The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Ask the Smithsonian, Again!
We are so pleased to offer our time and expertise again this year at the “Ask the Smithsonian” event that will occur during the 2nd annual Smithsonian Archives Fair on Friday, October 14, 2011 from 10 am to 5 pm. Smithsonian Institution Archives experts, along with conservators, archivists, and librarians from across the Smithsonian, will offer timed slots for the public to consult with them on how to better care for their own archives-worthy items. This event is free and open to the public, but does require preregistration for the limited number of slots.
Last year, we had such an interesting turnout of people looking to find out more about objects in their personal collections. It seemed to me that people had mostly portraits, scrapbooks, or manuscript memorabilia left to them by elder generations, but I was only at one table and my colleagues reviewed many other items.
One scrapbook album I saw illustrated the brilliant career of a Latin American vaudevillian, and was brought in by his American granddaughter. Another woman brought portrait photographs recording two generations of her family’s military service—her grandfather-in-law's World War I military portrait in a fairly rare oversized photo button format. The other being her uncle’s portrait in uniform during his service in Puerto Rico in World War II, also adhered to rigid metal. Both of these had suffered dramatic tears, likely due to their expansion and contraction and the tensions built up against their rigid metal mounts in their transition from a more temperate environment to colder, drier DC in winter months.
Another pair of visitors brought in a beautifully assembled scrapbook from their family—a mother’s record of her daughter’s life from babyhood onward.
Another interesting object that our colleagues from the National Museum of American History encountered was a set of rare architectural renderings for sites in the Washington, DC region.
We look forward to seeing what you will bring in to the “Ask the Smithsonian” event next week, and as we did last year, we will have interactive displays to assist our visitors in implementing our practical advice, including examples of proper housing materials, how to choose and use these materials, and general advice for the care and preservation of collections.
Won’t you join us this year? For more information, and to register for the “Ask the Smithsonian Event” please see the Smithsonian Archives Month website or the registration below.