Happy first day of spring!

Dance of the Stars, University of Maryland May Day, circa 1923-1931

Dance of the Stars, University of Maryland May Day, circa 1923-1931

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary and her Flowers. From the

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary and her Flowers. From the “Mother Gooseland” themed 1928 May Day celebrations. This image is also featured in the 1928 Reveille yearbook, page 273.

It’s grey and gloomy in upstate New York, but I have hope that spring is on its way!

Check out more University of Maryland May Day images here.


Crowdfunding an exhibit

Librarians, archivists, and museum curators are constantly having to get creative with services and programming in the face of frequent budget cuts. Exhibits and displays – key parts of any cultural institution – can take up a lot of space in an already tight budget. Grants, sponsors, and donations certainly help, but what other avenues for funding should information professionals consider?

At the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg in Germany, ten graduate students in the Museum Studies program are using a newer method of raising money for their exhibit: crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, as defined by Mashable.com, is “the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their resources, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.” Crowdfunding is often used to support disaster relief efforts, political campaigns, startup companies, musical artists, and product development. If people are willing to spend money on these initiatives, would they be willing to fund an exhibit, program, or service at a cultural institution?

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American Institute of Physics exhibit installed

This past fall I had an internship in the Niels Bohr Library & Archives at the American Institute of Physics. The goal of my internship was to curate a small exhibit featuring their fantastic oral history collection, and we finally installed the exhibit last week.

If you are in the area you are welcome to visit the exhibit; AIP is open to visitors during business hours. The exhibit will be up for the next few months, and the poster I put together for the iSchool Experiential Learning Expo is on display as well.

Read my other posts about the field study.

Auzoux bug models pop-up exhibit

While working at the UMD University Archives, I had the chance to fill a display case in our reading room with some amazing papier-mâché models we acquired this past summer. The models – a silkworm larva and a male and female silkworm moth – were made in the workshop of French anatomist and naturalist Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux (1797–1880). You can read more about the models in a blog post I wrote for the archives’ blog. There you can also see shots where the models are taken apart, and a photo c.1900 of students using the bugs during class.

American Institute of Physics field study update

Over the past week and a half, I have begun working on the actual layout of my exhibit at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. I have edited and finalized my captions, chosen all my photos, and selected objects to include in the cases.

Last week, my supervisor and I taped out the two cases I’ll be filling in the library. Because most of my materials are documents and photographs, I’ve decided to add several objects involved in the process of making an oral history. These include an oral historian’s tools, such as a tape recorder and a digital recorder, as well as examples of the final recordings, such as 5″ and 7″ reels, cassette tapes, and CDs. I especially like the fact that the actual tape recorder I’ve chosen is visible in several of the photographs on display – it’s a nice way of connecting different parts of the exhibit.

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Field study at the American Institute of Physics

American Institure of Physics

American Institute of Physics. Photo courtesy of the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

My MLS field study is at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives at the American Institute of Physics. I will be curating an exhibit featuring the archives’ collection of oral history interviews, which consists of more than 1,500 recordings with physicists, astronomers, and other scientists. Staff at the archives are working to digitize all of the transcripts and make them searchable. They plan to have over 1,000 of the transcripts available online by this spring, and want to highlight this valuable and unique research collection.

So far, I’ve spent about half of my field study researching these scientists. I have to say my knowledge of physics and the history of physics is rather lacking, but reading these interviews has been like taking a crash course. Yes, some of the terms and ideas these men and women talk about are over my head, but a lot of their discussions focus more on the human element rather than the physics side of things. My favorite part of this research is seeing the connections between these scientists. The physics world (and related sciences) is like one big family tree: everyone is linked to each other by their teachers, students, colleagues, friends, spouses, and on and on until the entire field is connected in one great web of scientists. Even though I still couldn’t tell you the difference between a mass spectrometer and a cyclotron, I know and appreciate so much more about these incredible people and their work.

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