A dinosaur tail hauled past exhibits, a diorama of nesting flamingoes no longer on display, a teeth-cleaning job for a Killer Whale replica: it's all just part of the rich photographic history of education and exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, now online in Picturing the Museum.
"Anyone who loves the Museum will be completely entranced by this new website. My father used to bring me to the Museum when I was a kid, and this is where I discovered the joy of intellectual discovery," says Barbara Mathe, Museum Archivist and Head of Library Special Collections at the Museum's Research Library. "I'm not the only one--several people have already told me they've spent hours poring over the images."
Picturing the Museum is an exhibit of nearly a thousand images for those interested in Museum history, looking for artful inspiration, or curious about natural history. The Museum has a long tradition of and mandate for public education that began at the Museum's inception: founder Albert Bickmore gave lectures illustrated with lantern slides to expose the public and teachers to the wonders of the natural world. The Research Library began this current project after receiving a digitization grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council. They are now continuing the work by engaging many volunteers to scan photographs. "We have three machines and hope to keep them operating all day, every day," says Mathe.
The ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive online database of over half a million images documenting the work of the Museum world-wide. In addition to the images on the current website, there are another 12,000 photographs scanned and online capacity for 186,000 more. Within two years, look for images from the famed Jesup expedition to the Pacific Northwest and Siberia between 1897 and 1902; the donated collection of Julian Dimock's portraits of life in the southern United States; and photos from Carl Lumholtz' expeditions to Mexico, documenting the Huichol and Tarahumara cultures.
"Every time I look, I find a new favorite," says Tom Baione, Acting Director of the Library. "Right now, it's the image of 'story hour' in front of a diorama--the gemsboks appear to be listening in." Visit images.library.amnh.org to find your favorite.
Named Works: Picturing the Museum (Website) Service introduction
Source Citation:"Picturing history.(At the Museum: AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY)(Website overview)." Natural History 117.9 (Nov 2008): 52(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 8 Sept. 2009
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