Hey, do you need an outdoor COVID safe activity? Have you ever heard the expression “go fly a kite” and been completely confused? Supposedly, founding father Ben Franklin flew a kite and discovered electricity. In the 18th and 19th centuries the US Weather Service used kites to raise instruments for atmospheric experiments. What does a kite have to do with Niagara Falls? Did you know that a kite carried the lead wire across the 800-foot chasm that led to the building of the world’s first railroad suspension bridge? And get this…in 1822 a schoolmaster named George Peacock used a pair of kites to pull a carriage at speeds up to twenty miles per hour.
Go fly a kite…indeed.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Old World Wisconsin is currently closed. However, in years past the Historical Society would kick off the arrival of spring by hosting events featuring the kite in all its historical and contemporary glory. That said, you can still fly a bit of fabric or paper by creating one of your own for some socially distant fun.
In this archival edition of Radio Chipstone, contributor gianofer fields explores the lofty history of kites with the help of Cait Dallas, Curator and Exhibit Designer at Old World Wisconsin’s German Farm site.
Dallas says that while we think of kites as playthings, history tells us they were not always about fun and games.
About the Host:
gianofer (JON nah fer) fields is an Art Historian and Material Culture contributor and curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is hosted by the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the Chipstone Foundation; a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.
About the Guest:
Cait Dallas is a Curator and Exhibit Designer at Old World Wisconsin’s German Farm site.
Image: Cait Dallas, courtesy of gianofer fields
This segment comes from the Radio Chipstone Archives of WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. See here.