The Brazos Forum began in 1985 as a way to encourage the study and the preservation of American decorative arts and history.
Each year that mission has continued, with each forum choosing a theme and providing an in-depth study on the subject over a two-day period.
Last year, however, the Brazos Forum took a new approach with a one-day format for its topic “Seaport Cities: Then and Now.”
Nancy Moore, this year’s chair for the Brazos Forum, said it was becoming harder to keep people coming back for the second day of talks. The decorative arts focus of Brazos Forum primarily appeals to women, she said, but as more women have entered the work force since the forum began, the number of those able to miss work to attend two days of talks has dwindled.
That was the reason for the switch to the one-day format, she said. This year the change goes further under the “Kaleidoscope: A World of Wonder” theme. No longer are speakers talking about the same subject. Three nationally recognized speakers will each discuss a different topic.
“It’s a varied program that’s not organized around one theme,” Moore said. “We’re hoping that new people will attend because it’s informative and on different topics.”
Two speakers will present their programs in the morning while the third is slotted for the afternoon on Oct. 24 at the Mayborn Museum’s SBC Theatre.
The forum will begin with the presentation “Thirty Years on the Ancients’ Path,” as G.B. Cornucopia, an avid amateur astronomer and park ranger for 30 years in Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, will give an interpretative talk about the Anasazi, or “Ancient Ones,” who disappeared around 1200 CE (Common Era, similar to A.D.) despite building an impressive civilization that covered 60,000 square miles.
Cornucopia came to Chaco to view the night sky and study the ancient people’s practices of astronomy. He was instrumental in creating Chaco’s Night Sky Program and establishing the first astronomical observatory in the National Park System.
Chaco was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2013.
The second speaker is Rosie Grayburn, a scientist in fraud prevention and restoration at Winterthur Museum in Delaware. She will present “Antiques Roadshow Meets CSI: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes.”
Grayburn, a chemist and conservation scientist, will provide tips on how to spot fraudulent pieces of art or collectibles, and the science behind determining their authenticity.
During the afternoon Paul F. Miller, curator of The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, will present “When Cottages were Palaces: America's Age of Elegance.”
He will focus on the homes and lifestyles of the rich and famous during the Gilded Age, including their private residences called “cottages,” but were actually mansions in Newport.
Miller also will discuss the Newport residents’ travels at that time, including those on the ill-fated Titanic. Later that afternoon the Titanic Exhibit, which is in the Mayborn Museum, will be available to visit at a reduced cost.
Brazos Forum offers scholarships to students who might have interest in listening to the presentations. Last year 76 high school and college students received scholarships to cover the ticket costs.
“For the young people we hope these presentations will pique their interest,” Moore said. “Last year was especially satisfying because they asked questions of the speakers.”
David A. Smith, a senior lecturer in American history at Baylor, will provide concluding remarks.
The event includes a luncheon on the mezzanine of the Mayborn Museum. Reservations are needed by Oct. 18 for the luncheon.
When, where: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 24 in the SBC Theatre of the Mayborn Museum, 1300 S. University Parks Drive
Cost: $75; luncheon is free to anyone attending Brazos Forum for the first time.
Reservations: Those planning to attend are encouraged to make reservations early.