265 Articles
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Medium 9781442267909

“Everyone Brings a Piece to the Puzzle”: Conversations with Elaine Rosenberg and Reflections on Provenance Research among The Paul Rosenberg Archives

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

Laurie A. Stein

Smithsonian Institution

Reflections on Using The Paul Rosenberg Archives

I can no longer recall the exact date of my first contact with Elaine Rosenberg and of my initial visit to the archive of Paul Rosenberg and Company in New York. It must have been in the early 2000s. However, I can vividly recall the feeling of the experience: arriving at the renowned address, gazing up at the impressive gallery building on 79th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, and traveling with anticipation in the elevator to the top floor. When I emerged, I found myself in several small rooms filled with fabulous books, great art, and tempting document boxes, and where I was greeted by Elaine Rosenberg (daughter-in-law of Paul Rosenberg and widow of his son and gallery successor, Alexandre Rosenberg) and by Ilda François, Mrs. Rosenberg’s assistant. I sat on a low sofa and tried hard to succinctly and articulately describe my research inquiry, and what I hoped to find in the documentary resources of one of the most important international art galleries of the twentieth century. Mrs. Rosenberg listened with a mien of elegance, intelligence, and a dash of humor. And from that first moment, I was enchanted.

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Medium 9781442267909

“In Love at First Sight Completely, Hopelessly, and Forever with Chinese Art”: The Eugene and Agnes Meyer Collection of Chinese Art at the Freer Gallery of Art

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

Dorota Chudzicka

Smithsonian Institution

Abstract    The Agnes and Eugene Meyer collection of Chinese bronzes, paintings, and sculptures came to the Freer Gallery of Art through Agnes Meyer’s donations in the 1960s, her bequest in 1971—the largest single expansion of the Freer Gallery’s collection to date—and her children’s donations in the 1990s and 2000s. Research on this collection reveals that the Meyers, who were active supporters of avant-garde art in New York, also acquired their Asian collection in the years between 1910-20. The study of the Meyer collection, and the circumstances of its acquisition, provides a fascinating look at the rapidly expanding Asian art market in the United States in the World War I era, and especially of the influence of Charles Freer on the collectors during this era. Encouraged and guided by Freer, Agnes and Eugene Meyer acquired Chinese art objects from many newly established dealers of Chinese art in the U.S. While the Meyers’ personal acquisition activities began to dwindle in the 1920s, Agnes Meyer remained closely involved in shaping the Freer Gallery’s collection in subsequent years.

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Medium 9781442267930

“Our Museum—Another Handsome Contribution”

Collections Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

A Comparative Case Study of the Charleston Museum during its First Formative 150 Years

Barry L. Stiefel

Assistant Professor, Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC; stiefelb@cofc.edu

Abstract    Founded in 1773 in the South Carolina colony, three years prior to American independence, the Charleston Museum was established as the first museum in what would become the United States. Originally, when first instituted by the Charleston Library Society (as a subscription library in 1748), the intent was to model the Charleston Museum on the British Museum. This paper examines the Charleston Museum’s trajectory as a collecting institution from its origins in cabinets of curiosities held at library and philosophical societies and small colleges of higher education to its independence as an institution and multiple structures (both historic and modern). In addition to examining the aforementioned connection with the British Museum, this paper compares the Charleston Museum with two other early American institutions—the Library Com pany and the Peale Museum—in order to draw out an understanding of the evolution of collections and exhibitions.

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Medium 9781442265790

“The Books of the Office of My Charge”

Collections Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Jenny Marie Forsythe

Graduate Student in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, 450 Humanities Building, Los Angeles, CA 90095; jmforsythe@gmail.com

Abstract Heloise Hulse Cruzat and Laura Louise Porteous spent decades of their lives feeding the quill and ink symbols scratched onto eighteenth century Spanish and French colonial judicial records to their typewriters. Cruzat worked for the Louisiana Historical Society (LHS) from 1917 to 1931 as a translator of French colonial records, and Porteous worked from 1920 to 1948 on the Spanish records. Translation was a central part of the process that transformed the colonial notarial and judicial records into historical documents. In this case study, one Spanish judicial record is compared to Porteous’s corresponding English “Index” entry. Examining such work closely allows us to spotlight what Porteous chose to omit; moreover, her “Index” entry becomes a tool for reading between the lines of one Spanish colonial judicial record.

