The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Advertising
- Smithsonian Secretary Clough's most recent earthquake update.
- Whoa. For all you web nerds out there, check out this interactive timeline called, "The evolution of the web," which takes us through the birth and death of many a web browser, coding language, and web specific technology [via Swissmiss].
- A Smithsonian Institution Libraries intern recounts her internship experience, from Smithsonian steampunk to learning Latin in order to translate rare book titles.
- Earlier this week we mentioned Devra Kleiman, a scientist who headed up the National Zoo's Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program. Read more about Kleiman's work, and the importance of her field notes, over at the Field Book Project blog.
- Mad Men alert! Duke University Libraries has a very interesting collection of over 16,000 images of billboards from the likes of Heinz and Jim Beam in their Outdoor Advertising Association of America Archives [via The Scout Report].
- The National Museum of American History recently asked for help identifying the source of some Battlestar Galactica eyeglasses that they found in their medicine collections. Based on the wonderful comments in this blog post, I'd say they figured it out! Read more and watch the video below, which features museum technician Drew Robarge examining the glasses for clues about their origins:
"Seeing history through Battlestar Galactica glasses," Courtesy of the National Museum of American History YouTube Channel.
- Congratulations to the main Smithsonian website, which has been nominated for a Webby Award in the category of Best Cultural Institution website! (Please go and vote.)
- Mark your calendars! The Library of Congress will be hosting the free public event, Pass it On: Personal Archiving Day, on Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m to provide the public with information about preserving personal and family photographs.
- All of the talks from Ignite Smithsonian, last week’s Smithsonian-sponsored event on the future of museums, archives, and libraries, are now available on the web!
- The Philadelphia Tribune is digitally archiving its entire photographic collection for public online access, and the resulting archive will be “among the largest photography collections telling the visual story of the African American experience.”
- In honor of National Poetry Month, a DC Poetry tour around the city by The Poetry Foundation, complete with stops at Smithsonian landmarks like the National Zoological Park and the National Air and Space Museum.
- Artist Mac Premo has archived much of his life through collected objects. Now he’s moving and has to get rid of his stuff. He’ll be photographing and displaying four hundred of these objects in The Dumpster Project [via swissmiss]:
Umm, this definitely wins the award for my most favorite new discovery in an archive. How did Michael Jackson do that off the hook lean in his dance in “Smooth Criminal”? Apparently with a patented device now found in the Records of the Patent and Trademark Office at the National Archives.
- Here’s some electronic archivist trivia: what determined the length of the original audio CD? The answer may surprise you.
- Behind the scenes. Check out how the Smithsonian’s Office of Exhibits Central makes insects feel more at home with incredibly realistic looking plants made especially for the National Museum of Natural History’s Insect Zoo.
- The Tate Museum in London has put together Archive Journeys—online exhibits exploring the history of the Tate Museum and the art world that helped shape it through the museum’s archives (which were recently made accessible online for the first time).
- Our former intern, Jess Kahan, won the Archivist Romance Novel Contest over at ArchivesNext. Congrats, Jess! [via Jennifer Wright, SIA]
- As a capstone to our Women's History Month additions to our Women in Science set on the Flickr Commons, it's nice to hear that there are "significant strides in hiring, promoting, and supporting women scientists and engineers" at places like MIT [via Effie Kapsalis, SIA].
- FYI: Archives Outside has a nice overview about how to properly handle archival materials on their blog.
- Duke University’s AdViews, a collection of nearly 9,000 digitized vintage television commercials, is now available on the Internet Archive. There are a ton of hilarious and strange ads to explore, including this one, in which kids and their parents (cowboys?) get really excited about their dental checkups…:
P&G: Crest Toothpaste, 1980 (dmbb14049), Courtesy of Duke University AdViews and the Internet Archive.
While the economy may be perking up, the recession we’re still climbing out of has made one thing clear; if you need to earn a living, you’ve got to think entrepreneurially. Read enough success stories about former executives who’ve become cupcake moguls and a path becomes clear: take the dreams and skills you have, along with whatever compelling back story you can point to and exploit them in whatever media you have access to. If you’ve ever thought about branding and/or marketing yourself, you might learn something from this photograph of the American sculptor, Edmonia Lewis. As Jacqueline Serwer, chief curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), described it for a story in click! photography changes everything, this small, cardboard-mounted promotional piece was circulated by Lewis to create buzz and build an audience and financial support for her ambitious sculptural works.
In addition to commissioning this carte-de-visite from Henry Rocher, one of Chicago’s better known portrait photographers, Lewis also took out an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune, promoting the return of the “young and gifted Colored Sculptor of Rome, Italy.” The public was invited to purchase tickets to view Lewis’ sculpture and meet the artist, herself. This novel strategy was clever and profitable; by Lewis’ own reckoning, she earned $6,000 in admission and raffle sales in Chicago, and the growing interest her publicity and the work itself soon led to its display in exhibitions in California and inclusion in the Fine Art section of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial. While it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that film star Elizabeth Taylor could proudly proclaimed “I am my own commodity,” Lewis’ photograph and marketing scheme are reminders of the creative ways 19th century women engineered their own pathways to success.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives’ collections are peppered with beautiful examples of 19th century advertising art—brochures, letterheads, even bills of lading that were lavishly illustrated. T. Mead’s Free Museum, News Depot, and Specimen Store of Marquette, Michigan, catered to the tourist trade and also supplied the Smithsonian’s Ethnological collections with Native American crafts. This circular came with a shipment of 4 pairs of Indian- made snowshoes (total: $13).
In addition to illustrations, the circular provides reading entertainment—doggerel on the front, a stirring epic poem about a battle between the Iroquois & Chippewa on the reverse! In the verse, and highly appropriate for this season of gift giving, is this bit of 1870s hard sell:
“‘Twas down by a nook where willows grow
And forget-me-nots slyly are peeping
Where violets nestle and wild roses blow
A maiden set almost a weeping
With vexation because young Alfonso would not purchase her one of those elegant Bird Fans just received at the News Depot.”
In addition to being an example of vintage advertising strategies, the circular also provides us with a nice lesson in paper deterioration— notice the difference between the original color and the yellowed portion, which was exposed to light and pollutants. To learn more about avoiding this kind of damage, check out this blog post, in which our Paper Conservator, Nora Lockshin, gives some pointers about the best storage techniques for family papers and documents.