Fantastic Worlds of the Natural Philosopher

The term “Natural Philosopher” was common in the early 19th century for someone who studied nature and the physical universe. It was not until the mid-19th century onward that the term scientist becoming more popular. Natural philosophers often pursued a wide variety of both scientific and artistic interests and offer a colorful glimpse into the world they inhabited.

The ABC’s of the Corcoran Artist Files: Bs

With the recent donation of the Corcoran Artist Vertical File Collection, the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library has started an ongoing series that provides a sneak peek into the integration of new Corcoran materials into the AA/PG Art and Artists Files collection called the “ABCs of the Corcoran Artist Vertical File Collection”. Every couple of weeks the AA/PG Library will explore a letter of the alphabet, featuring artists whose surnames begin with that letter in a display in the library. Currently on show are the Bs* of the Corcoran collection which contained a particularly colorful amount of new materials.

Color with us on National Coloring Book Day!

Sharpen your colored pencils! Tomorrow, August 2nd , is National Coloring Book Day! To celebrate, we’ve put together a second set of coloring pages based on images in our collection. The booklet, which features 11 pages of pretty pictures begging to be colored, is available as a downloadable pdf file (10 MB) on our webpage here. Shade in a few sea shells, diatom cells or fancy French fashion plates. Share your creations more »

Upcoming Events in August

The Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to host a full roster of events in the Washington DC area in the month of August. Topics include South African artists’ books, early natural history collections and more! All are tied to our current exhibitions: Artists’ Books and Africa, Color in a New Light and Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910. Click on the links in the event titles for additional details and RSVP information.

Caring for “The Red Man’s Rebuke”

A small book that is housed in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, was recently included in the exhibition Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations , at the National Museum of the American Indian.  The book, The Red Man’s Rebuke , was printed and distributed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago by Potawatomi Indian Simon Pokagon. Each measures about three and a more »

Happy 45th Birthday, Warren M. Robbins Library!

The Warren M. Robbins Library at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. From a collection of a few hundred books in Mr. Robbins’ personal collection in 1971, the Library has grown to a remarkable 50,000 volumes. It enjoys the reputation of being the premier library in the United States for the research and study of the visual arts of Africa. Our collection of 5,000 African more »

From Charlie Parker to Potato Chip Portraits: Exhibition of Recently Acquired Artists’ Books

The Smithsonian American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library is pleased to present an exhibition of some of its recently acquired artists’ books in the Library’s Reading Room. The books, all acquired in the last two years, range from mass-produced publications to unique, hand-made book works. The artworks show a range of subjects, from the very personal, family stories, to the cult of celebrity.

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