Over a four-day period in June 2018, Mercury One hosted a temporary exhibition, titled Rights & Responsibilities, at Mercury Studios in Irving, Texas. This temporary exhibition focused on the practical interpretation of the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights in our modern society as well as the original intent of the Founding Fathers. The tour began with a behind-the-scenes look at Mercury Studios and a chance to see iconic Hollywood memorabilia. This led to Stage 19, where visitors could have an up-close and personal experience with various artifacts from the American journey.
The true heart of the exhibit started just beyond the doors of Stage 19, where visitors entered a darkened hallway filled with images of brutality. This was followed by a choice to either avoid the darkness of man and continue to the rest of the exhibit or to walk down the dark hall and confront man’s inhumanity.
As visitors exited the hallway, they were greeted by an image of Adolf Hitler surrounded by artifacts related to the Nazi regime, such as the armbands given to people the Nazis deemed “undesirable.” These disturbing pieces served as a reminder of modern-day instances of dangerous inhumanity in our world.
Like the pilgrims, our visitors were ready for an escape from tyranny and were shown a Geneva Bible from 1599. This Bible is a symbol of God’s light, and a reminder that the pilgrims sacrificed comfort for freedom. Next, visitors encountered the Liberty Tree, where revolutions were planned, and our nation was birthed.
Two documents were on display that are crucial to the rights of man: an engraved copy of a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address (on loan to Mercury One from Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum). Handwritten by Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln respectively, these documents capture the state of mind of two leaders burdened with the responsibility of fighting for human rights.
Despite our nation’s strong beginnings, the exhibit also explored times when America failed to protect the rights of certain groups of people such as African Americans, women, and religious minorities. Visitors looked at artifacts that broke down the Bill of Rights and explored where our successes and failures lie. When exiting the exhibit, visitors were invited to contemplate an important question: “If we don’t know where we came from, where will we go, and how will we get there?”