Wonder Woman is Suiting Up for a Showdown!

July 28, 2014

 Who flies an invisible plane, boasts equal parts strength and style, and says “SMITHSONIAN” like no other? Here’s a hint: it’s not Bao Bao the panda. If you guessed Wonder Woman, then you’re one step closer to helping us win the Smithsonian Summer Showdown and walking away with a prize of your own!

Jeremy Deller’s Artists’ Book “After the Gold Rush”

July 23, 2014

Jeremy Deller (British, 1966-) has been known for his art work that pulls his audience into actively discussing and confronting political, social, and historical issues. His video work English Magic (2012), on view now until August 2014 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is an example of this dynamic. The film was selected for the British Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale as the film served as a representation of British more »

Modern Extinction: Heath Hen

July 14, 2014

The story of the last Passenger Pigeon and the disappearance of the Great Auk, Carolina Parakeet, and Heath Hen reveal the fragile connections between species and their environment. To help tell their story, the Smithsonian Libraries, Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the National Museum of Natural History have curated a joint exhibit entitled Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America which opened June 24 in the National Museum of Natural History. 

Creating Meaning Together: A Selection of Collaborative Artists’ Books

July 11, 2014

—This post was contributed by Rita Sausmikat and Maya Riser-Kositsky, interns at the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library summer 2014. An “artist’s book” can generally be defined as a work of art in book form, though this guideline is interpreted and finessed to fit the artist’s vision. Commonly, artists’ books are portable and interactive, and utilize a plethora of methods, technologies, and materials. Just as with artwork, artists’ books often more »

Making Ice Cream in 1889

July 9, 2014

In June, we highlighted hand-folded ice cream containers. Because July is National Ice Cream Month, we decided to highlight another ice cream related item. This month we are highlighting an 1889 American Machine Co. trade catalog illustrating ice cream freezers.

Adopt Hand blocked wall papers!

July 7, 2014

Zuber et Cie, founded in 1797 by Jean Zuber, is one of the most important manufacturers of hand blocked and scenic wallpapers. In 1804, Zuber produced one of the earliest scenics called “Vue de Suisses,” and they continue to be known for the quality of their wood block printing. This rare catalogue documents Zuber’s work that reflects American tastes in the late 1920s. A few of the samples also directly relate to more »

Surf’s Up in Rare Books

July 2, 2014

While cataloging Polynesian Researches during a Residence of Nearly Eight Years in the Society and Sandwich Islands (London: 1831-1833; DU510 .E47 1831 SCNHRB), a transfer from the Department of State’s library to the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, I was intrigued by the title page vignette in the fourth volume of the set. Depicted in this little engraved scene is a group of surfers riding a break on narrow more »

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