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Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Big Thank You to the White Gloves Gang!

This week saw the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) meeting in Philadelphia. On Sunday our facilities manager Stacey Hendricks talked about our 2008 gallery relighting project as part of a panel and on Wednesday the Rosenbach were lucky enough to be a project site for the White Gloves Gang, organized by the Registrars Committee of MAAM.

The White Gloves Gang are volunteers who undertake a day of collections-project work in the conference host city. Karen Schoenewaldt, our registrar, put our six Gang volunteers to work rehousing phonograph records from the Marianne Moore collection and rehousing and integrating our newspaper collection. I am especially excited about the newspaper project, since I have been using that collection heavily in preparing for our Civil War 150 exhibitions and programs and the rehousing will not only help protect the newspapers, but will also make them easier to locate and access. Archival supplies (mylar sleeves, acid-free folders, etc.) were generously donated by Gaylord, University Products, and Conservation Resources and financial support came from Willis Fine Art and Crozier Fine Art.

So a big thank you to all our volunteers--Batja Bell, Jobi Zink, Andy Deock, Kirsten Wise, Floss Izzo, and Derek Jones--and to all the in-house staff (especially Karen Schoenewaldt and Elizabeth Fuller) who made this productive day possible. Here are a few pictures of the Gang in action.

Making acid-free folders--those newspapers are big.

The Gang at work--this gives you a sense of the size of the project.

Our hard-working registrar, hard at work with some Moore records.

No actual white gloves (they might snag on the paper)--but definitely handling with care.

Friday, October 22, 2010

If Only There Were More than 24 Hours in a Day

First off, a quick bit of vampire news to go along with tomorrow's Dracula events. Those of you who followed the Lincoln project last year may recall the Seth Grahame-Smith mash-up novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I just found out that 21st-Century Fox has won the rights to the movie version, to be produced by Tim Burton. Supposedly it will arrive on a big 3D screen near you in 2012. I have to admit I'm intrigued.

Most of my week was spent editing text for the upcoming Civil War Begins exhibit, which although incredibly necessary (believe me!) does not make for good blog posts. So I thought I'd give you folks a few links to some projects I've heard about that I wish I had the time to do, if only there were more than 24 hours in a day.

1) Live in a museum for a month. A young woman named Kate McGroarty won a contest from the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago to actually live in the museum for a month (yes, she'll sleep there too) and blog about her experience. The Museum 2.0 blog gives a great run-down of some of the best contest entries. Apparently a number of museum staffers submitted entries and I can understand why--if working in a museum is great (and it is), how awesome would it be to get to live there?

2) Transcribe the writings of Jeremy Bentham. The University College, London is in possession of 60,000 documents by the philosopher, thousands of which have not been transcribed. There's a project afoot by the college to encourage regular folks to transcribe the papers over the Internet. You can find out all the details here. Also, in deference to the Halloween season, I would be remiss if I didn't also point out that the college also has Bentham's preserved body, which his will requested be displayed as a public memorial; but as far as I know there's no need for any transcription of this item.

3) Improve my writing. The I Write Like site will analyze a sample of your writing and tell you which author you resemble. When I put in one of my blog posts, it came back as Dan Brown, which wasn't exactly encouraging. Maybe with a little effort I could aspire to Danielle Steel? For anyone who struggles with motivation , rather than quality (I struggle with both), you might be interested to know that National Novel Writing Month is in November, so you still have a week and a half to gird your loins and prepare to write the Great American Novel.

That's it Rosen-friends until next week, when I hope to report on the work of the White Gloves Gang who will descend upon the Rosenbach--don't you want to know what that's about! Well tune in next week...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Portraits of Civil War Heroes--An Update

In late August we posted about Dave Burrell's fourth composition for the Rosenbach, which is entitled Portraits of Civil War Heroes and will premier January 19 & 22. To further whet your appetite, Farrar Fitzgerald, our intrepid Sunstein Family Assistant Director of Education, has filmed a couple of short interviews with Dave about his upcoming work. In the videos he talks about two parts of the new composition-- John Brown: Life and John Brown: Death. The sound is a bit echoey from filming in the library (all those hard bookcases), but they're well worth a look.

You can also find the videos linked from Dave's concerts in the January programs section of our website. To find out more about John Brown and to see some of our John Brown holdings you can check out this blog post from his 150th, back in 2009. We will also have some of our John Brown material, including letters and drawings, in our Civil War Begins exhibit, which will open on December 15th.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Going a Bit Batty

First of all, thanks to everyone who made last week's Banned Books Week a success. If you weren't at the Authors of Mischief reading, you might enjoy this post from the blogger at "A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings," who was.

Now we are into Dracula season--check out this nice feature from WRTI on our Dracula material. In preparing the Dracula Festival postcards a few weeks ago one of our staff members asked me if we had any images of bats to use. When the topic is animals I always start by turning to Buffon's Histoire Naturelle, which if you've been on a house tour is the enormous run of red-bound encyclopedia volumes that lives on the north wall of the library.

George Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon was the director of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and was preeminent naturalist of the eighteenth-century. In quintessentially Enlightenment fashion he wanted to create a book which encompassed all that was known about nature. He worked on it from 1749 until his death in 1788 and the project was continued posthumously. (As an aside, in volume five he brought up his theory of American Degeneracy, which led to a challenge from Thomas Jefferson, which you can read about on these great pages from the Academy of Natural Science) Anyway, I pulled one of Buffon's volumes of quadrupeds off the shelf and lo and behold, there was picture after picture of bats.

Bats with enormous ears, posed against scenic mountain backdrops...

One of the neat things about our copy of Histoire Naturelle, is that it contains multiple state of the same plate--here's another version of the same bats...

Here are some bats with funny noses, hanging around in caves, although that block of stone in the lower right background seems awfully squared off...

...which may be connected to the penchant for showing animals against picturesque ruins, like this bat here.

These are only some of the great bat pictures brought to us courtesy of Buffon, but you'll have to make a reading room appointment to scope out the rest and go batty yourself!
All images from George Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Histoire naturelle. Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1749-[1803or 4] C3 .B929h