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History Repeated

History Repeated

Since the dawn of time, mankind has told and passed along stories. Even today, stories are repeated – whether in movies or science fiction television programs, stories continue to be handed down. What’s amazing about some stories, however, is how the same basic theme is seen over and over. The characters or circumstances might change, but it can be argued that the basic idea behind the stories remains the same.

This way of looking at and examining history as seen in famous works of art, stories, cave drawings and even modern movies was one of the lessons learned at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara on Thursday, January 19, at the second lecture in the Hidden Symbols of Art series, Symbols of Kingship and the Sun. “Symbols are a road-map to life. No matter what religion you choose to talk about, the story is still the same,” said Preston Metcalf, chief curator of the Triton.


Metcalf’s knowledge of the subject is astounding and his ability to convey the themes covered in the series will appeal to all age groups. One of Metcalf’s examples incorporated Star Wars so this isn’t just another dull lecture on art or appreciating it, nor is this a lecture series strictly for people who were or are art majors in college. Metcalf offered a point of view not everyone is familiar with and one that makes the audience think.

Initially, Metcalf showed paintings most in the audience assumed depicted the birth and ascension of Christ. He told a story of a virgin giving birth from Immaculate Conception. Shepherds witnessed the birth, wise men visited the baby, and multiple miracles took place over the course of the child’s life. But, even though Christmas just passed, Metcalf wasn’t talking about Mary or the story of Jesus. Rather, he was telling a story that took place over 1,000 years before the birth of Christ.

Throughout the evening, Metcalf gave examples of how stories with similar elements had been repeated throughout history – from the 12 months of the year, to the 12 signs of the Zodiac, to the 12 apostles of Mithras and Jesus. Metcalf summed up the conundrum – “It’s up to the person’s viewpoint to interpret the story.”

The lecture series continues on Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Triton Museum of Art (1505 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara). Drop-in admission is $20. Registration information for the remaining sessions is available by calling 408-247-3754. For information on the Triton Museum of Art and the museum’s exhibits visit


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