December 1st is the 170th birthday of William Henry Holmes, the Smithsonian’s own Renaissance man. Early in the Smithsonian’s history, Holmes served as the head of the Anthropology Department and later the first director of what would become the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Starting today, we’re celebrating his legacy.
Since 2014, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library (HMSG) has received grants totalling $15,000 to catalog materials of Latin American artists. Former Smithsonian American Art Museum Curatorial Assistant, Florencia Bazzano-Nelson, explains why these materials are important:
“Scholarly holdings regarding Latin American art are important because they provide the historical and cultural context for many artists in these collections … In a global environment, it is important for us to understand what is happening in the arts of other places, especially those places that have maintained a fluid cultural dialogue with the United States for more than two centuries.”
Funds for this ongoing project were provided by the Washington Art Library Resources Committee (WALRC). This non-profit is made up of research institutions related to art and architecture in the metropolitan DC area. With their support, the HMSG library has had over 200 materials processed so far. Below are some highlights from the recently cataloged items.
Native Americans have had a tremendous impact in numerous arenas of American life. This is particularly true in the visual arts. In celebration of Native American Heritage Month we’re highlighting artists of American Indian descent who have had a significant presence in the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library’s collections.
Recently, you may have heard about the ways art from the Hudson River School has been a source of inspiration for new artistic works. Well, the luminous landscape paintings have inspired us, too. In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to highlight a couple of African American artists with ties the school. These artists have paintings in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection as well as an Art and Artist Files in the American Art/Portrait Gallery Library.
When working a in a library, sometimes you come across a book that demands your attention. I was recently captivated by Color: American Photography Transformed, a gorgeous catalogue from Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Nearly every page features large plates of snapshots, advertisements, and artworks. Each seems as fresh and vibrant as they must have appeared to their first viewers.