William Henry Holmes and the early days of his National Gallery of Art

From November 28th through December 9th, the Smithsonian Libraries, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Smithsonian Field Book Project and Smithsonian Transcription Center will host the #ManyHatsofHolmes transcription event. Help us transcribe the digitized volumes of William Henry Holmes’ Random Records of a Lifetime, 1846-1931 to discover more about his expeditions, adventures and his Smithsonian days. Throughout the campaign, we’ll take a deeper look at Holmes’ life through particpating blogs and share more »

Celebrating Our Man of Many Hats: William Henry Holmes

December 1st is the 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes, the Smithsonian’s own Renaissance man. Early in the Smithsonian’s history, Holmes served as the head of the Anthropology Department and later the first director of what would become the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Starting today, we’re celebrating his legacy.

Hard-edged, Bright Color: Pure Color

In conjunction with the exhibition “Hard-edged, Bright Color: The Washington Color School” at the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library, the blog will be exploring the group of color artists to accompany the exhibit running until late spring. We’ll be exploring three of the “first generation” Washington Color School artists: Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis. You can read the first post in this series here. The 1950s and 1960s more »

The Fix: Custom Protection for a Flexagon Book

Recently an Artist’s Book, from the American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library, arrived at the Conservation Lab in need of a suitable protective housing.  The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Carolyn Shattuck is a “flexagon” book, a flexible structure made from a chain of tetrahedrons. The book can be manipulated into different shapes and has many vibrant illustrations on the various facets. (Click the Hyperlinks to explore more about this book more »

Jihad in 19th Century Sudan, Part I

Egypt, Sudan, and Jihad are much in the news today. What follows is a brief overview of some of the history behind the news. We begin with “Part I: The Mahdi’s world: Social and Political Conditions”, to be followed by “Part II: The Mahdi’s world: Slavery, Bedrock of Sudan’s Economy” and “Part III: The Mahdi:  The Rise and Fall of the Mahdist State”. This blog series was written by Judith Schaefer, volunteer more »

Hard-edged, Bright Color: The Washington Color School.

With the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Gene Davis: Hot Beat, the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library is hosting a complementary exhibition of ephemera showcasing a group known as the Washington Color Painters, or perhaps better recognized by their more dubious title, the Washington Color School.

Toriyama Sekien’s Spooky Parade

This post was contributed by Matt Alt. Matt is the co-founder of AltJapan Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based localization company that specializes in producing the English versions of Japanese games, manga, and other entertainment. Together with Hiroko Yoda he is the co-author of Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and the upcoming Japandemonium Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien which features images from the Smithsonian Libraries volumes of Toriyma Sekien’s works. 

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