The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Entertainment
- For all you birders out there - Bowerbirds and their elaborate nests. [via Core77]
- Making collections accessible - The Collections Program Technicians at the National Museum of Natural History. (via Unearthed, NMNH]
- The term "Archive" in a digital context - Different meanings to different people. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- And the Award goes to . . . University of Southern California Digital Repository, who will manage and preserve a 320-terabyte collection of audiovisual materials created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the last 50 years. [via InfoDocket]
- Whale graveyard mystery solved, it was the algae! [via Ocean Portal, NMNH]
- Digital movies and the difficulties in their preservation versus their film counterparts. [via Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig, SIA]
- With hints of spring coming, it is not early to start thinking about what to plant in your garden this year. The Smithsonian's own Janet Draper offers some advice on what you could do for a 10 x 10 foot bit of land. [via Marcel LaFollette, SIA]
- Go behind the scenes at the Smithsonian-Gale Project. [via Unbound, SIL]
- As the cost of 3D printers continues to go down, their use will most definitely become more commonplace. Premiering at South by Southwest is Print the Legend, the first full length documentary about 3D printing. [via Core77]
When asked what the Smithsonian Institution Archives collects, we say we hold records about the history of the Smithsonian and its people, programs, research, and activities. While accurate, this doesn’t really give anyone a clue about what is actually in those records.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives Reference Term handles an average of around 6,000 queries per year, and if you us what people have been researching at the Archives recently, you’ll get some pretty interesting responses. Although not comprehensive, here’s a snapshot of the diverse range of information encompassed by the history of the world’s largest museum complex!
Over the past three months, researcher projects have included:
- National Museum of American History’s upcoming 50th anniversary
- Theodore Roosevelt’s African expedition
- Post-Modern historicism in exhibits
- History of the American Society of Icthyologists and Herpetologists
- Plant geography
- The Paleontology Hall at the National Museum of Natural History, for renovations to the Dinosaur Hall
- Collecting & interpreting objects relating to George Washington
- William Healey Dall
- The history of tropical research in the US
- Zoological imagination in America
Upcoming publications using the Archives' photos or documents include:
- Wright Brothers National Memorial, State of the Park Report
- Leslie Bedford, The Art of Museum Exhibitions
- Ted Binnema, Enlightened Zeal: The Hudson’s Bay Co. and Scientific Networks
- The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Clark: the Institute and its Collections
- Robert Kett, "Ornithologists in Olman," The Museum Journal, April 2014
- Julian Zelizar, A Great Society: The Fight for Liberalism, 1963-1968
Annual List of Publications by Smithsonian Institution ArchivesFellows and Interns
- Gibson, Abraham H. 2013. "Edward O. Wilson and the Organicist Tradition," The Journal of the History of Biology, 46 (3)
- Gibson, Abraham H., Kwapich, Christina L. and Lang, Martha. 2013. "The Roots of Multilevel Selection: Concepts of Biological Individuality in the Early Twentieth Century." History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 35 (4)
- Henson, Pamela M. 2013. "O Instituto Smithsonian: Arquivos e a Historia da Ciencia." Acervo, Revista Da Arquivo Nacional, 26 (1): 113-122.
- Leventhal, Richard M. and Daniels, Brian I. 2013. "'Orphaned Objects,' Ethical Standards, and the Acquisition of Antiquities." DePaul Journal of Art, Technology, and Intellectual Property Law, 23 (2): 339-361.
- Takarabe, Kae. 2013. "Bibliographical Essay on The History of Science and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution: Focusing on women in science and technology." The History of Science of Tokai, 5: 43-51.
- Takarabe, Kae. 2013. "Essay on B. S. Lyman's Collecting Ainu Objects: Focusing on General Instructions to the Assistants of the Geological Survey of Hokkaido." Bulletin of the Historical Museum of Hokkaido, 41: 147-152.
- Takarabe, Kae. 2013. "Research on Technological Innovation in Science Museums and the Use of its Results: A Case Study of the Smithsonian Institution." Lectures and Reports of 31th Symposium-Range and Scope of History of Technology in Japan: Learning about the History of Technology, and Technological, 3: 24-39.
- Takarabe, Kae. 2012. "Study on the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation: Science Communication at the Smithsonian Institution." Journal of the Museological Society of Japan, 37 (2): 135-159.
Most Unusual Reference Inquiry: Does the Smithsonian have Radar's teddy bear from the TV show, M*A*S*H?
Most people assume the teddy bear owned by Radar (actor Gary Burghoff) came to the Smithsonian when the program ended. After all, we received the donation of a large collection of M*A*S*H memorabilia that was displayed in a 1983 exhibit at the National Museum of American History.
