Shroud Experts Will Be Turin Richmond 

Street Talk

Shroud Experts Will Be Turin Richmond
It's Not A Small World (Of Mirth) After All
Some VCU Profs Upset Over Pay Change
Poe Museum May Get Morgan Exhibit in 2000
Art 180 Plants Rocks Against Racism

Shroud Experts Will Be Turin Richmond


Shroud of Turin International Research Conference -- Information on the event.

The Shroud of Turin -- Official shroud Web site.

When people talk about the great historical attractions Richmond has to offer, it's usually in reference to the Civil War.

But a center devoted to the study of a historical artifact of a vastly different order will be the big draw to Richmond in June: The Shroud of Turin, the mysterious cloth that some believe wrapped, and was marked with an image of Jesus after his crucifixion.

Bryan Walsh, executive director at the Shroud of Turin Center at Mary Mother of the Church Abbey on River Road, is organizing a Shroud conference scheduled for June 18-20.

Walsh says that he expects about 30 internationally renowned Shroud scholars on hand for the Shroud of Turin International Research Conference, and as many as 400 attendees.

Among the presenters and panelists for the symposium are the authors of books including "The Blood And The Shroud: New Evidence That The World's Most Sacred Relic Is Real," "Unlocking The Secrets Of The Shroud," and "The Cross And The Shroud: A Medical Inquiry Into The Crucifixion."

"The combination of putting all these scientists in one place makes this one of the largest research conferences ever held on the Shroud of Turin in the U.S.," Walsh says.

Walsh says the evidence shows that the Shroud wrapped a crucified man at about the time Jesus was crucified, and "having evaluated all that science, the image-creating process is still unknown."

While Walsh believes that the Shroud "was probably Jesus' burial cloth," he hopes even the unconvinced will attend his conference. "We believe it's up to people to make up their own minds," Walsh says.

Even though carbon dating testing on the Shroud determined that it dated from the 14th century, some scientists have argued that the testing process was flawed.

There is an admission fee to the conference and registration is required. For more information, call 784-3366. — Mark Stroh

It's Not A Small World (Of Mirth) After All

Dr. Seuss meets Pee-Wee's Playhouse?

That's how Plan 9 Music owner Jim Bland describes the new World of Mirth, which will be opening this summer at 3005 W. Cary St. in the old Groom's Corner storefront.

Bland and World of Mirth owner Kathryn Harvey have become partners in the new store, which will preserve the eclectic, fun feel of the Carytown gift and novelty shop while introducing a new line of merchandise — children's toys.

The store is considering two new slogans, Harvey says, either "World of Mirth — Greatest Toys and Gifts on Earth," or "World of Mirth — Toys for Kids and Kids at Heart."

The new store is about 3,400 square feet, almost five times larger than World of Mirth's current storefront at 2925 W. Cary.

Designer Chris McCray and architect Walter Parks, the same team that designed Granite on Grove, are retooling the former Groom's Corner. The exterior of the store will have a "contemporary circus" look, McCray says, and the inside will be admittedly "surreal" with "some moving parts, and lots of cartoonish organic forms." The interior of the store will be one open floor with different levels.

Harvey, who opened World of Mirth in Carytown more than five years ago, says she came up with the idea of expanding into toys after trying to find interesting toys for her 2-year-old daughter, Stella, and being disappointed by the offerings at the big chain stores.

She promises there will be unusual toys, fun toys, "educational toys, multicultural toys, just different things to challenge the senses." — Richard Foster

Some VCU Profs Upset Over Pay Change

Despite vocal protests by some faculty members, Virginia Commonwealth University President Eugene Trani has announced that all professors will be paid on a 12-month schedule. This decision eliminates the choice of receiving paychecks only during the nine-month academic year.

Two years ago, the school announced it would be ending the optional pay plan in which professors receive 18 pay checks with a higher amount of carry-home pay per check but go without pay for three months. Twelve-month employees receive 24 pay checks a year.

The school granted a one-year extension of the program last year, which expires this spring.

In a letter written to Faculty Senate President Terry Oggel last month, Trani said the move to 12-month pay for all employees will result in "enhanced efficiency."

About 100 of the university's 600 professors currently participate in the nine-month pay plan. Some have voiced displeasure over losing the option.

One who's unhappy is Bob Andrews, an associate professor in VCU's school of business and chair of the school of business' faculty council. He says that having larger paychecks allows him to have more money to invest.

At current interest rates, he estimates that he will lose 1 to 2 percent of his annual salary in lost investments. Over a 30-year career, he could lose a year's salary, he says. He also feels that Trani ignored faculty members in making the decision and didn't present figures on whether the university would actually see any cost benefits from eliminating the nine-month pay plan.

"A lot of people feel it's something we earned. Not getting paid for three months for something we've worked for is not appropriate," Andrews says. "I've got a son at VCU. Is VCU willing to let me wait three months to pay my bills? They want their money up front from me but they want to hold my money until later on." — R.F.

Poe Museum May Get Morgan Exhibit in 2000

Once upon a week quite dreary, while the Edgar Allan Poe Museum labored, weak and weary, it lost its shot at displaying many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten Poe lore.

Well, sort of, anyway.

The Poe museum learned early this month that it would not receive the Morgan Library's exhibit of more than 50 rare Poe manuscripts, letters and other items in time for the 150th anniversary of Poe's death on Oct. 7 as hoped.

Instead, the New York-based repository of J. Pierpont Morgan's personal collection of art and literature will likely lend the exhibit to the Poe museum in 2000, according to the museum's executive director, John Moon.

The museum has been negotiating for months with the Morgan Library to borrow the acclaimed exhibit, "Poe: The Ardent Imagination," which premiered in January and will be on display at the library through May 9.

Some of the items on exhibit include rare daguerreotypes, handwritten scrolls that Poe used for public readings of his works, and a letter written by his mother-in-law, who was also his aunt, lamenting the death of her "dear Eddie."

For the anniversary this fall, the Poe museum is planning the first International Poe Conference, which will be held at the Jefferson Hotel. Scholars from around the world are expected to present papers on topics such as Poe's creation of the modern detective and science-fiction stories.

And the museum is also planning an exhibit this fall about the facts behind Poe's 1849 death in Baltimore and the various theories and myths surrounding it. — R.F.

Art 180 Plants Rocks Against Racism

Maybe you've seen one near Bandito's, or on the lawn surrounding the Lee Monument, or in Shockoe Slip or Carytown. Painted, yellow rocks, about the size of a basketball, emblazoned with the words "eliminate racism."

The rocks came out of the YWCA's "Eliminating Racism Day," an evening program the Y hosted April 14 to discuss prejudice and brainstorm strategies to combat racism.

The Y, working with student volunteers from the VCU Adcenter and Art 180, a nonprofit group that encourages children to express themselves through art, came up with the rock project. Kids ages 2 to 9 who attended the conference were given about 40 small, palm-sized rocks and six larger ones to decorate. The kids were asked to distribute their small rocks throughout the community last week, and at the same time Y volunteers placed the larger rocks at six sites: The Lee Monument, Bandito's, Carytown, the Slip, the Y and a local elementary school.

Marlene Paul, co-director of Art 180, says that the rock project was designed to take the anti-racism conference outside of the Y, and "take their messages out into the community."

"Maybe people will be intrigued by these rocks, and stop and look at them, and think about what they are trying to communicate," Paul says. — M.S.

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