Volume II | December 12 2020
Planets align to create 'Christmas Star' last visible 800 years ago

Katherine Rosenberg- Douglas wrote in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune that “ On Dec. 21, the winter solstice, two planets will appear nearly aligned, resulting in an event or spectacle that is named the “Christmas Star.” The event is called a conjunction, said Shane Larson, associate director of Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.“Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn happen every 20 years and most aren’t very close at all. What’s special this year is they’re right, right next to each other,” said Larson. “These two planets have never been this close in the sky for 400 years so no one really knows what it’s going to look like because it hasn’t happened since 1623, in Galileo’s time. That kind of gives you a sense of the rarity of the event.

This is not just a once-in-a-lifetime event, this is a once-in-our-history since-we-built-the-telescope event.

German astronomer, Johannes Kepler, wrote in 1614 that he believed the 'star of Bethlehem' in the Nativity story could have been a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. To read the article please see HERE.

Photo of Van Gogh's Starry Night ( This painting has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York since 1941)
Northam Announces COVID-19 Restrictions as Cases Surge
The governor has introduced restrictions aimed at reducing cases in the state. That includes reducing the social gathering limit from 25 to 10 people. Northam says there’s light at the end of the dark COVID-19 tunnel: vaccinations and possible FDA approval expected this week.

As part of the new coronavirus restrictions announced by Gov. Ralph Northam in a press conference Thursday, the DMFAH is implementing a “modified stay-at-home choice for volunteers." Staff and interns will be manning the museum front desk and work in collections as well as continuing cleaning procedures. Only one staff, intern or volunteer will man the gallery on Craghead. We will maintain an entry of only five people for the gallery & the Swanson studio, and 10 people for the museum. We will also continue the practice of taking temperatures as people come through the door. The “modified stay-at-home choice for volunteers” will go into effect starting Tuesday, December 15.
The Night Before Christmas in 1836
The night before Christmas in 1836, an enslaved man named Jim made final preparations for his escape. As his enslavers, the Roberts family of Charlotte County, Virginia, celebrated the holiday, Jim fled west to Kanawha County. Jim may have obtained free papers, but beyond that, Jim’s fate, and that of his wife, is lost to history. Fragments of stories like Jim’s—of lives lived under duress—are scattered across archives, libraries, museums, historical societies, databases and countless other repositories, many of which remain uncatalogued and undigitized. All too often, scholars pick up loose threads like Jim’s, incomplete narratives that struggle to be sewn together despite the wealth of information available. Enslaved: Peoples of the Historic Slave Trade, a newly launched digital database featuring 613,458 entries (and counting), seeks to streamline the research process by placing dozens of complex datasets in conservation with each other. If, for instance, a user searches for a woman whose transport to the Americas is documented in one database, but whose later life is recorded in another, the portal can connect these details and synthesize them. Read the full article by Meilon Sully in the Smithsonian Magazine.
DMFAH Artist in Residence Veronica Jackson will do a Site Visit and Presentation on Wednesday, December 16
A Lunch and Community Leadership presentation by December Resident Artist Veronica Jackson
Exhibition Narratives: That’s Pops's Money and Other Tales of Visualizing Invisibility
Veronica will be presenting her past art projects to a small group of community leaders in a presentation from 1-3pm. Due to the latest Covid restrictions, we are asking people to attend by "Zoom." We will have a very limited number of "in-person" attendees. We would like to invite our community leaders from the River District/ Duke / DCC / Averett / Parks and Rec / The Chamber, as well as smaller civic groups, (i.e. The Old West End) to join us via Zoom. Please contact Elsabé Dixon for information regarding a zoom invite. elsabe@danvillemuseum.org
Introducing our new DMFAH Intern Tomi-Lauren McGinnis
Tomi is a sophomore, double major studying History and Museum & Heritage Studies at Randolph College. She has held a 4.0 GPA throughout her entire collegiate career and is part of two NCAA D3 teams, volleyball and indoor track for the Wildcats. Tomi is part of Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society and the student assistant to the history department. Since college has been remote this year, and she is back home in Danville, she has taken on history opportunities in her home town: being a remote internship with the head of Randolph College history department, researching over one hundred museums in VA. The opportunity to work at The Brick shows her passion for fitness. She spends spare time with her favorite three little boys, whom she babysits. Tomi says: “Now I have the incredible opportunity to be an intern at DMFAH. In my free time, when I am not running myself crazy with sports, school, or work: my hobbies include: knitting, early dinners to Pinos on Westover Drive with my boyfriend, and going thrift-shopping.” 
Happy Hanukkah
Beginning Friday night, December 10,2020, many in our community participated in a quiet Hanukkah observance, including the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah (also called a hanukkiyah); singing and playing special songs and games (dreidel); and eating foods prepared in oil including latkessufganiyot, bimuelos (fried dough puffs) and keftes de prasas (leek patties). Hanukkah, known by some as the Jewish Festival of Lights, is an eight-day commemoration of re-dedication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.
Bringing Art, History Exhibitions and Handmade as well as "interactive" Gifts to you.
The DMFAH gift shop is filled with great Holiday gift ideas.
“Teddy the Bear” and “Museum Mouse” offer young artists the opportunity to explore the contemporary conceptual art processes of artists such as Katarina Fritsch and take inspiration from works likeSmiling King Bear” by Okunda. We also have a beautiful selection of handmade ceramic and wooden high craft items for that particular one of a kind gift. Our History and Art lover baskets are selling like hotcakes – get one before they are all sold out!!! If you prefer to stay indoors after the governor's COVID19 ordinance, that is no problem, please peruse our online gift shop HERE and support the museum this holiday season.

THIS WEEKEND: Swanson Studio will be open again this Sunday, December 13 from 2pm - 5pm for ceramic and paper art demonstrations.
Jonathan Scollo has handmade ceramic vessels for sale.