The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

TO HONOR THE LIFE + ADVANCE THE LEGACY OF EMPEROR NORTON

RESEARCH • EDUCATION • ADVOCACY

EMPEROR NORTON  ::  Bicentennial: 2018

Detail of cabinet card of Emperor Norton, c.1878, by Bradley & Rulofson. Collection of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Detail of cabinet card of Emperor Norton, c.1878, by Bradley & Rulofson. Collection of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Joshua Abraham Norton is on Sunday 4 February 2018.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, The Emperor's Bridge Campaign is producing...

Emperor Norton at 200 — a series of exhibits, talks, toasts and other special events in February 2018 and throughout the bicentennial year.

 

 

Participating cultural institutions:


Calendar of events

Please keep checking back for additional details — including ticket information — and added events.

EVENTS

1 Feb 2018
California Historical Society

WILL THE REAL EMPEROR NORTON PLEASE STAND UP?
A Lecture & Pop-Up Exhibit in Celebration of the Emperor Norton Bicentennial

At this event to kick off the Emperor Norton at 200 series, the California Historical Society will exhibit items from its collection of rarely displayed Emperor artifacts and ephemera, and Emperor's Bridge Campaign president John Lumea will offer a lecture that asks: Who is Emperor Norton? What does it mean to say that the Emperor Norton was an eccentric? Why do we latch on to certain parts of his story and not to others? Is it time to update our vision of the Emperor? Wine, beer and light snacks will be served.

7 Feb 2018
Mechanics' Institute

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF EMPEROR NORTON
A Party in Celebration of the Emperor

The Mechanics' Institute's 1866 building, formerly located on the site of the Institute's current building and lost in 1906, was one of Emperor Norton's regular afternoon haunts: a place where he wrote many of his Proclamations — on Institute stationery — and where is reputed to have played a mean game of chess.

While our aim is to make every Emperor Norton at 200 event an occasion to learn something new about the Emperor — and notwithstanding the august venue — there will be no lecture on this special evening. The emphasis will be on levity! Attendees are encouraged to dress according to the San Francisco style during the period of the Emperor's reign: 1860s and 1870s. Bonus points for those dressed as other storied Mechanics' Institute figures of the Emperor's acquaintance. If Eadweard Muybridge, Andrew Smith Hallidie or Frederick Marriott is in your costume reportoire, now is your moment!

15 Feb 2018
San Francisco Public Library

THE GOOD EMPEROR
The Best Proclamations of Emperor Norton That You've Never Heard Of

Emperor Norton was an elegant writer, and he is rightly famous for his Proclamations. So, it's a shame that only a handful of these published decrees — some of which, the Emperor almost certainly didn't even write — tend to find their way to the spotlight.

In this special talk, Emperor's Bridge Campaign president John Lumea will reveal "the literary Emperor," as seen through many of his imperial Proclamations that rarely get any attention — but that, as a body of work, actually are more significant, in illustrating the full range of his concerns, than those that do.

EXHIBITS

1 February 2018
California Historical Society

THE EMPEROR IN THE LIBRARY:  A RARE DISPLAY

In connection with the kick-off lecture of the Emperor Norton at 200 series (see Events, above), the California Historical Society presents — in its North Baker Research Library — a one-night-only exhibit of items from its collection of Emperor Norton artifacts and ephemera. 

 

28 January – 2 March 2018
San Francisco History Center / San Francisco Public Library

EMPEROR NORTON, LARGER THAN LIFE

Emperor Norton is a mythic figure in San Francisco history, a lovable eccentric who walked the city in an outlandish costume, dispensing good cheer and proclamations in the 19th-century city. His story has endured for years, immortalized in local history books and newspapers, and seemingly discovered anew by succeeding generations. This pop-up exhibit, in partnership with Emperor Norton’s bicentennial, will showcase just some of the many books, prints and articles that have kept the Emperor alive in the popular imagination of San Francisco for close to two centuries. [San Francisco Public Library]

 

24 January – 11 March 2018
Society of California Pioneers Museum and Library

IMPERIAL; FIVE PORTRAITS OF JOSHUA NORTON

LE ROI EST MORT (THE KING IS DEAD, in French) was the headline of The San Francisco Chronicle on the day Joshua Norton died. Another paper wrote: “San Francisco without an emperor is like a throne without a king.” It is hard to say if these newspapers were being kind or being cruel. After all, members of San Francisco high society invited Emperor Norton to their parties, but only because they were entertained by his eccentricities. Were they honoring a member of their community or ridiculing a deeply troubled man who thought he was royalty? It is impossible to say. Images of Norton echo this dichotomy; drawings often depict him as either heroic or benign, while in photographs he appears motley at best and even malevolent at times. The Society of California Pioneers marks the bicentennial of Norton's birth by featuring a selection of rarely-seen portraits of the man himself. [Society of California Pioneers]

Admission is free. Location and hours here.

THREE CHEERS FOR EMPEROR NORTON!

There are three bars that have been The Emperor's Bridge Campaign's most frequent — and gracious — hosts since our launch in 2013. During the bicentennial month of February 2018, we'll visit each of these three and raise a glass to the Emperor. Dates to be announced.

  • Emperor Norton's Boozeland
  • The House of Shields
  • Comstock Saloon 

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