Tag Archives: mementos

Mementos become muses for photographer Michael Hughes

Photographer Michael Hughes has amassed an arsenal of photographs documenting souvenirs worldwide. “I go anywhere in the world, buy a cheap souvenir and I hold the souvenir in front of the object it’s depicting,” says Hughes.

Based in Berlin, Germany, he has been shooting editorial and commercial assignments for more than 30 years, but the seed for the souvenir project took root in 1999 while shooting for a Finnish newspaper in the Rhine River valley on a very dreary day.

From his perch high on the Lorelei — a rock famous known for its mermaid who would lure sailors to their death — he pulled a postcard out of his pocket with the same view, lined it up in his viewfinder and captured “the one.”

“It was magical, like looking through a window” says Hughes. “You look through it, behind it, at it. I knew this could be the beginning of something.”

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Photos courtesy of Michael Hughes

He’s tackled the most iconic spots in the world, from Times Square in New York City to the Egyptian pyramids. He also put a new spin on the must-have snapshot in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

“My wife found a rainbow-colored lollipop in the shape of the tower,” he says about one of his favorite finds. In the corresponding photo, his daughter, Lea, is pictured licking it in front of the real thing.

Since being discovered on Flickr, the Souvenir series has been featured in National Geographic and  Popular Photography magazines and Hughes was asked to shoot an advertising campaign for TAM airlines in Brazil.

His work is also available for purchase on his website, www.hughes-photography.eu. The photographs make great souvenirs themselves, whether you’ve been to the places or not.

As for the actual trinkets, Hughes keeps most of them in a box, while some adorn the shelves of his apartment. Others just didn’t make it back home, including what he says was the most unusual: a windmill that plays “Tulips from Amsterdam,” while rotating its vanes and lighting up.

“I gave it to the guy at Schiphol airport who checks in the Avis hire cars because I had no space in my luggage.”

Maybe he’ll donate a few to the Souvenir Museum on of these day . . .

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Filed under Europe, Novelty, Statue

Woodrow Wilson House extends exhibition of presidential mementos

Artillery Shell

Cracked artillery shell painted by French artist Émile Gallois (1882-1965). The painting depicts the town of Pont-à-Mousson in Lorraine, France. Strategically situated on the Moselle River, Pont-à-Mousson was the scene of heavy fighting during World War I. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

What do you get the president who has it all?

Ideas abound at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C., which has extended its exhibit of 101 treasures from around the world through January 17, 2010. Included in the exhibition are an impressive collection of gifts, curios, and awards, many of which were presented by foreign dignitaries over the course of President Wilson’s two terms in office.

Among the treasures on display is a hand-painted French faience platter, weighing 32 pounds, presented during Wilson’s historic trip to Europe in 1918-1919. A stained glass medallion, also from France, features medieval glass salvaged from the Cathedral of Rheims, which was damaged by German artillery fire during World War I. Hand-painted porcelain plates, tributes from the King and Queen of Belgium, depict peaceful scenes of Belgium before the war. Elaborate gold and silver “freedom caskets” acted as offerings from the grateful people of Britain.

A lavish collection of gifts of state from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), including crowns, javelins, and a lion’s mane cape, were presented to President Wilson by the first Ethiopian diplomatic mission to the United States in 1919. Two sets of samurai armor were gifts from Japan. Other treasures include intricate ivory scrimshaws, examples of Inuit art, porcelain, silver and a beaded belt rumored to have been made by Pocahontas—an ancestor of Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Wilson.

Check out more photos of items in the exhibit here.

Wilson Peak rock

The top of Wilson Peak in the French Alps. Presented to President Wilson by the city of Chamonix, France in 1918. The mountain, formerly bearing the name of German explorer Dr. Piltscher, was renamed Wilson Peak by the Association of Guides and the Municipal Council of Chamonix on August 15, 1918. During the ceremony the American flag was planted on top of the mountain and at dusk the glacier crevices were illuminated by fireworks. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

Silver Pendant Head piece

Triangular silver pendant headpiece with silver tassels. This headpiece was among the gifts presented to President and Mrs. Wilson by the first Abyssinian (Ethiopian) mission to the U.S. in July 1919. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

Micronesian fan

Tortoise shell and coconut fiber fan from the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. A traditional Micronesian handicraft, fans of this kind were used as personal accessories or for fanning the embers of a fire. Photo courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson House.

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Filed under Authentic, D.C., North America, Souvenir, Uncategorized, United States, Washington