bristol read Student Assembly Vice-President Tara Huggins’ ’14 letter, which provided a lighthearted look at Hamilton’s social life.
At the end of the ceremony, Associate Professor of Russian Frank Sciacca and Curator of the Emerson Gallery Susanna White carefully packed the capsule’s contents into the stainless steel container.
“We’re interested in Hamilton not just as a unit, but as a place in the world,” Sciacca said.
The components of the capsule consequently highlight life on and off the Hill: in addition to numerous campus publications and a copy of the 2011 first-year common reading, the capsule also includes one of Clinton Pottery’s ubiquitous mugs, a Time magazine retrospective on the year 2011, and even a piece of the Berlin Wall.
The capsule will also include an original work for solo oboe composed by Professor of Music Sam Pellman. The piece, titled Lament on Paradise Lost, was an adaptation of a medieval plainsong that Pellman generated using a computer algorithm, an apt metaphor for the fusion of traditional and new technologies that is so integral to 21st century life. Pellman’s piece will be included in the capsule in the form of a written score and a DVD performance.
The most enduring element of the time capsule, however, is perhaps the most intangible: the feeling of being a part of a unique history that has already stretched back for two full centuries. In the closing line of her letter, Huggins perhaps captured this feeling best: “Let your legacy live on and never forget all of the great moments you shared while you were at Hamilton,” she wrote.