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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

Arts, Sports, Leisure

What do Americans do with their free time today? An obvious answer is the preoccupation with sports, as more than fifty percent of every age bracket in America occasionally watches broadcast or live-action sports. Included here are both amateur and professional athletes associated with tennis, hunting, boxing, soccer, racing (motor bikes, cars, and horses), and surfing, represented by Olympic swimming medalist Duke Kahanamoku, who popularized the sport worldwide.

One of the Library’s collecting priorities includes representing those who have contributed to the nation’s cultural life. Tina Turner is captured on stage, but John Lennon is shown more intimately lying on the floor next to Yoko Ono’s hospital bed. In studios, where the photographer has more control, Jim Henson poses with early versions of the Muppets, Martha Graham dances, and child prodigy Lorin Maazel, age 9, conducts.

“My idea of a great society is plenty of leisure,” postulated the great cartoonist Herbert Block, whose archive is also in the Library’s collection. Most of the “down time” photographs of ordinary citizens were made while subjects were enjoying their leisure activities, rather than posing in studios. This section features little “Davy Crocketts” seeking to recapture the Alamo, thousands of people on the beach at Coney Island, and Alexander Graham Bell’s family appreciating the unique tetrahedral kite that he designed for them.