19 students and their two instructors from the Catholic University’s Art and Museum Libraries Institute were treated to a tour of the Museum Support Center (MSC) and the National Museum of American Indian’s Cultural Resources Center (NMAI/CRC) on Tuesday, July 27. Of course the libraries from both Centers were highlighted in the tours. This is the third consecutive year that the Libraries’ two Suitland-based librarians have hosted this group.
The MSC tour started at the MSC Library for a quick intro by MSC/NMNH librarian Gil Taylor on how the Libraries is meeting the challenges of 21st century library services. The group then was treated to a visit to the Museum Conservation Institute, expertly guided by MCI Tech Info Specialist Ann N’Gadi. At MCI, E. Keats Webb gave a tour of the MCI Imaging Studio, Mehdi Moini showed off some of his sophisticated and expensive analytical equipment. HaeMin Park and Jia-sun Tsang explained about the Paintings Studio with some real-life examples and then Don Williams regaled with the history of various furniture pieces under restoration. The group headed to wet-storage unit Pod 5 and were told many scientific fish tales by Dr. Jeff Williams, and included a look-see with a celebrity fish, the coelacanth. Afterwards, NMNH Collections Support staffer Joel Allen hosted a visit to the huge Pod 4 holdings, and detailed the careful care needed to store a myriad of fascinating objects of all sizes.
Following lunch at the MSC cafe, the group moved on to the NMAI/CRC where they had a general tour of the building led by NMAI Librarian, Lynne Altstatt. This tour included the indoor ceremonial area (which is the only room at the Smithsonian where you can light a fire), the NMAI Conservation Lab (where several Mellon fellows talked about their current projects), and the NMAI Library. At the library, the students were given information packets with materials for both the NMAI Library and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Lynne discussed the histories of the NMAI and the NMAI Library and also talked about the role of the Libraries at the Smithsonian. Several of the CUA students are hoping for library careers in a museum environment so there were several lively question and answer periods during the tour. It is always a pleasure to work with such enthusiastic guests.
Check the Libraries’ Flickr site for some more MSC tour photos.
—Lynne Altstatt and Gil Taylor