Antiques Roadshow for the YouTube Generation

[Ghost town in Steins, New Mexico. Photo by Aaron Glass, 2002]
In late January 2010, Boston public television station WGBH, in partnership with the program Antiques Roadshow, sent out the following call for video submissions of personal testimonies regarding particularly treasured objects. Of the three main structural components of the popular television show—the first person narratives of discovery and ignorance regarding attribution; the gregarious display of arcane and expert knowledge from specialist connoisseurs; and the climactic “reveal” of the objects’ potential market value—this current off-shoot seems to privilege only the personal stories. However, my sense is that the initial stories on the show itself gain their primary narrative force in contrast with the anticipated auction-house price (“your faded little candy tin is actually worth $8,000!”), and that most viewers watch the show for the parade of expert knowledge that provides the dramatic bridge between the two. While it is not yet clear who the audience for these new auto-testimonials will be, or how they will be circulated (if at all), the project seems to acknowledge that many more of us have objects that we want to publicly narrate (to our friends? to strangers? to cyberspace? to ourselves?) than can be accommodated by the line-ups when Antiques Roadshow comes to a gym or community hall in our town. Notably, the show’s producers don’t offer to attribute or appraise these video’d objects; the only promise is simply to provide exposure to the personal narrative itself (and that is only a future possibility), as well as a chance to take the object to a taping of the show. We all love to tell the story about how we discovered that Tiffany’s lamp in a yard sale, or that weird diamond broach in Aunt Bessie’s attic. Such tales have the capacity to illuminate the multiple values adhering to objects—especially objects that are not likely otherwise to get selected for televisual examination or commercial resale. Like National Public Radio’s oral history initiative StoryCorps, WGBH is soliciting such volunteered narratives on the assumption that people simply want to tell their stories—and their objects’ stories—to the world, to have their treasured finds validated by the masses if not by certified experts. [Aaron Glass]
Hello Friends,
Happy New Year! As you start to put all the holiday decorations away, we want you to start taking a closer look at those old items sitting around.
We all have them, sitting in the attic or closet, passed down by a cousin’s cousin, estranged fathers, or a mothers, sister’s brother.
We hold on to them because they are a part of our family and because, we hope to someday pass them along to younger generations – even if all they become is trendy décor, or dust collectors. And we all hope that their history will someday tell a story.
We’re ready to hear it.
Does it make you laugh? Cry? Who gave you the piece, and what did they tell you about it? Whatever the details, the WGBH Lab, in partnership with PBS’s own Antiques Roadshow, wants to see your item and hear its story. Showcase your piece in an original home movie or creative short film, no longer than 2 minutes. Be unique, and fun with your antique and its story. We want your video to dazzle our audience, and us as well.
Your reward? – How about a pair of tickets to a live taping of Antiques Roadshow this summer?
From now, until the end of May, we will be awarding 3 video submissions with a pair of VIP tickets to attend a live taping of an Antiques Roadshow appraisal event. Additionally, your video could be chosen by Antiques Roadshow for national broadcast at a later date, to be featured on their website, or chosen as a stand alone video short to be aired on PBS stations nationwide!
Take a moment to visit us at: The Antiques Roadshow Open Call, review our Eligibility and Guidelines for submission deadlines, and our Official Rules to make sure your video qualifies.
Then, dig out your treasure and get working on your video!
Good luck! We look forward to learning about your antiques, 

The WGBH Lab