Previous Special Events

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the year when Europe faced what Winston Churchill memorably called “the gathering storm” — a period of escalating political tensions, diplomatic crises, and armed aggressions that culminated in the German blitzkrieg of Poland and the outbreak of World War II.

Hal Wert, professor of history at the Kansas City Art Institute, examines the key events of 1939, a year that saw Fascist victory in the Spanish Civil War, the final dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, and the Russian invasion of Finland. In the U.S. the economy looked as if it might emerge from Depression, Hollywood produced some of its greatest films, the New York World’s Fair wowed audiences from around the globe, and the ailing Lou Gehrig retired from baseball.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Trumpeter Miles Davis once said: "You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker."

Saxophone virtuoso Charlie "Bird" Parker — a Kansas City native — began playing professionally in his early teens, became a heroin addict at 16, changed the course of music, and then died when only 34 years old. For his new book on Parker, Chuck Haddix weaves together firsthand accounts from those who knew the legendary jazzman and in-depth research into previously overlooked historical sources to create a compelling narrative portrait of a tragic genius.

Sunday, January 19, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Called by some “the Citizen Kane of silent cinema,” Sunrise was the last masterpiece made before sound took over, a bold visual experiment seething with human emotions. Directed by German-born F.W. Murnau (whose silent vampire classic Nosferatu was screened in 2012 as part of this series), it’s the simple story of a man (George O’Brien), his wife (Janet Gaynor), and the seductive woman from the big city (Margaret Livingston) who threatens their rural happiness.

Friday, January 17, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Enjoy a silent, one-man circus act as pantomimist Richard Renner entertains with physical comedy, pratfalls, and a marriage of circus talents with everyday life.

This program is appropriate for all ages.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

In the face of federal gridlock, economic stagnation, and fiscal turmoil, power in the United States is shifting away from Washington and toward our major metropolitan areas.

In a discussion of his new book, The Metropolitan Revolution, Brookings Institution Vice President Bruce Katz describes how the emerging metropolitan-led "next economy" will produce more and better jobs driven by innovation, exports, and sustainability.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For nearly a quarter of a century, journalist and educator John C. Tibbetts spent most of his weekends hobnobbing with actors and filmmakers on Hollywood press junkets.

But he did more than just interview his famous subjects. With ink and watercolors, Tibbetts created portraits of the famous folk with whom he visited. And his subjects almost invariably autographed the finished work.

Tibbetts will discuss the creation of these portraits — featured in the Library’s current exhibit, Stargazing — and share stories about many of his celebrity encounters in a talk complementing the exhibit Stargazing, which remains on display through January 31, 2014, at the Central Library.

Sunday, January 12, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

A free series of films by Alfred Hitchcock who used film to explore his own neuroses and phobias, in the process revealing the psychological complexities we all share.

A seminal film for Hitchcock both artistically and thematically, Notorious stars Ingrid Bergman as the “kept woman” of a cultured sophisticate (Claude Rains) who after World War II has relocated with his fellow Nazis to Brazil. She is recruited by a cynical American agent (Cary Grant) to inform on her lover, thus putting her life in danger. What’s more, both men are in love with her.

Friday, January 10, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The folks behind the Kansas City FilmFest lend insight into the world of animation through a variety of old-fashioned, film-related crafts and children’s film presentations.

This program is appropriate for grades K-6.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

On January 8, 1815 — 199 years ago — the vaunted British Army suffered an epic defeat by makeshift American forces under the command of Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in what became the closing act of the War of 1812. Jackson’s remarkably improbable victory, which took place two weeks after the peace treaty ending the war had been signed, brought him national acclaim and led directly to his election to the presidency in 1828.

Richard Barbuto, deputy director of the department of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, delves into this triumph of American arms, the last time U.S. and British forces ever fought against each other.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What if Adolf Hitler had realized his dream of an art career and never turned to politics? What if Judas had saved Jesus of Nazareth? What if Ho Chi Minh had leveraged his experience as a cook in a Harlem restaurant into a corporate empire selling oven-ready dessert pastries? Or if Benjamin Franklin had become a clergyman? Or if Napoleon had kept Louisiana for the French?

Phong Nguyen, author of the new book Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History, reimagines the biographies of a dozen of history’s heroes and villains, and explores how the world would be a far different place.