The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Exhibitions
After the Spirit of St. Louis was delivered to the Smithsonian by Charles Lindbergh on April 30, 1928, a letter appeared a few days later in The Washington Post calling for the world-famous plane to be enclosed in a glass case in order to "permit an unobstructed view and at the same time, render its precious contents immune both to the ravages of the climate and the innumerable love pats of countless thousands …" The letter writer suggested a collection drive for $20,000 to acquire a case and would contribute the first dollar.
The monoplane and its solo pilot had made history when it flew nonstop from New York to Paris in 1927. Lindbergh and the Ryan aircraft gained international celebrity status and inspired many aviation fans.
Smithsonian employee Paul Garber, who was responsible for this Smithsonian acquisition, recognized the significance of the flight. He encouraged Smithsonian Secretary Charles Doolittle Walcott to send a cable to Lindbergh in Paris immediately after the flight to see if he would donate the aircraft. Lindbergh agreed.
Lindbergh flew it to Bolling Field on April 30 and was greeted by Garber and the Army Air Service. It was dismantled, transported to the Smithsonian, and reassembled for display.
Garber recounted in his 1974 oral history that, "We received it April 30, 1928, and I had it ready for exhibition on May the 8th, and when we opened the doors -- and that was a Sunday -- there was a mob out here extending all over the Mall! Thousands of persons came in, just everyone to see it and no one had ever done that for any previous exhibit, no matter what it was."
The Smithsonian Annual Report from 1928 noted that the plane was immediately visited by thousands that year. "It promises to be for a long time to come the most popular exhibit in the whole National Museum, and the thanks of the Nation are due Colonel Lindbergh and his friends in St. Louis for placing the famous plane in the national collection," noted the report.
Hung in the Arts and Industries Building initially, this meant it would not receive "love pats" from museum visitors the letter writer worried about. Lindbergh returned to the Smithsonian in 1952 and got into the cockpit again to find markings to note his fuel use.
Garber served in a variety of roles during his Smithsonian tenure, including preparator in the Division of Mechanical Technology and the first curator of the National Air Museum, now the National Air and Space Museum.
Earlier this year the plane was lowered for the first time in 22 years for conservation work for eight months at the National Air and Space Museum. This also allowed the Smithsonian's 3D Team to scan the craft as well without touching it. The digital files from the scanning will be available online soon for exploration by today's aviation fans that was unimaginable nearly 90 years ago.
- Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis, Charles A. Lindbergh, National Air and Space Museum
- Historic images of the Spirit of St. Louis, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Still recovering - The University of Missouri Library still has 160,000 out of 600,000 books that remain to be treated after a mold outbreak in 2013. [via InfoDocket]
- Imagining Spacewalks - An exploration of Tumblr for the National Air and Space Museum exhibition, Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extravehicular Activity . [via AirSpace blog, NASM]
- From the Ford's Theater comes the website, Remembering Lincoln, which marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln and which includes some of Mary Henry's diarys from the Archives. [via Effie Kapsalis, SIA]
- Helpful information about how to find photos at the New York Public Library and beyond. [via NYPL blog]
- In time for Preservation Week the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services has a handy guide on how to preserve your stuff. [via ACLTS]
- Digital and free - Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has put online 210,000 images of works of art and Google Art Project now has 3D objects from a variety of museums and galleries, including animal skulls! [via Open Culture and The Verge]
- The National Air and Space Museum will be beginning the STEM in 30 program on April 22, which consists of live, fast-paced, 30-minute webcasts, and is designed to increase interest and engagement in STEM for students. [via NASM]
- The National Archives and Records Administration has digitized its Little Rock Nine film to mark the anniversary of its 1965 Oscar win. [via InfoDocket]
- Bring books to the people - A 1979 Ford Falcon is transformed into a weapon of mass instruction. [via Open Culture]
- A different kinds of library - A Materials Library at the University College London holds a collection of almost 3000 items from baby teeth to aerogel. [via Motherboard]
- The British Library has created some videos to help being attention to online privacy. [via InfoDocket]
- On exhibit at The Prado Museum is the first art exhibition created for the visually impaired using 3D printing. [via Open Culture]
- Catalog cards are turned into art by painter Vicki Moore. [via Minnesota Public Radio News]
- Amazing facts about about amazing women science pioneers and the books you can read about them from the New York Public Library. [via NYPL blog]
- Here's a look at how colorizer Dana Keller brings historical photos to life with colorization. [via PetaPixel]
- Smithsonian in London? - Just maybe as the Smithsonian's Board of Regents have agreed to proceed with negotiations to have an exhibition space in the redevelopment of the former Olympic Park in East London as part of a proposed new educational and cultural quarter in the city. [via The Torch, Smithsonian Institution]
- Privacy, responsibily and electronic records are in the news at the University of Oregon where 22,000 emails from the President's office were released. [via InfoDocket]
- A behind the scenes look on what it takes to put on the Smithsonian Gardens' orchid show at the National Museum of Natural History. [via Smithsonian Gardens blog]
- Here comes the boom - NASA has made available online a collection of space sounds. [via Open Culture]
- It takes a lot to put together an exhibition, here are five things Jennifer Levasseur learned while curating the exhibition, Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity, at the National Air and Space Museum. [via AirSpace blog, NASM]
- The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has released an API to grant developers programmatic access to its collection. [via InfoDocket]
- With a little thing called the Super Bowl happening this weekend, here is the trailer for a film about the four photographers who have photographed every Super Bowl. [via PetaPixel]