Our exhibition, “William F. Mangels: Amusing the Masses on Coney Island and Beyond,” opens to the public in our Historic Chapel on September 7–in less than two months.
Much to do!
Now that we have successfully raised money from our Kickstarter backers, a grant through City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the corporate sponsorship of Luna Park, and a generous donation from the Mangels family, it is time to finalize the objects that will be in the show and work with our exhibition designer and our graphics design team to lay out the show.
We recently went down to Coney Island’s Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park to look at items that might work well in the exhibition. Dennis, who owns Deno’s with his brother Steve, graciously showed us around. Our videographer, Dempsey Rice, met us there, and she shot the two Mangels rides still in operation there today: the Pony Carts and the Fire Engines, both of which date circa 1950. We plan to have several Ipads loaded with video of various Mangels rides in operation today at local amusement parks, as well as archival footage of Mangels rides.
The Pony Carts were very impressive, with a mechanism causing the ponies gallop up and down as they circled. And who doesn’t love driving around in a fire engine?
I must say–the Wonderwheel is a very well-run operation. Staff was helpful and accommodating–running the rides so that we could videotape them in operation.
Dennis took us into his basement–which had been flooded by Hurricane Sandy and where many items had been destroyed or damaged–to show us around. We spotted several great objects–an old and very heavy Wonder Wheel sign, lit by light bulbs, Whip cars, a balloon sign, and more. Dennis and Steve have kindly agreed to loan us some very interesting items for the exhibition.
We also visited the B & B Carousell, recently restored by the Parks Department.
And we stopped off on 8th Street in Coney Island at what had been William F. Mangels’s factory early in the 20th century–where more amusement park rides were made than anyplace else. The building is now a branch of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
We also met last week with Lisa Mangels Schaefer, William F. Mangels great granddaughter. She brought in unique items from the Mangels family collection. Her father, who died recently, was the third generation of the family in the business. William F. Mangels would be very proud to learn that Lisa has a tattoo on her right shoulder–of one of his shooting gallery targets!
We were also recently contacted by Tim Clifford, a Brooklyn artist. Tim, it turns out, heard about our exhibition through our Kickstarter campaign and had made a donation to it. By coincidence, he was working at the time on large panels, inspired by shooting gallery designs. Tim is going to be creating art inspired by William F. Mangels’s shooting galleries for the exhibition. I think that’s a great story–a Brooklyn artist in 2014, inspired by William F. Mangels!
We’ve also just been in touch this week with a collector who has an amazing collection–he is willing to loan some one-of-a-kind pieces to the exhibition.
Things are developing rapidly–updates to follow . . .