The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Exhibitions
RIP architect Hans Hollein, designer of the inaugural exhibition, MANtransFORMS at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 1976. The exhibit (see images below) examined everyday objects and the ways they were adapted by different people in different places and times.
- Hans Hollein, Architect of Witty Designs, Dies at 80, New York Times Obituaries
- MANtransFORMS Exhibit, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
The Archives recently received a collection of records from former National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Director, Martin Harwit. Formerly an astronomer on the faculty of Cornell University, Harwit was Director of NASM from 1986-1995. Accession 14-100 consists of records created and maintained by Harwit which document plans to exhibit the Enola Gay and the resulting controversy.
The Enola Gay was the Boeing B-29 Superfortress commanded by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. that on August 6, 1945 dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan that destroyed 90 percent of the city and instantly killed 80,000 people with tens of thousands more dying later of radiation exposure. This bomb along with another dropped on Nagasaki three days later lead to Japan's unconditional surrender in World War II.
A script for "The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War" was released for comment in January 1994. As a result of the feedback the exhibition was retitled "The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II" and the script underwent several major revisions through January 1995. Each version of the script was met with controversy, particularly from veterans groups and Harwit ultimately resigned as Director on May 2, 1995. Prior to his resignation, Harwit had collected copies of all of NASM's current and historical documents related to the Enola Gay in order to prepare for his testimony during Congressional hearings on the matter; however, the hearings occurred shortly after his resignation and Harwit was not asked to testify.
On June 28, 1995, a completely different "Enola Gay" exhibition opened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. The exhibition contained several major components of the Enola Gay including two engines, the vertical stabilizer, an aileron, propellers, and the forward fuselage that contains the bomb bay. Other parts of the exhibition included interviews with the crew before and after the mission to bomb Hiroshima, information about the history and development of the Boeing B-29 fleet used in bombing raids against Japan, and the Smithsonian's efforts to restore the Enola Gay. The exhibition closed in 1998 and after the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened the entire aircraft was put on display in 2003.
After his resignation, Harwit continued to collect clippings, journal articles, and television coverage related to the Enola Gay and its exhibition as well as received related materials from veterans groups. He also spoke on the subject in a variety of settings. In 1996, Harwit published the book An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay. A Japanese translation was published in 1997.
Materials in this collection include correspondence and memoranda; exhibition scripts (some annotated); Congressional hearing transcripts; journal articles, preprints, and book reviews; copies of An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay in English and Japanese; Director's calendars, notes, and Rolodex; chronology of the Enola Gay's restoration and exhibition; lecture scripts and slide presentations; newspaper clippings and videotaped news stories and television programs; radio interviews with Harwit on audiotape; video elements created during the production of exhibition videos; and related materials. Also included are several compilations of documents related to the Enola Gay that served different purposes.
- The Museum of London recently acquired a set of photographs by Christina Bloom, the United Kingdom's first female press photographer. [via PetaPixel]
- Just gotta use what works - The tale of Cooper-Hewitt downgrading their website to Wordpress. [via Cooper-Hewitt Labs]
- This past weekend, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of African Art paid tribute to poet Maya Angelou who celebrated her 86th birthday on April 4. [via face to face, NPG]
- Smithsonian Magazine announced their finalists for their 11th annual photo contest. [via Colossal]
- Available for download - 15 years worth of live Fugazi shows. [via The Verge]
- Added context - Famed classical singer Marian Anderson's outfit from her performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, was a bright orange and stands in contrast to the black-and-white images of her that day. [via The Torch, SI]
- This week saw the end of Microsoft's support for Windows XP. As one of the longest-living operating systems, one of its most recognizable elements was its "Bliss" wallpaper. Below is the story of that image captured by Charles O'Rear. [via PetaPixel]
- Coming soon in July 2016 - The National Air and Space Museum will have a revised and updated Milestones of Flight gallery to welcome its visitors. [via AirSpace, NASM]
- Preservation at its best the Star-Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History has experienced little to no physical degradation since moving into its new space in 2008. [via O Say Can You See?, NMAH]
- The basics of scanning from the Library of Congress. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- An honored April Fool's tradtion at the National Museum of American History is its annual Conference on Stuff, this year's topic was "salt." [via The Torch, SI]
- A spotlight on digital collections at museums and the people behind them who create and preserve them: Marla Misunas, Collections Information Manager for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- My that's a big bird sculpture - Check out the The Lost Bird Project presented by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens on view March 27 to March 15, 2015. [via Unbound, SIL]