Outlaw artifacts on Australian display

Monday, January 12, 2004

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A brass handle from Jesse James' coffin and photos and other mementos from the outlaw who was gunned down in St. Joseph are on display in Australia.

The Jesse James Home in St. Joseph lent the items to the National Museum of Australia for its exhibition, called "Outlawed!" The exhibition, now on display in Canberra, Australia, is touted as a collection of relics from "the world's rebels, revolutionaries and bushrangers."

After six months in Canberra, the exhibit will have similar runs in Melbourne and Brisbane. The St. Joseph artifacts will be returned in 2005.

Cinnamon van Reyk, program officer for the National Museum, said the items on loan from St. Joseph are "absolute treasures."

"Even 8-year-old Australian boys today are very keen to know more about him and see objects that relate to him."

One theme of the exhibition is that every culture has outlaws who have become figures of national significance.

Most share universal features, such as folk-hero status and the need to justify their actions to the public. Jesse James, for example, wrote letters to newspaper editors explaining his lawlessness.

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