This post was written by Abigail Espiritu, a summer intern focusing on social media and the Libraries’ blog. This fall, Abigail will be entering her freshmen year at the University of Maryland where she will be majoring in journalism. On August 8th, 2017, the Smithsonian Libraries opened their newest exhibition in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Dazzling Diversity: The Insect World. The exhibition is located on the Ground Floor of more »
It was a very pleasant day when yours truly, Richard Naples, was announced as one of the winners of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Digital New Zealand (DigitalNZ) GIF IT UP contest. My entry, a flittering butterfly adapted from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, won in the Nature and Environment category of the recent contest. This international competition to find the best GIFs reusing public domain and openly licensed digital video, images, text and other material was a great way for DPLA and DigitalNZ to show off their amazing collections.
A bigger than life three-dimensional form of a bee emerges from this small 5 ½-inch book when the carousel mechanism is unfolded.
Would a fine 19th-century British lady be likely to shriek and swoon onto a fainting-couch upon seeing these images of monstrous-looking insects? Or would she eagerly pick up a paint brush and contemplate which colors she should use for the thorax and stinger? The English author, physician and scientist John Hill (1714?-1775) was certain that the sight of an amazing creature like the Mottled Saw-Fly, with its bulging eyes and curly antennae, would catch the fancy of artistically-inclined ladies. How do we know? The following two-line advertisement printed on the title-page verso of Hill's book, A Decade of Curious Insects (London: Printed for the author, 1773; QL466.H646 1773 SCNHRB) provides the answer: "Ladies who may chuse [i.e. choose] to paint these insects themselves may have sets of the cuts on royal paper printed pale for that purpose." A prolific author renowned for his literary quarrels with such luminaries as the satirist Henry Fielding and the Shakespearean actor David Garrick, John Hill helped to popularize the study of natural history. These more »
The Libraries' Cullman Library has acquired some new and interesting items this year. Here we highlight one of them: The Libraries has received Johannes Goedaert’s, Of insects. (York: John White, 1682). Goedaert (b. 1617 or 1620, d. 1668) was a Dutch landscape and flower painter, whose investigations into the metamorphosis of insects, based on personal observation, resulted in the first book to describe and illustrate the life cycles of a variety of European insects, Metamorphosis naturalis or Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum (first published in Middleburg, 1662). This classic text in entomology served as a foundation and model for subsequent entomologists. The Libraries holds two early editions of Goedaert’s seminal work, one in Dutch (dated 1662) and one in Latin (dated 1662 or 1669) as well as a later edition of the work re-titled De insectus (London, 1685). Of insects was translated into English by Martin Lister, the famous naturalist who edited, translated, and annotated Goedaert’s text; according to the preface, only 150 copies were printed. This rare English edition more »
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