The Last Jedi’s Monastic Retreat

The Skellig Islands. More stunning and other-worldly than any of the special effects of the past two Star Wars movies is the real-life towering rock outcroppings glimpsed in the closing moments of The Force Awakens (2015) and now playing a starring role in the blockbuster, The Last Jedi (2017). Although the Great Skellig, also known as Skellig Michael and Sceilig Mhichíl, and the Lesser (or Little) Skellig appear to be in a more »

‘The whole man at once:’ scientific identities at the Dibner Library — Edward Jenner

“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 »

William Henry Holmes and the early days of his National Gallery of Art

From November 28th through December 9th, the Smithsonian Libraries, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Smithsonian Field Book Project and Smithsonian Transcription Center will host the #ManyHatsofHolmes transcription event. Help us transcribe the digitized volumes of William Henry Holmes’ Random Records of a Lifetime, 1846-1931 to discover more about his expeditions, adventures and his Smithsonian days. Throughout the campaign, we’ll take a deeper look at Holmes’ life through particpating blogs and share more »

The Fix: Der Weltkrieg, an Adopt-a-Book Story

  A scrapbook from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology came to the book conservation lab though our Adopt-a-Book program. Through the program, patrons can adopt a book for preservation or acquisition. This unusual book is a scrapbook used to house collectible cards that were found in cigarette packets in Germany during the 1930s. The binding was stapled and difficult to open because the staples were attached to the paper about 2 cm from the spine. The staples had also begun to oxidize further endangering the brittle paper. Several of the collectible cards were missing and almost all of the cards were detached or loose. The cards had been affixed to the scrapbook with an adhesive that degraded, losing its ability to hold the cards on the pages. A further concern was that the cards had information on the back of them. While this information matched the information on the scrapbook page it was in a different script. The scrapbook pages were in Fraktur script but the cards in a modern German script. This was a more »

The End of the Tour – and Still No Hard Feelings

The Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, to commemorate the American Bicentennial, invited members of England’s Royal Yachting Association to journey to the Eastern Seaboard for the “No Hard Feelings Cruise.” Sixty-two British sailors took up the offer, and with more than 300 others, embarked on eighty-nine yachts to race and explore the waters of the Chesapeake Bay in 1976.

Designing Women: The Hewitt Sisters and The Remaking of a Modern Museum (Part 2)

This is a two-part series on the Hewitt sisters. Read part one. By 1897, Sarah and Eleanor had collected enough to formally open their museum on the fourth floor of the Cooper Union. In the tradition of their grandfather, the Hewitt sisters wanted to actualize a museum and library that were not just a showcase, but also tools—places that students and designers could come to for reference and inspiration, then go out more »

Designing Women: The Hewitt Sisters and The Remaking of a Modern Museum (Part 1)

This is a two-part series on the Hewitt sisters. Deep in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library’s collection of rare books, one might be surprised to come across children’s illustrated books by Walter Crane and Beatrix Potter. Even more fascinating might be the origin of these tomes, for in this collection are the very books read by the founding sisters of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum: Sarah (Sallie) and Eleanor (Nellie) more »

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