Jack Hitt is a contributing editor to the <em>New York Times Magazine</em> and <em>Harpers</em>. His work is <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/search?keys=jack%20hitt">frequently heard</a> on PRI's <em>This American Life</em>.
Jack Hitt says if you drill down into the American spirit to find out what makes Americans so American, you'll find it's the fact that we're all amateurs at heart. In his new book, Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character, he pinpoints the first American to use the amateur label to his advantage: Benjamin Franklin.
After years of bitter controversy, the <a href="http://www.barnesfoundation.org/">Barnes Foundation</a> opens the doors of its new location in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. Since 1922, the collection has been housed in the Philadelphia suburbs, where critics say the collection's owner would have wanted it to stay.
Credit Tom Crane / The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia
Albert Barnes built this gallery for his art collection in Merion, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, in 1922. He wanted his institution to be a school for art appreciation, not an ordinary museum.
Credit George Widman / AP
The lighting in the galleries of the new building (shown above) is a dramatic improvement over the lighting in the Merion building. But that's the biggest change; Barnes Foundation officials promised a Pennsylvania judge they would preserve the dimensions of the original galleries in the collection's new home.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP
Barnes Foundation officials say the new facility — with classrooms, a lecture hall and modern library — will help them better carry out the foundation's core educational mission. Above, the view of the new building from 21st Street.
The Barnes Foundation opens the doors of its new gallery in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. Its collection of paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and many more is now hanging in galleries designed to replicate those at the Barnes' old home in suburban Merion. The move follows a decade of bitter debate over the future of this multibillion-dollar collection.
Most Americans give politicians low marks for sincerity and see every decision they reach as a cold, poll-driven calculation. Often enough, it is. Politicians, after all, have asked pollsters where they should spend their summer vacations.
Yet when pundits and interest groups urge politicians to change their minds and they do, they're assailed for flip-flopping.
The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. is always a work in progress. Although it's more than a century old, and is being repaired from damage caused by last year's earthquake, it always makes room for new statues and carvings of people who inspire.
REVEREND DR. FRANCIS WADE: May God bless the eyes of all who see the likeness we dedicate this evening.
The star of John Irving's new novel, In One Person, is Billy Abbott. Billy is a character at the mercy of his own teenage crushes, which are visited upon by a whole repertory company of gender-bending characters.
It's a repertory company in the most literal sense, too. Billy spends many days backstage at the local theater — where gender can also fluctuate and where his family members are regulars.
[Roman Totenberg was a child prodigy who became a violin virtuoso, as well as a master teacher who passed along his command of craft and his love of music — and life — to thousands. He was also the man you wanted to sit next to at the table because he was so funny. Totenberg died this week at the age of 101, surrounded by loving family, friends and students. We asked his daughter, Nina Totenberg, for this remembrance. — Scott Simon]
When Hilary Mantel's new book opens, the spark has gone out of Henry VIII's second marriage. His roving eye leaves Anne Boleyn and begins to settle on Jane Seymour, another woman at court. The monarch doesn't go to a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer, not when Thomas Cromwell is his chief adviser.
Bring Up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and worldwide acclaim. Itis also the latest in a planned trilogy about Cromwell.