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Medium 9781442265790

“The Books of the Office of My Charge”

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Jenny Marie Forsythe

Graduate Student in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, 450 Humanities Building, Los Angeles, CA 90095; jmforsythe@gmail.com

Abstract Heloise Hulse Cruzat and Laura Louise Porteous spent decades of their lives feeding the quill and ink symbols scratched onto eighteenth century Spanish and French colonial judicial records to their typewriters. Cruzat worked for the Louisiana Historical Society (LHS) from 1917 to 1931 as a translator of French colonial records, and Porteous worked from 1920 to 1948 on the Spanish records. Translation was a central part of the process that transformed the colonial notarial and judicial records into historical documents. In this case study, one Spanish judicial record is compared to Porteous’s corresponding English “Index” entry. Examining such work closely allows us to spotlight what Porteous chose to omit; moreover, her “Index” entry becomes a tool for reading between the lines of one Spanish colonial judicial record.

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Medium 9781442265790

“The Most Wonderful Collection of Original Documents in the United States”

Collections Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Jenny Marie Forsythe

Graduate Student in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, 450 Humanities Building, Los Angeles, CA 90095; jmforsythe@gmail.com

Susan Tucker

Archivist Emeritus, Newcomb Archives, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118; susannah@tulane.edu

Abstract Heloise Hulse Cruzat (1862–1931) and Laura Louise Porteous (1875– 1952) worked in New Orleans during the first half of the twentieth century to transcribe, translate, and index the Louisiana Historical Society’s (LHS) vast collection of French and Spanish colonial judicial records. This essay places the body of their work for the LHS in national perspective, describes their lives in the context of evolving roles for women in New Orleans cultural institutions, and considers the significance of their work for past and future scholars.1

A cast of men in Louisiana—leaders born and educated in the northeastern U.S. and France as well as influential native residents of the francophone and anglophone sectors of New Orleans—founded the Louisiana Historical Society (LHS) in 1836. Almost immediately, they began collecting colonial records, but it was not until the early twentieth century that they gained sustained intellectual and physical control of the documents.2

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Medium 9781442265790

“The Most Wonderful Collection of Original Documents in the United States”

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Jenny Marie Forsythe

Graduate Student in the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles, 450 Humanities Building, Los Angeles, CA 90095; jmforsythe@gmail.com

Susan Tucker

Archivist Emeritus, Newcomb Archives, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118; susannah@tulane.edu

Abstract Heloise Hulse Cruzat (1862–1931) and Laura Louise Porteous (1875– 1952) worked in New Orleans during the first half of the twentieth century to transcribe, translate, and index the Louisiana Historical Society’s (LHS) vast collection of French and Spanish colonial judicial records. This essay places the body of their work for the LHS in national perspective, describes their lives in the context of evolving roles for women in New Orleans cultural institutions, and considers the significance of their work for past and future scholars.1

A cast of men in Louisiana—leaders born and educated in the northeastern U.S. and France as well as influential native residents of the francophone and anglophone sectors of New Orleans—founded the Louisiana Historical Society (LHS) in 1836. Almost immediately, they began collecting colonial records, but it was not until the early twentieth century that they gained sustained intellectual and physical control of the documents.2

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Medium 9781442267558

“What Self-Respecting Museum Is Without One?”: The Story of Collecting the Old World at the Science Museum of Minnesota 1914–1988

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

S. J. Redman

Student, Departments of Anthropology and History, University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, MN 56267 (e-mail: redm0054@morris.umn.edu).

AbstractMany Americans have learned some, if not all, of what they know about ancient world cultures through visiting museums. The museums that Americans visit, much like those of the remainder of the Western world, seem to almost always possess objects reflecting the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Many American museums, however, unlike their European counterparts, were not founded with the intention of focusing on what could be termed Old World or Classical Archaeology. Why then, if American museums did not originally intend to collect these objects, do American institutions hold comparatively large collections from these areas? In order to better understand this phenomenon, I chose to study the collections of three museums in the midwestern United States. Possibly the most instructive institution that I studied was the Science Museum of Minnesota.

