The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Archives
- On New Years Day 2015, the 44,000 works of art in the Smithsonian’s Freer | Sackler collection will be available online. [via WAMU]
- Dumpster diving! The National Museum of American History added a copy of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Atari 2600 game found in a landfill to their collection. [via O Say Can You See, National Museum of American History]
- The grand re-opening of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum included “Maria Kalman Selects,” an exhibit put together by the Tel Aviv-born, Bronx-raised designer and illustrator. Her only criteria? That the objects give her a "gasp of delight." [via Cool Hunting]
- The American Association for State and Local History weighs in on the importance of documenting controversial histories. [via AASLH blog]
- The basics of copyright distilled into a comic book? I’m in! Available as images, a flash book browser, a print book, and free downloadable PDF. [via PetaPixel]
- The George Eastman House has released 6 new videos on historic photographic processes including this one on cyanotypes. All 12 are available here. [via PetaPixel]
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the first Nobel Prize awarded in 1901. The recipients that year were:
- Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (physics) "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him"
- Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (chemistry) "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions"
- Sully Prudhomme (Literature) "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect"
- Emil Adolf von Behring (physiology or medicine) "for his work on serum therapy, especially its application against diphtheria, by which he has opened a new road in the domain of medical science and thereby placed in the hands of the physician a victorious weapon against illness and deaths."
- Jean Henry Dunant and Frédéric Passy (Peace)
The first woman to receive the prestigious award was Marie Curie, who was awarded twice with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In the history of the Nobel Prize, out of the 889 Nobel Prizes laureates, only 46 have been women. As Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette points out in her recent piece for the Hillman Photography Initiative, the small numbers don't represent the actual contributions women have made. LaFollette examines the culture surrounding physical chemist Rosalind Elsie Franklin, who was the first person to image DNA structure.
Without Franklin's knowledge, Maurice Wilkins, one of Franklin's colleagues, shared her photograph with two other scientists also researching DNA, James Watson and Maurice Crick. Because of their interpretation of the image, the three men went on to win the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA; basically an interpretation Franklin had hypothesized in 1952. For many years, Franklin was left out of the history books when it came to this historic discovery. As LaFollette describes, "Credit should go to the flyboys, the creative geniuses, not the others. 'Technical stuff' was 'woman's work.'"
In honor of this anniversary, we'd like to highlight the women scientists in our collections who have broken boundaries to capture the elusive Noble Prize. We also include one woman, Austrian-born physicist, Lise Meitner, who was overlooked when her colleague, Otto Hahn, won the Noble Prize for the discovery of nuclear fission in 1945.
- Women Scientists in the Smithsonian Institution Archives Collections on Flickr Commons
- "Woman's Work: How Rosalind Franklin's 'Photo 51' Told Us the Truth about Ourselves," by Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Hillman Photography Initiative
- "There are Prizes...and There are Winners," by Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Bigger Picture
- "Is the Nobel Prize a boys mostly club?," National Public Radio
Last week the Smithsonian announced a new plan for the South Mall side of the National Mall, which includes the Smithsonian Castle, the Arthur M. Sacker Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, the S. Dillon Ripley International Center, the Enid A. Haupt Garden, the Arts & Industries Building, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Historically the area has played host to a variety of functions and buildings, specifically the South Yard, located behind the Smithsonian Castle, lies in between the Arts and Industries Building and the Freer Gallery of Art and has been the location for a variety of things over the years. In the late 19th century, one could find several small buildings for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Taxidermy Studio, National Zoological Park, and Aerodrome Studio. After World War I, a Quonset hut housed the National Air Museum (today, the National Air and Space Museum), next to the Radiation Biology Laboratory (today, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) greenhouses. In 1976, the South Yard was converted to a Victorian Garden to welcome visitors. In the 1980s, the area was excavated to create the Quadrangle Complex, with underground buildings for the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley International Center. Pavilion entrances to these buildings are nestled within the Enid A. Haupt Garden.
Adapted from The South Yard online exhibition, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Cost - $73.2 million (including $36.6 million in federal appropriations)
- From Start to Opening - From formal groundbreaking on June 21, 1983 to formal opening, September 28, 1987: 1560 days
- Dimensions - Garden: 4.2 acres; Total complex: 360,000 square feet, including the above-ground pavillions; 96% of the complex is below ground.
