From Jim Asher, the world's leading authority on Emmett Lee Dickinson:
Recently I traveled to New York City to conduct research surrounding the sometimes steady, sometimes volatile relationship between Emily Dickinson and Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request).
I visited various sites around the city, but my main destination was an exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum called “I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson.” Details surrounding my trip and extensive research can be found HERE.
After completing exhaustive work at the Morgan (and after similar investigative examinations at the Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum), I did what every other serious researcher and/or every museum-goer does: I exited through the gift shop. As a matter of fact, at the Morgan, I purchased a copy of The Networked Recluse – the Connected World of Emily Dickinson (below left) – published to accompany the exhibit at the Morgan – to add to the collection at the celebrated Emmett Lee Dickinson Library in historic Washerst, PA (the birthplace of Emmett Lee Dickinson) (below right).
Above: All of the Dickinson stuff in the Morgan Library's gift shop.
So once again it worked – the “exit through the gift shop” strategy, the very strategy first conceived by Emmett Lee Dickinson, and later immortalized in “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” the 2010 film about (and possibly by) graffiti artist Banksy.
Dickinson first wrote about the “exit through the gift shop” concept in his now-classic poem “’Tis customary as you part” (below on the left). Dickinson’s strategem not only inspired museums around the world to adopt the approach, but it also inspired third cousin Emily to pen her poem “’Tis customary as we part” (before on the right).
Of course, an early adopter of Dickinson’s “exit through the gift shop” strategy was, in fact, the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (before it burned down in the raging inferno that devastated historic Washerst on New Year’s Eve in 2015; information about that calamity is HERE). The museum tantalized Dickinson fans and lovers of poetry with a whole host of poetry-related gift items as they exited the museum. A catalog of the available items is HERE.
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
'Tis customary as you part
A trinket – to purchase –
It helps to stimulate our growth
When Guests shop with purpose –
'Tis varied haul – for the various tastes –
For Patrons – exiting through –
The Gift Shop with the single Aim
Of our Eclectic Loot –
By Emily Dickinson:
'Tis customary as we part
A trinket – to confer –
It helps to stimulate the faith
When Love be afar –
'Tis various – as the various taste –
Clematis – journeying far –
Presents me with a single Curl
Of her Electric Hair –
Now, the Emmett Lee Dickinson is embarking on a plan to rebuild and rise from the ashes. The Board of Directors of the museum has begun on a 15.6 billion dollar project to reconstruct the museum in the now-abandoned Dickinson Lanes bowling alley (information is HERE). Of course, when all the work is done, the dust has settled, and the museum has reopened, we can guarantee that the ELD will reestablish itself as one of the great museums of the world – and that all visitors will exit through the gift shop.