The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Exhibitions
This weekend marks the U. S. Hockey's annual Hockey Weekend Across America, an event designed to help spread appreciation for the sport throughout the United States. It spans three days, February 28 – March 2, and each day has it's own theme including "Wear Your Jersey Day," "Try Hockey Day" and "Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day." In honor of the weekend, I'd like to share some items with you to help get you in the shinny mood.
First off, in order to play ice hockey, you need both ice and skates. In 1905, a photographer captured some candid shots of folks enjoying a nice winter's day on a frozen Rock Creek within the grounds of the National Zoological Park. The group in the center of the photo looks ready to play. They’ve got their sheet of ice, skates, the child to the left is even wearing a pair of heavy gloves that should protect him from an errant slash. But there’s something they’re missing that every good hockey player needs.
An image from 1944 in the Smithsonian Flickr Commons should be able to help our would-be hockey players. The image features U.S. troops who are attempting to sort through holiday mail. Some items being sent are a damaged box that clearly states "Glass with care," a spare tire, and a hockey stick. Now we’re ready to play!
There is one last, quick story I wanted to share. As I vaguely mentioned in a previous blog post, I often use bears as subjects when testing our collection searches. When I check finding aids, I often use the key word "Hockey." My favorite finding aid that get's returned is for Accession 09-066 - National Portrait Gallery, Dept. of Exhibitions and Collections Management, Exhibition Records, 1979-1983, 1988, 2008. The finding aid contains records of the exhibition Champions of American Sports. Box 7 contains records involving Bobby Hull (One of my all-time favorite Chicago Blackhawks and who's portrait is currently on view in the National Portrait Gallery's Champions exhibit.), Bobby Orr, and Gordon "Gordie" Howe.
It's Gordie Howe that is the subject of my favorite hockey story. Howe, who is best known for his 25 years with the Detroit Redwings, was in the twilight of his career and had moved on to the Hartford Whalers. One day, during warm-ups, he spied a young, 7-year-old boy poking his head over the glass (at that time the glass on top of the boards was much lower than it is now). Howe scooped up some of the snow that accumulates on the ice with his stick, skated over, and dumped it on the boy's head. Skating off, Howe looked back to the boy and gave him a wink.
The boy, Jeremy Roenick, would go on and become a legendary player in the NHL in his own right. When he announced his retirement from the NHL, Roenick recalled that memory. While Roenick was a player, he attempted to reach out to fans as much as he possibly could, and he cited his moment with Howe as a reason for that. "For those three seconds, it was me and Gordie Howe and no one else," Roenick said. "That moment stuck in me, for years, and years, and years, because I know what that made me feel like. It was little, it was small, it took nothing out of his power or his time, but it resonated my whole life."
- Accession 09-066 - National Portrait Gallery, Dept. of Exhibitions and Collections Management, Exhibition Records, 1979-1983, 1988, 2008, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Happy Valentine's Day with a flurry of related blog posts about love tokens, bouquets, and matchmaking for endangered species. [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH and Unbound blog, SIL]
- Not so easy to put up on the frig . . . the challenges of saving creations in virtual worlds (particularly relevant to those parents whose children play Minecraft). [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- With the snow the Washington, D.C. region received this week, it is hard to imagine choosing to sleep outside in the snow in a three-sided building, but that is just what artist Abbott Handerson Thayer and his family did. [via Archives of American Art blog]
- Check it out - The Digital Public Library of America and the Brooklyn Public Library launched new Tumblr blogs. [via InfoDocket]
- Taking a serious look at what it means to be "cool" at the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition, American Cool. [via Face to Face blog, NPG]
- That is just super awesome - Marvel Comics opens up their metadata for non-commercial use. [via InfoDocket]
- One cool cat - an interview with Craig Saffoe, Curator of Great Cats at the National Zoological Park. [via Smithsonian Science]
- Two very different cases of unexpected discovery of photos: World War I negatives found in an attic and a camera caught by a fisherman in Lake Tahoe, California. [via PetaPixel]
- Excited about the Sochi Winter Olympics? Janes Rogers, curator at the National Museum of American History, gives you a tour of the museum's collection of Winter Olympic related items. [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- Congratulations to Cornell University Library which recently acquired its 8 millionth volume! [via InfoDocket]
- Meet the real "Monuments Men" at the Archives of American Art's new exhibition, MONUMENTS MEN: On the Frontline to Save Europe’s Art, 1942-1946, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum [via The Torch, SI]
- A new updated version of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library was launched this week that has 10,000 newly uploaded images. [via Jennifer Wright, SIA]
- Stanford University Libraries and the Bibliothèque national de France partnered to create a French Revolution Digital Archives that includes more than 14,000 hi-res images. [via InfoDocket]
- Going it alone . . . Cezar Popescu's mission to save over 5000 portraits captured on deteriorating glass plate negatives and several hundred prints by digitizing them. See his process as he digitized each negative in the video below. [via PetaPixel]
Happy 2014, everyone! New beginnings go hand-in-hand with a new year, and we are excited to announce that our Greetings from the Smithsonian postcard exhibit has received its own new beginning! The exhibit now has an updated look, and we added a lot of new content and over 100 new postcards to the postcard image galleries.
In preparing to revamp the exhibit, we first had to go through the Archives' collections and find all of the postcards from the old version, as well as locate new postcards to put in the exhibit. Luckily we found hundreds of postcards in our collections, and most of them were not on the old site. Consequently, some of our image galleries are brand-new, like the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Gallery and National Zoo Gallery. Some of my favorite postcards are in the National Zoo image gallery - many of them are richly colored linen postcards with amazingly detailed images of the animals at the zoo. These linen postcards can be found in several other image galleries as well, and each one is striking in its complexity and beauty.
After locating all of the postcards for the exhibit, I had to digitize and catalog most of them. This task was not particularly tricky, until it came to determining the date of our postcards, because many of them are unused. Some of you may remember my blog post from last summer about dating unused postcards - the new postcard exhibit has an even more thorough guide for dating postcards! The Dating Guide contains detailed information about postcard size and postage, as well as references to other resources, including our guide to Postcard History. The history guide in the new exhibit contains information about the styles and trends of the postcard industry. Particularly fascinating to me are the early stages of postcard development, and how different some of these postcards are from those that we use today. For example, during the Private Mailing Card and Post Card periods (collectively 1898-1907), most postcards did not have space for a message! One side of the card was designated as exclusively for the recipient's address, and the other side typically contained an image, leaving no room for a message from the sender. There were exceptions to this seemingly strange feature of postcards, but you will have to read the Postcard History to find out about them!
Now, you may be wondering, where does the Smithsonian fit into all of this, besides the fact that we have postcards? What makes our postcards so special from the millions of others in the world and throughout history? Well, just like how the postcard industry went through an evolution of style and design, the postcards from the Smithsonian underwent their own unique evolution. Our History of Postcards at the Smithsonian is a completely new feature and traces the evolution of the Smithsonian postcard.
We are excited to have the new version of the exhibit up, and we hope that you will enjoy the additions and improvements that we made - let us know what you think!
- Greetings from the Smithsonian: A Postcard History of the Smithsonian, online exhibition, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- The Mystery of the Undated Postcards, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
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