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Exhibit, Events Celebrate Life on Two Wheels

May 6, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- It was less the invention of the wheel than the invention of the second wheel and the pole that connected them that changed the course of human history, according to "Life Turns on Two Wheels," an exhibit at Northwestern University Library running from April 29 through June 26.

The free and public exhibit on the main floor of University Library, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston, showcases advances in two-wheeled technology and includes related film screenings, lectures and events about two-wheeled vehicles, bicycles and bicycling.

"What can you do with a single wheel?" ask exhibit co-curators Roberto Sarmiento, head of the Transportation Library, and Russell Clement, head of University Library's art collection. "In technological terms, the jump from the cart to the chariot -- which was introduced by Indo-Europeans circa 2,000 B.C. – was equivalent to the jump from carriage to car."

Carts, Sarmiento explains, had heavy, solid-wood wheels and were pulled by oxen, making them anything but fleet. Chariots gave their users huge advantages in war and transportation by making use of speedy horses and lighter, spoke wheels.

Or, says Clement, consider the bicycle. A tool of the early women's movement, the bicycle gave women a way to rebel against the establishment and advocate for their rights. Evanston-based suffragist Frances Willard, who adopted the bicycle at age 53, once said, "If I am asked to explain why I learned the bicycle I should say I did it as an act of grace, if not of actual religion."

In addition to presenting historical materials, the exhibit will highlight the work of local organizations, including the World Bicycle Relief, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and The Recyclery, and be accompanied by the following programs on the Evanston campus:

Saturday, May 10: A bicycle double feature presented by Block Cinema in conjunction with the library offers free screenings of two bicycle cult-classics. Vittorio De Sica's "Bicycle Thief" and Tim Burton's "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" will be screened at 1 and 3 p.m., respectively, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 20 Arts Circle Drive.

Wednesday, May 14: Lee Brice, assistant professor of history at Western Illinois University, will deliver a lecture on "Chariots and Charioteering in the Ancient Roman World" from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Forum Room of Northwestern University Library.

Friday, May 16: To celebrate "Bike to Work Day," Northwestern University Library and the Athletics and Recreation Department will provide free bagels and refreshments for bicyclists from 8 to 10 a.m., at Northwestern's Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, 2311 Campus Drive. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Wilmette Bicycle & Sports Shop will hold bicycle mini-clinics on maintenance, repair, and other topics.

Monday, May 19: F. K. Day and Leah Missbach Day of World Bicycle Relief will discuss their organization's goal of providing independence and livelihood in developing countries through "The Power of Bicycles" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Forum Room of Northwestern University Library.

For further information, call (847) 467-5918 or e-mail c-roccaforte@northwestern.edu.
Topics: Campus Life