- The South Yard, online exhibition, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Historic Images of the South Yard of the Smithsonian Institution Building from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 89-136 - Smithsonian Institution, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs, Quadrangle Records, 1984-1987, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 95-025 - Smithsonian Institution, Office of Development, Quadrangle Campaign Records, 1979-1986, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 93-097 - Visitor Information and Associates' Reception Center, Public Inquiry Mail Service, Quadrangle Funding Project Patrons' Register, 1987-1991, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 88-145 - Office of Facilities Services, Project Files, 1984-1987, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 09-161 - Office of Facilities Services, Project Files, 1965-1984, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 03-026 - Office of Telecommunications, Productions, 1982-1983, 1987, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 410 - Office of Public Affairs, Publicity Records, circa 1965-1974, 1987, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Thanks IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services)! With a grant from the IMLS, the Norman Rockwell Museum has made available online 50,000 photographs, some of which Rockwell used as studies for his paintings. [via OpenCulture]
- Also available this week are free downloadable files to print 3-D models of items found in the British Museum's collection. [via InfoDocket]
- An excellent question - Why does Netflix send Orange is the New Black to the Library of Congress on videotape? [via The Verge]
- Interested in audiovisual preservation? Here are a two posts on what's going on internationally when it comes to audiovisual preservation and also a look a two pioneers in digitial audio, Dietrich Schüller and Albrecht Häfner. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Check out this new website: Unboxing the Chomsky Archive, which offers a preview of some of the unique materials found in the collection of Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at MIT, as well as a way to support the archival project. [via MIT Libraries News]
- Need some photographic inspiration? - Check out this video of photographer, Brian Gaberman, and his work with wet plate collodion photography. [via PetaPixel]
Collaboration. It's the one word that during almost every conference and pan-institutional discussion, everyone says, and hears, a lot. In fact, it's the theme of this year's Archives Month! But why is it so important to collaborate? Because collaboration allows for people with different knowledge and skill sets to come together to solve a common problem. At the Archives, we often work with other Smithsonian divisions and outside groups to solve complex problems in the field of audiovisual (AV) digitization and preservation.
A perfect example of collaborative work at its best is the AV Hack Day from this year's Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) annual conference in Savannah, Georgia. During Hack Day, programmers and archivists came together to create open source tools that tackle common preservation problems that have been identified in the field of AV archiving. Some of the tools created include Hack Day Capture, a tool that works with a Blackmagic capture card and ffmpeg to digitize analog video, Video-Sprites, which eases the process of making web video more accessible, and Characterization Compare, which allows the user to see the outputs from EXIFtool, MediaInfo, and ffmpeg side by side. These tools and all of the others created during Hack Day are available on the AMIA Open Source Github page.
For the past several years, members of the Archives have worked with other government agencies to form a group called the FADGI (Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative). The primary goal of this group is to create guidance for the digitization of still image and audiovisual materials that other archives, public or private, can use when making decisions on how to best preserve their materials. Last month, FADGI released file format comparison charts for still images and analog videos, as well as a set of case histories contributed from eight different units that detail how they are dealing with born digital audio and video content within their collections. The comparison chart for analog audiovisual materials provides information on sustainability, cost, and system implementation for the various codecs and wrappers that are currently being used to create preservation files.
Smithsonian divisions often collaborate with each other as well. Since the majority of the equipment in analog AV archiving can be hard to find, the AV archivists group (AVAIL) here at the Smithsonian created an internal registry of the different equipment owned by each of the divisions, so that we can work together to share resources. The list includes information on the number of decks of a particular type owned by a given division, as well as whether or not they are currently in working condition. This makes it so that when I come across a Hi8 tape in our collections, a format that we do not have a deck for, I can simply consult the registry and contact the appropriate division to see if their deck might be available for me to use. Through the AVAIL listserv, we have also shared our knowledge of different migration errors to help each other solve unusual problems.
Ultimately, it's important to collaborate with others in and outside your field because the knowledge of the many is often more comprehensive than the knowledge of few. Additionally, we are all working towards the same goal of preserving our collections in the best possible way, so working together allows us to optimize our resources and our time. How has collaboration helped you in your field of work?
- Smithsonian AV Archivists Tumblr
- The End of the Beginning: A Born Digital Survey at the Smithsonian Institution, The Bigger PIcture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Audiovisual conservation resources, Library of Congress
- Archives Month across the Smithsonian
- 1 of 7
- next ›