The glasses that Ben Jacobs wore when he was allegedly body-slammed by Montana politician Greg Gianforte didn’t fare too well — they were broken in the incident, which started when the Guardian reporter attempted to interview the now-elected Republican congressman.
But now the damaged eyewear is getting the white-glove treatment. “Actually, we use blue nitrile gloves,” says Carrie Christoffersen, the director of collections at the Newseum, which soon after the body-slam made news, reached out to Jacobs in the hopes of adding the broken lenses to its collection. “We want to make sure that they are no more broken and no less broken than they are.”
Christoffersen hopes to get the glasses on display at the museum within the month — they’ll be inventoried, the text for the display written and the accompanying images prepared, posthaste. Considering the incident happened just a week ago, that’s a quick turnaround for a museum, but it’s apropos that the Newseum would move quickly in an age of insta-news.
“We want to get it up and to help provoke thought and discourse — that’s what we’re here for.” She’s not sure where the “instant exhibit” will go — maybe in its “first amendment gallery” or perhaps in the area designated for world news, since the Guardian is based in Britain, though Jacobs works for its U.S. edition and is based in D.C.
Jacobs’s glasses are just one of the objects Christoffersen and her team have sought out to tell the story of the state of the First Amendment and freedom of expression in the Trump era — they’ve also secured ephemera like our colleague David Fahrenthold’s famous notebook and signs from the post-inauguration women’s march.
“People respond well to objects,” she says. “It opens them up to think about that moment in time and things going on in their world.”