Levi Hill’s Treatise on Heliochromy

As film photography becomes more and more a thing of the past, the pioneering works that examined what could be achieved with chemicals, paper, glass and light become more important and valuable.  Michelle Delaney, associate curator of the Photographic History Collection at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), has been working with several others, including staff at the Getty Conservation Institute, to examine a little-studied and long-disputed process some believe to be the earliest example of color photography. Focusing on a collection of Levi Hill’s own "Hillotypes" (a kind of daguerreotype) at NMAH, their collaboration has uncovered some intriguing facts about Hill’s process, and answered many of the unknowns.  You can read more about the project here and here. Delaney alerted us to the sale of Hill’s Treatise on Heliochromy, and describes the book as "a truly significant book in the history of photography."  It provides an important complement to their current research and to the Smithsonian’s collection of rare Hillotypes, and we are happy to now have it more »

President Bush and Our Oceans — Up Close

Tomorrow is the opening of the new Sant Ocean Hall in the National Museum of Natural History, and today I had the privilege of being in the Baird Auditorium to hear remarks from President Bush concerning his administration’s efforts to protect our oceans.  Regardless of party affiliation, it is exciting to be in the vicinity of the President, as the Secret Service operates the security measures needed to keep our leaders safe.  The central core of the museum was closed to staff and public until 11am today when the visit concluded.  We waited in the auditorium while the President toured the new exhibition and learned about what Smithsonian scientists are doing to learn about our oceans to underpin protection efforts.  Touring with him were our new Secretary Clough, Chairman of the Board of Regents Roger Sant (for whom the exhibition gallery is named), Natural History Museum Director Cristian Samper, and other dignitaries. President Bush said "oceans are important as an economic lifeline" and spoke of the 88-point "Ocean Action Plan" more »

Algonquin Indian Primer

Western Abenaki is an almost extinct form of the Algonquin language indigenous to Quebec on the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City.  This book is a purchase from the Frank T. Siebert sale.  Siebert was a pathologist and scholar of Penobscot Indian linguistics.  He amassed one of the largest and most complete collections of books on North American Indian linguistics ever known.  His collection was dispersed at auction by Sotheby’s in 1999 after his death in 1998. Native American Indian linguistics is a subject that Smithsonian Institution Libraries is committed to collecting.  Catalog records for other Indian readers our collection can be found in SIRIS, the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System catalog.

Edward Donovan’s Insects of Australia

Edward Donovan (1768-1837) was a British naturalist and natural history painter, who founded the London Museum and Institute of Natural History largely from his own collections.  His work on New Holland, New Zealand, and New Guinea is the first systematic and illustrated survey of the insects of Australia based on the collections gathered during the famous first voyage of Captain James Cook throughout the Pacific between 1768 and 1771.  Significantly, a copy of this work was used by scientists as a reference during the United States Exploring Expedition from 1838-1842. The Cullman Library collects natural history narratives of scientific voyages, and holds the complete works of the three voyages of Captain Cook, as well as the complete works of the United States Exploring Expedition (in both print and digital formats). More information on these books can be found in SIRIS, the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System catalog.

Learn the Art of Hanji Papermaking with the Smithsonian

Art and Science of Hanji:   Past and Future of a Papermaking Tradition   from Jeonju, Korea Friday, October 3, 2008 6:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.   at the   Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden   Ring Auditorium   Independence Avenue at Seventh Street, SW   Washington, DC Hanji papermaking, an ancient technique which utilizes the bark of the Korean   mulberry tree, is still employed today to create beautiful textured paper art   and sculpture. We invite you to join the Smithsonian’s Libraries, Asian Cultural History Program and Office of Policy and Analysis to learn more about   this process, its use and conservation. Our speakers will be Paul Michael Taylor, Director of the Asian Cultural History at the Smithsonian, and Hajin Song, Mayor of Jeonju City, Korea. This program is also sponsored by Office of the Mayor, Jeonju City, Korea and   KI Creative Group and is being held in conjunction with the opening of the new   Hanji Exhibition at KORUS House, 2370 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. Washington, more »

Outreach with the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Their museum may not be open yet, but the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is already reaching out to a national community by holding events such as their "Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative" in cities around the US.  The program is a series of one-day events designed to encourage individuals and families to identify, protect and preserve  "family treasures" for future generations. Saturday, September 13th, was the third event in the series, and was held at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC.  It was a full day of classroom presentations on preserving clothing, textiles, photographs, and paper, and also establishing provenance.  There were a number of conservators and curators on hand in the "Hometown Treasures" room for one-on-one review sessions with participants who had brought in up to three items from their personal collections.  Participants brought in all kinds of treasures, including photographs, portraits, letters, bibles, and quilts and met with reviewers for advice on proper care and handling of artifacts or more »

James Neal Talks at the Smithsonian

On September 8, Jim Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, gave a presentation at the Smithsonian Institution titled We Can’t Get There From Here: The Intersection of Research Library Aspirations and Copyright Challenges. Jim reminded us that libraries, museums and archives are living in times of revolutionary changes in user expectations, personal computing, digital preservation, open source, open content, push technology, and a huge shift to mobile technology.  Libraries, museums and archives are facing changing roles as Research and Development organizations, publishers, educators, entrepreneurs and policy makers as we incorporate Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 into our services. James Neal LectureOriginally uploaded by Smithsonian Libraries Library Web 2.0 embraces rapid technology development and deployment, perpetual assessment, boundary erosion, and supports the needs of BIG science (massive unstructured data curation, collaboration, extraction, distribution, and simulation). Jim also said these are times for organizational risk taking and new organizational models, and a time to rethink library space planning and identity. As a result we are all feeling anxious, more »

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