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Medium 9781442267855

A Case Study in Dealing with Old Loans from the Kentucky Historical Society

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

Deborah Rose Van Horn

Registrar, Kentucky Historical Society, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601; phone: 502-564-1792 x4418; email: Deborah. VanHorn@ky.gov

Abstract Recently, the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) went through a database migration that created unforeseen data problems. During the migration, many of the accession records were lost or “merged” due to the existence of a double numbering system. This numbering system was created when the Kentucky Military History Museum (KMHM) and its collections were treated as a separate museum from the 1970s–1990s. Due to these data problems, KHS has undertaken a project to process the files, record by record, and to re-enter the accession information for accuracy purposes. During this process, several old loans were discovered. This article will focus on the double numbering issue and the old loans discovered in the KHS and KMHM accession files. The KHS is currently employing several means to resolve these issues, including contacting the owners, attempting to contact any potential heirs, and trying to obtain ownership through the Kentucky laws regarding old loans in museums. As evidenced in the case studies presented here, it’s possible to find the problem records in accession/loan files and solve them!

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Medium 9781442271340

A Corner Cupboard Spills Family History

Collections Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

NOTES FROM THE FIELD

Cheryl Harper

Artist/independent curator and organizer of exhibition projects, charperartist@hotmail.com

Abstract As baby boomers assist their parents in downsizing to their next stage of life, many adult children are inheriting collections that have been passed down through generations. Instead of dispersing objects that may no longer have family stories or information connected to them, one may, with the assistance of Internet search engines, genealogical sites, and historical libraries, discover lost context for these heirlooms. The results may restore history to some objects, create avenues for further research, and identify objects that may be sold within specialized markets and auctions. This case study explains how an art historian with assistance from her amateur genealogist husband approached their family legacy of objects.

The Harper corner cupboard is not fancy, has only residual evidence of the original milk paint finish typical of such Pennsylvania Berks County furniture, but has been stubbornly passed down through generations for at least 150 years. A family story is that when the banks of the river near the family home overflowed, the cupboard floated down the Schuylkill and was rescued, without, one assumes, much paint. Lisa Minardi, assitant curator at the Winterthur Museum, dated through photos, the cabinet circa 1830. She observed that oak grained paint was a later popular Victorian treatment. Every female Harper who owned it placed her own precious belongings and bric-a-brac locked behind twelve panes of hand-molded glass resting on a bottom cabinet with a single panel door. There are holes on the underside of four deep shelves where cups once hung, a double track of grooves that surround the perimeter to hold plates, and short wood stops to keep trays in place at the rear. In 2014, I became the designated person to pack up its contents. My late mother-in-law, its most recent owner, never spoke much about what she chose to put in the cupboard and generally was not at all interested in fine things but the contents in the cabinet included a variety of ceramic, glass, silver, and other intriguing objects. I am an art historian and independent curator and so the mysteries of the corner cupboard contents became the springboard to a serious research project for me, the next caretaker.

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Medium 9781442267558

A Curatorial Challenge: Managing Artifacts in Academic Archives

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

Michele Christian

University Records Analyst, University Archives, Parks Library, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011 (michelec@iastate.edu).

AbstractArtifacts, or three-dimensional objects, are often found in archives collections. Whether by design or circumstance, document collecting and records oriented repositories regularly find themselves managing items that do not neatly fit into file folders and document boxes. Archivists face the challenge of discovering ways to adequately describe and care for these objects. By looking into the practices of museum professionals, archivists can develop strategies for managing artifacts in their care. This article conveys the methods instituted by the University Archives, Iowa State University Library, to manage its ever-growing artifact collection. The strategies devised include appraising artifacts for inclusion in the main collection, preserving the objects through re-housing in appropriate archival storage, developing techniques for description as well as a database to collect and manage the information, and providing access to the artifacts.

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Medium 9781442265790

A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources

Collections Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Mélanie Lamotte

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge, Newnham College, Sidgwick Road, Cambridge CB3 9DF, United Kingdom; melanie. lamotte@cantab.net

Abstract Recent decades have witnessed steady and significant historiographical interest in the history of early modern French Louisiana. The field presently boasts a dynamic set of analysts actively investigating primary sources across America and France. In addition, many French Louisiana sources and historical issues remain unexplored, thereby suggesting that the historiography of early modern French Louisiana will continue to grow substantially. While numerous inventories of Louisiana sources have been published, few have specifically focused their attention on early modern French Louisiana documents. Several of these guides contain information that is no longer valid by pointing to sources that have been moved or have subsequently disappeared. In addition, many sources are being made more readily available through digitization and the creation of online databases. This article provides much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.

