Room with a Viewer

A young Larry King. A racist white enclave called Liberty City. A homophobic Anita Bryant taken seriously. South Florida's past is present at the Louis Wolfson II Media History Center.

From the Wolfson's inception, Steve Davidson has worked to make the public aware of this unique resource. The center has sponsored seminars and screenings in conjunction with MDCC, the Miami Film Festival, the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, the Jewish Film Festival, the Miami International Book Fair, Art Deco Weekend, and the Royal Poinciana Festival. Twice each week video rarities handpicked by Davidson and his staff are screened in the main library's auditorium; the series, titled Video Rewind, is televised daily on Metro-Dade Television (cable Channel 34), though it's currently on hiatus through August. What's more, the center is one of only three institutions in the nation authorized to screen the winners of the Peabody Awards.

Given all that exposure, you might guess the Louis Wolfson II Media History Center is one of South Florida's best known and most treasured cultural assets. Guess again. Few Miamians are aware of this vast storehouse; fewer still make use of it. Davidson guesstimates that the annual number of patrons who attend Wolfson seminars, screenings, and special events falls between 1500 and 3000. The number who walk in to view the holdings independently is about one-tenth of that.

But the center has come a long way in a very short time. And although Davidson says he'd love to see attendance at screenings reflect the national acclaim the archive has received, he's got his hands full overseeing the collection.

Besides, Davidson has bigger fish to fry. After all, as Larry Viskochil would say, he's "in the forever business.

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