Phase four of Cronkite Exhibit to be ‘Out of this World’

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As a wise man once said, “The profession of journalism ought to be about telling people what they need to know—not what they want to know.” This man was the most trusted man in America. This man was Walter Cronkite

Western is home to a museum that pays tribute to Walter Cronkite’s life-long accomplishments. The museum holds various displays, including a replica of Cronkite’s CBS newsroom as well as a timeline of his life. Soon, however, there will be even more.

Gordon Mapley, Dean and Executive Director of Western Institute, has played an active roll in obtaining items for the museum. 

“The Briscoe Museum in Texas, which has a number of items that belonged to Walter Cronkite, did some remodeling. They have been a partner with us all along in this; they have let us borrow some things from them the last few years,” Mapley said. 

In addition to the items from the Briscoe Museum, the museum also holds other valuables of the renowned journalist, generously donated by Cronkite’s daughter, Kate Cronkite.

University President Robert Vartabedian was pleased with the overall support and donations from the Briscoe Museum as well as the Cronkite family.

“Between the Cronkite family and the University of Texas, Briscoe Center for American History, who have both been very, very generous with us, we just have a lot of one-of-a-kind artifacts that we’re displaying in the memorial,” Vartabedian said.

According to Mapley, the major addition to phase 4 of renovations to the exhibit will be a representation of Apollo 11. The display is expected to be completed  by Nov. 4, in conjunction with the celebration of Cronkite’s 100th birthday.

“Most of the work of art is being done by Eric Fuson, who is our artist of residence. We will see a huge plume coming out of the floor.  At the very top where the skylights are, you will see a little model of Apollo 11. The base will look like the moon. [It will be] a representation of the flight,” Mapley said.

Additional kiosks will also be a key player in the phase 4 renovations. Each Kiosk will be placed outside the theater, giving teasers for each of the three Cronkite showcase productions.

Mapley continued, “Right from the beginning, when the President and I first talked about the Walter Cronkite memorial, one of the things that I thought we should do is to put three different components into the kiosk.”

The first two components are complete and based on stories told by Cronkite through the years. Currently, the work of art on the wall in the museum includes 39 stories that Walter Cronkite reported on. For each of those 39 stories, there is a matching icon on the kiosk. If visitors push the icon, they will hear Walter Cronkite give the news report about that event.  A second component is that visitors can hear Walter Cronkite reflect on that event in a video series he did several years later.

The third component, which is in progress and needs editing, is a synopsis of the historical context surrounding these events so that visitors can understand their relevance in history. Steve Greiert, professor emeritus of history, wrote longer versions of these items and is slated to edit them down to 20-40 second summaries to be available at the kiosks.