Cheers to Marvin Heiferman

Marvin Heiferman, Courtesy of Marvin Heiferman.

I will begin by saying that this is a bittersweet post to write. Marvin Heiferman—creative consultant, editor, and contributor to The Bigger Picture blog—will be moving on from the Archives to do independent curatorial projects. Marvin (who has his own Wikipedia entry, by the way!) has been with the Smithsonian for some time now: first as a creative consultant for the Smithsonian Photography Initiative (which is now a part of the Archives); and then as a guest curator for click! photography changes everything, a web-based project that was created by the Photography Initiative and ran from 2007–2010, that invited both experts in their fields, and the public at large, to explore the power and impact of photography on history, culture, and everyday life. 

Marvin also helped found The Bigger Picture back in 2009, when the blog was still a part of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative, writing about contemporary issues in visual culture and photography. When the Photography Initiative joined the Smithsonian Institution Archives in the spring of 2009, it was Marvin who helped move our blog content from being primarily photography-focused to embrace a broader umbrella of archives-related, history, and visual culture content. Marvin was also the primary editor for blog content—guiding editorial decisions, and always bringing his careful readings and skillful suggestions to everyone’s writing. And of course, many of you have read his weekly “What Gets Saved” pieces: Marvin’s acute observations about archives news, and examinations of the various challenges and issues that shape archives, history, and memory.

click! photography changes everything introduction, featuring Merry A. Foresta, former Director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative, and Marvin Heiferman, curator of click! photography changes everything.


In his time here, Marvin has written over 120 blog posts for The Bigger Picture that covered topics as wide-ranging as the politics of photography bans and public surveillance to the role of image archives in fashion design. He has made sharp observations about how archives are being used in the digital humanities; by the important writers of our time; scientists; and of course, by everyday folks—as well as how our digital age is changing the very nature of archives. As our head of Web and New Media, Effie Kapsalis, notes, Marvin also has the very best blog titles (point in case, Murder, She Wrote fans: “Illegible, She Wrote”).

I’ve worked in many museums in my career thus far, and I can genuinely say that I’ve rarely worked with a curator and creative spirit with more breadth of knowledge and genuine curiosity about the world than Marvin. It’s easy to get tied up in, or be precious about one’s approach to an area of expertise, and Marvin is one of those rare Renaissance men who are interested and able to absorb almost any subject matter. So, big cheers to Marvin from everyone at the Archives—we will truly miss you here!


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