Medium 9781442267824

Collections Vol 8 N3

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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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From the Editor

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This issue of the journal entices readers by asking questions. First, Sharon Loving and Richard Stamelman ask us to consider the possibility of curating an exhibition about scent. In discussing their exhibition, Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance held at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, they share with us myriad efforts through conception, planning, organization, and realization from day one, more than seven years ago now, to the exhibition’s launch in 2010. Their article demonstrates the difficulties of describing scents visually, linguistically, and olfactorily, while at the same time, evidences the incredibly rich collaboration among horticulturists, designers, and curator. Their efforts and the resultant exhibition, along with their participatory experience for visitors, offer much food for thought for collections professionals everywhere.

Next, Georgia Barnhill, Founding Director of the Center for Historic American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society, asks us to heed the benefits of exploiting collections. In particular, she addresses the visual—i.e., prints and photographs that demonstrate the extent to which such materials are not mere illustrations, but rich examples of material culture. In addition, she comments on the AAS’s other collections, including newspapers and serials, children’s literature, almanacs, and other publication types. Treat yourself to visual elegance as you peruse Barnhill’s article, including the reproduction of the litho on the cover of this issue of the journal.

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Longwood Gardens The Making of “Making Scents”

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The Making of “Making Scents”

Sharon Loving

Horticulture Department Head, Longwood Gardens; P.O. Box 501, Kennett Square, PA 1 9348, e-mail: sloving@longwoodgardens.org

Richard Stamelman

Professor of Romance Languages, Emeritus, Williams College; Executive Director, Emeritus, The Montgomery Endowment, Dartmouth College; 21 Sussex Court, Williamsburg, VA 23188, e-mail: rstamelman@wm.edu

Abstract Smell, often called the inarticulate sense, challenges the efforts made to describe or represent it, forcing one to fall back on metaphor and simile; so often we find ourselves saying that such and such an odor smells like tea or chocolate. Of the senses smell is the least fully understood or appreciated. The goal, at once pedagogical and sensual, of the exhibition Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance, was to introduce the public to the science, technology, art, and history of floral and perfume fragrance and to teach visitors, through different kinds of panels, displays, floral arrangements, films, advertisements, objects, and computerized programs, about the complexity of perfume composition and scent creation while affording them the sensual experience of smelling flowers and perfumes in close proximity. This article describes how Making Scents was conceived, planned, organized, and realized over five years of discussion and how problems of presentation and representation involving the volatility and dissipation of scents and the difficulty of describing scents visually, linguistically, and olfactorily were faced and solved by the horticulturists, the designers, and the curator who worked on the exhibition.

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Visual Materials in the Research Library The Center for Historic American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society

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The Center for Historic American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society

Georgia B. Barnhill

Former Director, Center for Historic American Visual Culture, American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609; email: gbarnhill@mwa.org

Abstract The success of the Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is based on a variety of programs that other libraries could imitate in order to exploit collections that for various reasons are not been utilized fully by scholars, teachers, and the general public. In the United States, there are libraries and historical organizations with vast collections of prints and photographs, but few of these visual materials reach the hands of scholars or teachers. CHAViC is a concerted effort by the governing board and senior administration of AAS to find new audiences for visual materials through an improved access to collections; workshops, seminars, and conferences; publications; and a dedicated fellowship program. The overarching goal of CHAViC is to encourage the use of visual materials by historians as evidence, not merely as illustration.1 For our purposes, visual materials should be seen through the lens of history. This essay describes activities that we hope will lead to this outcome.

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The Role of Museums in the Illegal Antiquities Market

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Michelle D’lppolito

University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740; email: mrdippolito@gmail.com

Abstract The ability of investigative agencies like Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to effectively recover stolen works of art depends in part on how comprehensive and complete their databases of stolen works are. The scope of these databases and their effectiveness in recovering artwork depends on how many reports of theft are submitted by museums to the investigative agencies. This paper considers how a lack of funding leads to discrepancies in and between museum collection records and databases maintained by investigative agencies, resulting in negative publicity and affect a museum’s public image. Ultimately this paper presents some strategies to mitigate these discrepancies and help deter future museum theft by streamlining the investigation process for agencies like Interpol and the FBI.

On October 7, 2010, police in Landskrona, Sweden discovered three stolen paintings during a raid in a credit card fraud case. The paintings were found in plastic bags each with a label identifying it as belonging to the Malmö Museum of Art (Durney 2010). These labels matched the records the museum had for the paintings (Durney 2010). The police contacted the museum and informed them of the find. According to Goren Christenson, the director of the museum, the paintings had been taken down to be put in storage two weeks prior to the raid (Associated Press 2010; CBC 2010; TT 2010). They had been unaware that anything was missing until the police contacted them; their records still had them listed as being in storage (Anonymous 2010; Associated Press 2010). News articles covering the theft and recovery of the paintings dealt primarily with the fact that the museum was unaware of their absence. The day of the recovery, headings such as “Munch stolen in Sweden and nobody notices” from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) (2010) and “Museum in Sweden unaware of theft of Munch painting, artwork recovered” by the Star Tribune (2010) cast the museum in a negative light. While eventually reports of arrests prompted the museum to receive funding to help increase their security measures, initial reports characterized the museum as inattentive rather than as a victim. Little to no information was originally given regarding the theft of the artwork or who stole it (Associated Press 2010). Since the recovery of the three paintings, three men have been arrested and convicted of theft and of receiving and handling stolen goods (TT 2010). According to The Local, the thief “found” the paintings by a wharf next to the museum and assumed they were being discarded (2010). Whether or not this is an accurate reflection of the events, it demonstrates that there was a discrepancy between the actual locations of the paintings and where the museum thought them to be located.

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Historical Evidence or Just Acts of Vandalism Should We Keep Those Past Interventions?

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Should We Keep Those Past Interventions?

Aristotelis Georgios Sakellariou

Head of the Conservation Centre of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 6 Karaoli-Dimitriou str., Lofos Fourezi, Glyka Nera Attikis Greece a.g.sakellariou@gmail.com

Abstract Every object is physical proof of history. The object serves as a manifestation of raw material, human thoughts, and events. Once the heritage expert accepts this, he takes responsibility for interacting with its history by preserving it, adding to it, or removing it. This article defines three aspects of intended interaction with an object’s history: restoration, de-restoration and re-restoration. When preparing an object for exhibition or study, ethical considerations, formed through the years amongst museums and organisations, should be considered in order to achieve the best decision regarding an object’s treatment. There is no single solution to issues that derive from past restorations as noted in the case studies presented here from the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia.

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