The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Exhibitions
In 2017 the Anacostia Community Museum will be celebrating their 50th anniversary, having opened their doors to the public on September 15, 1967 in the Carver Theater on Martin Luther King Avenue in Southeast, Washington, DC. In June 1967, the Smithsonian appointed civil rights activist, educator, and minister, John R. Kinard as the director of the museum. Kinard was deeply interested in involving the youth of the area in developing the new museum. Smithsonian staff worked with local residents to convert the Carver Theater into an exhibition space, and to select objects for display. The theater was renamed the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum.
In April 1987, the museum changed its name to the Anacostia Museum to reflect the museum's increased efforts to examine, preserve, and interpret African American history and culture, not only locally and regionally, but nationally and internationally as well. In 1995, the museum was renamed Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, and served as a planning site for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was established in 2003. The museum then returned its focus to the life and history of communities east of the Anacostia River and was renamed the Anacostia Community Museum in 2006.
The current museum building, completed in 1987, is located in Fort Stanton Park and was designed by Keyes Condon Florance; Architrave; and Wisnewski Blair Associates.
- Anacostia Community Museum records at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Historic images of the Anacostia Community Museum from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Note: In order to access these PDFs, you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software which is available free of charge.
As some of you may know the Smithsonian American Art Museum was originally known as the National Gallery of Art. It bore this name from 1907 till 1937. At that time the museum had to change its name to the National Collection of Fine Arts when its former name (National Gallery of Art) was assigned to the collection donated by Andrew W. Mellon to the United States. In 1980 it changed names again to the National Museum of American Art and then finally in 2000 to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
It was not until 1968 that the museum found a permanent home at the old Patent Office Building. Before then the collections were exhibited in the Art Room at the Smithsonian Institution Building, as well as in the Arts and Industries Building and at the National Museum of Natural History. In the slideshow, you will find the poster for the opening of the museum at the old Patent Office Building in 1968 and a selection of various exhibition and program posters, both from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery.
- Record Unit 452: National Museum of American Art, Office of Exhibition and Design, Exhibition Records, 1975-1981, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 97-036: National Collection of Fine Arts, Office of Public Affairs, Publicity Records, 1968, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Amongst the Archives collections we have appoximately 50,000 pieces of audiovisual materials and counting. These analog audiovisual materials come in a variety of formats including 16mm and 35mm motion picture film; U-matic, betacam, and VHS videotapes; DATs; audiocassettes; 1/4" audiotape; and vinyl records. While we have some of the equipment necessary to view and listen to these formats, making them available more broadly to people requires us to digitize them. As a result, starting in earnest in the fall of 2008 the Archives began to digitize select audiovisual items from our collections. To date we have digitized over 1000 hours of audio and video. Below you will find a compilation of clips from some of the video represented in our collections; covering such topics as science, research, exhibitions, expeditions, and more at the Smithsonian.
In putting together these clips I came across one particular video that I wanted to share in its entirety. It is a video that was used in the exhibition, Information Age: People, Information and Technology, which was at the National Museum of American History from 1990-2006. This permanent exhibition chronicled the birth and growth of the electronic information age with a special focus on how information technology has changed the way people live and work. The video was unique at the time being displayed across 12 individual screens.
Accession 06-104: Office of Telecommunications, Productions, 1987-1996, Smithsonian Institution Archives
What a Groovy Idea! A Pan-Institutional Survey of Audiovisual Collections, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
While processing a recent acquisition of exhibition records from the Renwick Gallery, I came across a number of entries from artists, studios, schools and manufacturers for a national competition sponsored by the museum. Besides the actual entry itself for the competition, what I found most fascinating were the variety of letterhead designs present among the paper entries. While seemingly simple in the execution, their aesthetic and layout were carefully selected to provide a glimpse to their recipient of the design style and language of the sender.
The entries were for the exhibition, Craft Multiples, which was at the Renwick from July 4, 1975 to February 16, 1976. It was an exhibition of 133 production objects selected by jury that consisted of Lois Moran, Director of the Research and Education Department of the American Crafts Council; Hedy Backlin-Landman, Director of the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts; and Lloyd E. Herman, Director, Renwick Gallery. There were a total of 2379 entries that were divided into the following categories: metal, wood, glass, clay, fiber and a miscellaneous other. After its time at the Renwick Craft Multiples went on a three-year tour around the country.
- Accession 10-128: Renwick Gallery, Departmental Records, 1957, 1961-1989, 1997-2003, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Lloyd E. Herman Papers, 1961-2002, Archives of American Art
- Hedy Backlin-Landman Papers, 1961-1977, Archives of American Art
- Beer Mug by William Bernstein, 1975.144.1, Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Music Rack by Richard R. John, 1975.171, Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Wastebasket by Marian John, 1975.140, Smithsonian American Art Museum
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