A "Radar's Teddy bear" file in Record Unit 360 - National Museum of American History, Office of Public Affairs, Records, circa 1970-1985, contains several 1984 memos planning an event at the National Museum of American History for the proposed donation. However, there's nothing that indicates that such an event ever occurred. The registrar's office at the National Museum of American History confirmed that the teddy bear had not been accessioned. Something must have happened to prevent the teddy bear donation.
Online research revealed that the teddy was missing until 2005, when it brought $10,000 at auction. In a 2007 Orlando Sentinal interview, Burghoff confirmed that the bear was never at the Smithsonian, had disappeared 30 years earlier, and was purchased at the aforementioned auction by a medical student who then sold the bear to him.
Now where was that bear between 1984 and 2005?
- Reference Services, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Have you ever noticed that the Smithsonian was mentioned in a novel, TV series or film? Do you have a favorite book about the Smithsonian? Are you partial to The Simpsons couch gags about the Smithsonian? Are Smithsonian forensic anthropologists really like Bones? What actually happens in Smithsonian museums when the public leaves, the curators finally go home, and the collections have the museums to themselves? Did that curator really commit the murder in the conservation lab with the acid-free cloth tape?
We’ve been looking at how the Smithsonian, with its museums full of specimens and research labs full of scientists, is portrayed by popular media such as movies, television and books. Public perceptions of museums and researchers can be very different from how Smithsonian staff think about themselves. Over the years, Smithsonian staff have been portrayed in mysteries, romances, dramas, comedies, and science fiction. What does this tell us about what the public thinks goes on behind the scenes? Spy novels have their protagonists disappear into the dark halls at the Natural History Museum. Movies portray secret collection storage areas under the National Mall. How have these ideas about the Smithsonian developed and changed over time?
The Smithsonian Institution, perhaps more than any other museum, has been the setting for fiction writing ranging from work by Gore Vidal to the TV series Bones to films including Night at the Museum. Its buildings, iconic American landmarks, often set the scene for books, television and films, while characters with ties to the Smithsonian appear in many genres. There are some subtle differences in the portrayal of science, art, anthropology, and history. But, anthropology has been perhaps the most popular topic for fiction writers. On our new website The Smithsonian in Popular Culture you can explore the different novels, episodes and movies that involve the Insituttion. You can even ask, the question, "Did the Curator Really Do It?" and discover how popular writers construct the characters of museum workers and research scientists and what they think of the Smithsonian's world.
What is your favorite book, TV program or film about the Smithsonian? We would like to continue to expand the website and are looking for input from you. We invite you to send information about your favorite program or book, movie or film to us at SIHistory@si.edu, or leave a comment below.
- The Smithsonian in Popular Culture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- The steady march of time has archivists racing to preserve records created using old technology. [via Jennifer Wright, SIA]
- More tips for you about how to store your personal digital archive. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- As more renovation gets underway, some iconic objects are being pulled off of display the National Museum of American History, including one of my personal favorites, Jerry Seinfield's "puffy shirt." [via O Say Can You See?, NMAH]
- Congratulations to the Freer and Sackler Galleries for raising more than $170,000 through a crowdfunding campaign for the upcoming exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation, opening on October 19 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
- While deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, helicoptor aerial gunner and artist studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, Ed Drew, took the first combat zone tintype photos since the Civil War. [via PetaPixel]
- Listen below to the Smithsonian's own, Günter Waibel, talk to Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program about digitization at the Smithsonian.
Does the jovial fellow riding Ambika the elephant look familiar? It's Fred Rogers, leaving his neighborhood for a visit to the National Zoological Park in the spring of 1982. The host of the children's show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood met giraffes, tigers, and lions as well as pachyderms Ambika and Shanthi; Keepers Jim Jones and Barbara Bingham were featured guests.
Despite rainy conditions, everything went smoothly until the elephant ride. According to The Torch:
As soon as Mr. Rogers was perched atop Ambika's back, she decided she wanted a bath and lumbered eagerly towards the pool. While zoo keepers headed her off, "little" (4,000 pound) Shanthi's curiousity was piqued by the cameraman and his fascinating equipment. As she set off to investigate, our fleet-of-foot staffers quickly foiled a farcical finale.
The episode filmed at the zoo was titled Mr. Rogers Talks About Pets, broadcast on June 4, 1982. You can a find a synopsis at The Neighborhood Archive.
Shanthi and Ambika still live at the National Zoological Park, enjoying their new home, the Elephant Trails exhibit. Now Shanthi is up to 9,000 pounds!
- Record Unit 371 - Office of Public Affairs, The Torch, 1955-1960, 1965-1988, Smithsonian Institution Archives