Monoceros: What Conrad Gessner’s discussion of the unicorn tells us about natural history in Renaissance Europe

This post was written by James Truitt, intern in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. In August, the National Museum of Natural History opened Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, an exhibition about the tusked whale monodon monoceros sometimes called the unicorn of the sea. Most of the exhibit focuses on narwhal biology, arctic ecology, and Inuit culture, but one section breaks from the polar theme to explore another legacy of more »

Passing the Torch: George Grosz to Marshall Glasier to Robert Cenedella

In conjunction with the recently opened exhibition “Igniting Artistic Consciousness: Ephemera of Twentieth Century Instructors of the Art Students League of New York” produced by Michelle Ibarra at the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library, the blog has been exploring themes and artists featured in the exhibit, which will be on display through December 2017. Interested in the Art Students League and participating in Wikipedia? Join us for the Art Students more »

‘The whole man at once:’ scientific identities at the Dibner Library – Augustin-Louis Cauchy

“George Sarton, a founder of the history of science as an academic discipline, argued that scholars should pay close attention to portraits. These images, he said, can give you ‘the whole man at once.’ With a ‘great portrait,’ Sarton believed, ‘you are given immediately some fundamental knowledge of him, which even the longest descriptions and discussions would fail to evoke.’ Sarton’s ideas led Bern Dibner to purchase portrait prints of men and women of science and technology. Many of these are now in the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.” – Deborah Jean Warner, Curator, Physical Sciences Collection A picture may tell 1000 words, but another 500 for context can add depth to the image. Follow this blog series to discover the people behind the portraits available online in the Scientific Identity collection.  

The ABC’s of the Corcoran Artist Files: the F’s

In the series called “The ABCs of the Corcoran Artist Files” the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library will explore artists through the materials from the recent Corcoran Vertical File Collection donation by featuring artists whose surnames begin with that letter. This time we are looking at the artists whose last names that start with F.

Beer on Board in the Age of Sail

Brewing and seafaring are mainstays of ancient human endeavors. Beer was first fermented by at least the 5th millennium BC in Mesopotamia. From the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of the Fertile Crescent, the grain beverage either traveled along trade routes or was spontaneously developed in other ancient civilizations (including Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Norse, Aztec, Chinese) before landing in northern Europe in the early medieval period. Producing beer became a more »

‘The whole man at once:’ Scientific identities at the Dibner Library – Maria Gaetana Agnesi

“George Sarton, a founder of the history of science as an academic discipline, argued that scholars should pay close attention to portraits. These images, he said, can give you ‘the whole man at once.’ With a ‘great portrait,’ Sarton believed, ‘you are given immediately some fundamental knowledge of him, which even the longest descriptions and discussions would fail to evoke.’ Sarton’s ideas led Bern Dibner to purchase portrait prints of men and more »

Finding family ties in the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library

On a rainy April morning, Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board member Amy Threefoot Valeiras and her family visited the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG). What they found surprised everyone! Anne Evenhaugen and Alexandra Reigle, staff at the AA/PG Library, selected a variety of books and artists’ books to show our visitors. One of these was a carte de visite book, featuring photographic trading cards for nineteenth-century American painters. (What is a more »

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