The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Science History
On view at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) through September 2016 is “Science Under Glass,” which celebrates the craft, art, and use of laboratory glassware. The display and the accompanying online exhibition draw from the museum’s collection of more than 1,000 pieces of scientific glassware.
From beakers and test tubes to Erlenmeyer flasks, these beautiful, seemingly fragile objects are what cartoonists, novelists, and moviemakers have long used to signal that a fictional character is a scientist. Place a test tube in the hand of a white-coated actor and every audience member will recognize her occupation.
Glassware, however, serves a vital function in the laboratory, allowing researchers to heat a substance, cool a substance, see a substance, monitor a reaction. And through the centuries, expert glassblowers have been asked to create intricate tubes and containers for specialized functions.
So, enjoy this slide show of photographs of laboratory interiors from the Science Service photographic morgue, and then take a look at the NMAH online exhibition for help in identifying the different types of flasks, tubes, and beakers arrayed behind these bacteriologists, chemists, biologists, and inventors.
Starting tomorrow through next week, we will be digging into the life of entomologist Harrison Gray Dyar (1866-1929). Dyar was honorary custodian of the Smithsonian's United States National Museum's collection of Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths, etc.) for more than thirty years. As a scientist, Dyar was noted for his work concerning mosquito-borne diseases. He also developed a new approach to taxonomy examining both larval and adult stages of insects that brought about major changes in the scientific community's understanding of insect systematics.
His private life was no less exceptional. Dyar made a splash in Washington, D.C. newspapers for his scandalous personal life that involved maintaining two families in two different dwellings at the same time. He also had a strange habit of digging tunnels underground, one of which caused an alley to collapse in Dupont Circle.
So stay tuned! Tomorrow we will launch five field books to the Transcription Center for which we need your help transcribing. Also, follow the Smithsonian Libraries' blog next week as author and entomologist, Marc E. Epstein Moths, Myths, and Mosquitoes: The Eccentric Life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., will share different facets of Dyar's life. Also on May 17th at 2:30 p.m., join Epstein on a Google Hangout to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the specimen Dyar collected, and hear more about his fascinating life.
Transcribe and Learn with Us!
- H. G. Dyar - Bluebook 401- 414, 1893-1894
- H. G. Dyar - Bluebook 415-435, 1893-1894
- H. G. Dyar - Bluebook 436-450, 1893-1894
- H. G. Dyar - Bluebook 451-473, 1894
- H. G. Dyar, Bluebook 474-491, 1894-1897
- Free Google Hangout, May 17th, 2:30 p.m., with author Marc E. Epstein.
- #DigIntoDyar Pinterest Board
- Evening Program and Book Signing with Marc E. Epstein, Moths, Myths, and Mosquitoes: The Eccentric Life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Go here for tickets.
- "The Unfathomable Pursuit of Personal Tunneling"Atlas Obscura, June 26, 2015.
- "Who Was Harrison G. Dyar?," by John Kelly, Washington Post, October 27, 2012 (first in a 10-part series).
- "A final look at D.C.'s tunnel-digging bug man," by John Kelly, Washington Post, November 7, 2012. (last in a 10-part series)
- Harrison Gray Dyar Papers, 1882-1927, SIA RU007101.
- Cardboard architectural landmark cathouses; sacrilege or awesome? [via Design Boom]
- Prince's Paisley Park to become a museum. [via Hyperallergic]
- The bison is set to become America's national mammal. Learn how the Smithsonian helped save the American bison. [via Washington Post]
- A new online archive from the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore Uprising 2015 Archive Project, documenting the wake of Freddie Gray’s death. [via Info Docket]
- Japanese priests inadvertently collected 7 centuries of climate data making a boon to scientists! [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- Audubon fooled fellow naturalist, Rafinesque, into documenting the existence of 28 fake specimen. [via Atlas Obscura]
- In case you missed DPLA fest last week, the opening keynote with leaders from the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian, and more, is available online. [via Info Docket]
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