Medium 9781442267527

Collections Vol 1 N1

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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5 Articles

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Opinions

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John E. Heyning

President of the Natural Science Collection Alliance and Deputy Director of Research and Collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Country, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90007 (jeh@nhm.org). Opinions in this article represent those of the author and may or may not reflect that of the individual NSC A members.

Curators laid off, collections mothballed or transferred to other institutions, university museums shut down entirely—natural science collections and associated programs of specimen-based research are in crisis. The situation is typically characterized as a financial crisis, the result of an economic downswing that affects virtually every sector of society. However, resources for research and collections programs are often slashed disproportionately. Thus, the crisis is not a straightforward financial crisis per se, as the disproportional loss of monetary support is a symptom of the deeper crises swirling around these collections. Unless the underlying causes of these crises are more widely understood and rectified, collections-based institutions will continually suffer excessively during economic hard times.

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Archives and Museums: Balance and Development in Presidential Libraries

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Susannah Benedetti

Special Formats Catalog Librarian and Lecturer, Randall Library, University of North Carolina—Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403 (benedettis@uncw.edu).

AbstractThe nation’s presidential libraries are pillars of the American archival profession, and their adjoining museums serve as popular tourist destinations. Franklin D. Roosevelt created the modern presidential library with both elements in place, to ensure access to enduring documentary evidence of the presidency for the scholarly community as well as the general public. What are the origins of Roosevelt’s decision? How did his successors tailor their individual presidential libraries to reflect their desires and the standards of changing times and expectations? Has the dual mission of archival and museum operations retained its balance and integrity over the intervening sixty-plus years? An overview of the origins and development of the presidential library system seeks to answer these questions and reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

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Critical Concepts Concerning Non-Living Collections

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Stephen L. Williams

Assistant Professor in the Department of Museum Studies, Baylor University, P. O. Box 97154, Waco, Texas 76798-7154 (Steve_Williams@baylor.edu).

AbstractThe role of museum collections has evolved through time to the point that there is now some ambiguity about the future of non-living collections. Attempts are made to provide new direction for museum collections by addressing four critical concepts. The first concept distinguishes museum collections from other types of assemblages. The second concept addresses the use of collection terminology, specifically distinguishing between accessioning and cataloging. The third concept promotes the development of a common code of ethics, based on a comparison of five codes that currently serve collection interests. The fourth concept attempts to reclaim the museum as the unique institution that fulfills collection-related functions. These concepts collectively complement one another in building a brighter future for collections and the museum field.

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Collecting Theories: Mexican-American Archives at the University of Texas, Benson Latin American Collection (1974–2003)

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Maria E. Gonzalez

Doctoral candidate in Preservation and Conservation Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Sánchez Building (SZB) 564, 1 University Station D7000, Austin, Texas 78712-0390 (gonzalez@ischool.utexas.edu).

AbstractThe Mexican American Library Program (MALP) of the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas (UT) will celebrate its 30th anniversary during the fall of 2004. The staff is anticipating significant changes and evaluating the program’s stated objectives and options for future directions. New and broader perspectives about ethnic identity are pressuring shifts in collection patterns for the Mexican American Library Program archives as well as in the documentation strategies for ethnic archives. The story of the Mexican American archives reflects student protests during the 1970s, the expanding historiography of Chicano and Latino Studies, and informs archival appraisal theory.

The Mexican American Library Program (MALP) at the University of Texas (UT) was founded to support the study and research of Chicanos and Chicanas. Shortly after MALP was established, the library staff began to enhance the program by collecting the personal papers and archives of Mexican American individuals and organizations related to the Chicano movement. Like most other ethnic archives, the archival collection was “begun in order to fill a vacuum that existed in the collection and preservation policies and practices of traditional archival institutions” (Biddle and Jenkins 1983, 274). From its beginning, however, MALP collection development also capitalized on the university’s existing manuscript holdings, which by 1974 included substantial testimony of the indigenous, Spanish colonial and Mexican histories of the Southwest. By the 1980s the mission of MALP and of its archives consciously expanded “to serve as a cultural depository for the greater Mexican American community of Texas.”1 Thirty years later—having acquired a comprehensive list of published materials on Chicanos, Mexican Americans, and Hispanics in the United States—MALP is now poised to fill an even broader mission in support of the study of Latino cultures as that study takes on intercontinental dimensions. How the MALP archives—until now focused on the contemporary Mexican American experience—can support the broader scope of Latino studies is not clear at the moment. This decision point is challenging in practice and exciting for what it may suggest to archival theory.

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The Maverick Collector: The Method in the Madness of Peggy Guggenheim

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Emma Acker

Masters candidate in art history, with a specialization in museum studies, in the Department of Art History, Von Kleinsmid Center-VKC351, University’of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0047; she also is a research assistant to the Head of Collections Development, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Center, 1200 Getty> Center Drive, Suite 1100, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688 (acker@usc.edu). Current address: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

AbstractThe twentieth-century matron, dealer, and gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim crafted both a highly public image and a personal identity through her writings, collecting, and exhibition practice. Through her outrageous social behavior, outspoken interviews with the press, and scandalous memoirs, Guggenheim presented herself as a bohemian libertine, with little or no serious intentions other than to live as brazen and unfettered a lifestyle as possible. However, by all accounts other than her own, Guggenheim was an avid learner and teacher, and her anti-intellectualism and playful irreverence belied her ultimate concern with garnering recognition as an important figure in the art world. Ultimately, Guggenheim’s rejection of more conventional modes of collecting and display in favor of the role of social impresario and fashionable eccentric enabled her to produce and promote her own image as an iconic and pioneering figure in the history of patronage.

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