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Medium 9781442267800

A Journey of 13,033 Stones The Westlake Collection and Papers

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

Rebe Taylor

Australian Research Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia; email: rttaylor@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract The Westlake Collection in the Pitt Rivers Museum includes 13,033 Tasmanian Aboriginal stone artefacts; it is the largest collection of its kind. Formed by amateur English scientist Ernest Westlake from 1908–1910, this paper tells the story of Westlake’s life; why, and how, he chose to travel to Tasmania to collect stone artefacts; and what happened to that collection after his death in 1922. It also explores Westlake’s collection as an enactment of nineteenth and early twentieth-century scientific ideas about Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and examines his accompanying paper archive, in particular his interviews with Aboriginal people. Possibly the richest source of Tasmanian Aboriginal language and culture dating from early twentieth century, these long-overlooked notes demonstrate the enduring traditions of a people once presumed extinct. An epilogue explains how these papers are being published in an innovative online archive guide and history.

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Medium 9781442267718

A Letter from the Editor

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

One of the premier venues for collections professionals to gather, the American Association of Museum’s Annual Meeting will be held in Los Angeles in May 2010. This year’s theme “Where Ideas Live!” sounds more like a tagline for an exciting avatar-centered game rather than a conference call. I can’t say that I blame the AAM for this creative branding. As readers of this journal are well aware, museums and archives are living entities rather than static, monolithic institutions. Faced with layoffs, reassignments, and other cost-cutting measures, collecting institutions feel the burden of pressure to contend with budget-saving measures including staff freezes, curtailed print and media funds, and reductions in programming, as well as acquisitions. Economics aside, cultural and political issues also threaten collections.

A call to action is in order. As museum and archives professionals, we must maintain our standards and move beyond essential preservation and access schemes to lunge forward, to incorporate, and even compensate for, new interventions. Given that collections are places where ideas live (rather than decay, deteriorate, or die), how do we engage this malleable nature? To what extent is it possible to serve as good stewards of our collections?

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Medium 9781442267688

A Letter from the Editor

Collections AltaMira Press ePub

I am pleased to begin my tenure as editor of Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals and equally honored to usher in its fifth year as a scholarly publication dedicated to foregrounding the work of collections professionals. This journal seeks to address ideas, initiatives, and issues related to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting works. From the outset, Collections has been subtitled “from the practical to the philosophical” — a range of approaches that, to me, is critical. Rather than seeing these two terms as fixed points, I see them as a range of areas wherein there is much oscillation, for what collection is managed with only a practical approach? How do museums and archives develop, sustain, and revise collecting philosophies? How are collections successfully managed? What marginalizes them? What are the ways in which the public connects with a collection? Who or what fosters this connection? Who or what prohibits it?

The authors in this volume have an international perspective, with current work from professionals based at the National Park Service in the United States, the National Archives in the United Kingdom, the Jewish Museum of Greece, and Aberystwyth University in Wales. The progress report from the NPS comes in the form of a multi-authored document that identifies issues relating to assessing the significance of collections. With more than 115 million items in its holdings, the NPS has made progress toward establishing criteria tied to collections as opposed to sites. This article outlines an ongoing effort to develop museum collection significance criteria that are practical and flexible while providing continuity and context for the future. I am extremely grateful to Laurel Racine and eight co-authors who have made Collections the venue for sharing their work with a wider readership. Anna E. Bülow’s study at the National Archives’ Department of Collection Care takes its cues from Robert Waller’s risk assessment model (1994) and greatly brings the notion of collections care among digital records, archival microfilm masters, and paper/parchment records into focus. Aristotelis Georgios Sakellariou introduces readers to practical issues associated with cleaning and refreshing display cases at the Jewish Museum of Greece — a project that allowed visitors to the museum the ability to observe the process first-hand. Finally, Jennie Hill’s review essay addresses broader themes of visual culture and collection construction and care, offering a remarkably rich analysis of three key publications from recent years.

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