Office of Public Affairs Photographic Collection

Earlier this year I briefly wrote about the history of the Smithsonian Photographic Services cold storage vault and promised to follow up with a series of posts examining each of the collections it houses. The first collection I’d like to introduce is Accession 11-008 - Office of Public Affairs Photographic Collection, which documents a variety of significant events in our institutional history from 1960-1970.  The collection consists of 35mm and 120mm black and white negative roll film that we are scanning as digital contact sheets. The varied content on the film details public and private events such as notable visitors, exhibit openings, and special donations, as well as building renovations, behind the scenes work, and staff portraits. 

This collection overlaps in a very interesting way with other collections we have at the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Prints made from select frames of this film have made their way into the records of our internal staff newspaper, The Torch, as many of the images were used in the publication to illustrate to staff the goings on around the Institution. Prints made from this collection also show up in our central file of photographs that documents the history of the Institution. To aid us in cataloging this collection, we rely on information from the negative sleeves, a handwritten logbook that is sometimes less than decipherable, and any information we can glean from related collections. With the addition of the Office of Public Affairs Photographic Collection to our holdings, we now have the complete set of original film that can fill in any gaps missing from our other photographic holdings documenting the Smithsonian during the 1960s.

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Cover of OPA Negative Log, Acc. 10-001, Smithsonian Photographic Services, Negative Log Books, 1959-1999, 2008.

Page excerpt of OPA Negative Log, Acc. 10-001, Smithsonian Photographic Services, Negative Log Books, 1959-1999, 2008.

Contact sheet containing images of the Smithsonian Institution Building, or Castle, in snow, March 2, 1969, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1454.

Taxidermied tiger to go on display at the National Museum of Natural History, c. 1965, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-14-21.

Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley and Robert F. Kennedy at the Opera Society Ball at the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History, c. 1965, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-36-16.

Elizabeth Montgomery visits the First Ladies exhibit at the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History, c. 1965, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-50-08A.

Ham the Chimpanzee, first primate launched into outer space, at the National Zoological Park, 1966, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-64-04.

Presentation by Coca Cola to the Medical Science division at the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History, April 4, 1966, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-863D.

John Glenn visits the National Air Museum, May 2, 1966, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-876R2-C.

A skeleton is cleaned and assembled for exhibit, c. 1966, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-878F.

Cecelia Gabriel visits Cecelia the Giraffe at the National Zoological Park, July 18, 1966, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-907-28A.

A tour for children of the White House at the Museum of History and Technology, now known as National Museum of American History, featuring Faith Bradford's Dolls' House, c. 1967, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1007-09A.

Terrace on the Mall side of the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History. The slatted canopies act as a sunshade and were designed by Victor Lundy of Guilford, Connecticut and New York, c. 1967, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1019-14.

Louis Paul Jonas, designer of the Uncle Beazley fiberglass triceratops sculpture used in the NBC production of 'The Enormous Egg,' holds up a model of a baby Uncle Beazley sitting on vegetation to a giraffe in the Elephant House at the National Zoological Park, June 9, 1967, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1063-6A.

A model of Uncle Beazley, a dinosaur triceratops from the NBC production of 'The Enormous Egg', on the National Mall, c. 1967, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1085R1-7A.

Foundation excavation for the Alexander Calder sculpture "Gwenfritz" on the west side of the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History, February 13, 1969, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1439-30.

Jose de Rivera sculpture "Infinity" located at the Mall entrance of the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History, May 1969, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1493-18.

Dedication ceremony for the Alexander Calder sculpture "Gwenfritz" outside the Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History, June 3, 1969, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1510-18.

CBS - NBC Apollo XI moon shot coverage telecast in the Arts and Industries Building, July 20, 1969, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1548-15.

Dome raising at the Smithsonian Institution Building, or Castle, April 23, 1970, by Unidentified photographer, Photographic negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: OPA-1626B-11.

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