Behind the Scenes on the Smithsonian-Gale Project

March 3, 2014

Last year, the Smithsonian began a partnership with Gale, part of Cengage Learning, to digitize content, package it, and make it available through libraries around the world. Gale debuted the first of these products with digital versions of the Smithsonian magazine and Air & Space magazine’s archive. The Smithsonian Libraries is excited to be a part of the second group of products, Smithsonian Collections Online: World’s Fairs & Expositions: Visions Of Tomorrow more »

Smithsonian Libraries Research Opportunities 2015

January 27, 2014

Situated at the center of the world’s largest museum complex, the Smithsonian Libraries is a vital part of the research, exhibition, and educational enterprise of the Institution. Each Smithsonian scholar engages in an individual voyage of discovery using the artifacts and specimens of the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with the Libraries’ written and illustrated record of the past. The Libraries is uniquely positioned to help scholars understand the continuing vitality of this more »

Joseph Dimuro, Baird Society Resident Scholar

January 21, 2014

When asked about his summer research on the Ferris wheel, Resident Scholar Joseph Dimuro’s eyes gleamed like a child who had just ridden one for the first time. He replied, “Not just any Ferris wheel – the

12 Months of Renewed Commitment

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once said that “a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” The Smithsonian Libraries are passionate about renewing our commitment to serving the global community as a public and academic library system. We have enhanced our digital accessibility, public programs, and events while adding new fellowship opportunities, resulting in more in-person traffic than ever before. This increase in activity is made possible thanks to the continued support of our dedicated donors.

Yesterday’s World of Tomorrow: A Souvenir from the World’s Fair

This post was contributed by Rachel Blier, an intern for the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library from June to September 2012. One of my favorite parts of my time at the AA/PG library has been working with the rare books collection. Between the artists’ books, the unusual cartoons and caricatures in the Ray Smith collection, and the occasional doodle or signature from an artist, it’s a very exciting part of the library—and one that an ordinary visitor wouldn’t have the opportunity to see.

The Crystal Palace

Tomorrow, May 1st, marks the 161ist anniversary of the opening of the The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations in London. The Great Exhibition was a display of arts, culture, and of course industry, from around the world and remained open until October of that year.  It was the first grand international exposition of the type that would later be called “world’s fairs”.

Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

Typically, February 14th is a day set aside for love, flowers and candy. For those in a less romantic spirit, we suggest celebrating Ferris Wheel Day instead! Ferris Wheel Day celebrates the birthday of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. and his most famous invention.  This image, from Hubert Howe Bancroft's The book of the fair : an historical and descriptive presentation of the world's science, art, and industry, as viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 (Chicago, San Francisco: The Bancroft Company, 1895), shows the very first Ferris Wheel at the Columbian Exposition's Midway Plaisance. Ferris build the attraction, sometimes know as the "Chicago Wheel", as a landmark for the Fair. After being dismantled and rebuilt multiple times all over the country, it was finally destroyed in 1906. Bancroft's work, featured here, is one of many titles on World's Fairs and Expositions in the Smithsonian Libraries collections. Both the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum branches have extensive holdings more »

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