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The Importance of Collections Access on the Web

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 23, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest columnist Elyse Werling

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

As a museum professional, you must be conscious of protecting your collection yet at the same time must facilitate access to the collection. For many, the question of whether to provide online collections access poses both risks and benefits. I have often heard that museums that post online access spur greater interest in their collections which in turn generates more visitors. I myself have often debated the risks and benefits to posting collections on line and until this point have been on the fence about it.

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Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition: “Bull” Halsey

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest columnist Brian Miskell

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

My exhibition plan focuses on the career of Fleet Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, US Navy (Retired). My photograph is of the first ship he served on fresh out of the Naval Academy, USS Missouri (BB-11).

I was recently reading Halsey’s autobiography, Admiral Halsey’s Story, which he wrote after World War II. From October 18, 1942 until July 15, 1944, Halsey served as Commander, South Pacific Area. While reading this section of his book, I saw a passage describing how Eleanor Roosevelt was to visit his area. Reading this, I recalled seeing a photograph that included someone I believed at the time could have been Eleanor Roosevelt among a large group photos that my grandfather had kept from his time serving in the 13th Army Air Force in the Pacific during World War II. After reading about the visit, I retrieved the collection of photos, went through them, and found two photos that included both Halsey and Mrs. Roosevelt. The activity taking place in one of the photos is actually described in Halsey’s book, “At one hospital, I arranged for her to pin the Navy Cross and two Purple Hearts on my ‘one-man army,’ Lieutenant Miller of the Strong.”

While I am not sure where my grandfather obtained the prints, I’m assuming they were stock photos he acquired as he wasn’t in the area at the time.

While I am not sure where my grandfather obtained the prints, I’m assuming they were stock photos he acquired as he wasn’t in the area at the time.

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My Journey on the Piscataqua

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest columnist Amanda Breen

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

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My experience sailing on the Piscataqua, a traditional reproduction of the flat-bottom gundalow barges that were once prevalent along the local waterways of the Piscataqua River Region, sparked my interest in the photograph Fanny M., which was the last gundalow to operate commercially in the area. The gundalow, not especially handsome, was a practical working vessel perfectly adapted to the environment. One or two farmers could construct the utilitarian design of the gundalow over the course of the winter season. Uncaulked and unpainted, the vessels were given little care, yet the communities were entirely dependent on these vessels to transport necessary goods throughout the Piscataqua River region up until the twentieth century.

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Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest columnist Barbara Palmer

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

By now, you’ve probably heard that this year’s Exhibition Planning course is trying something new. Instead of curating an exhibition as a group with a set collection as in previous years, each class member is developing a proposal for an individual exhibition, with one object from a shared collection as a touchstone.

As my exhibition idea, titled, “Open Water: Women’s Swimwear and the Fight to Compete,” has grown throughout the semester, I’ve realized that developing ideas on your own can lead to feeling stuck in your own silo (or, “column of excellence,” an alternative moniker I’ve heard lately lately). Developing an entire exhibit solo not only lends a powerful feeling of freedom in making decisions without compromise or consequence, but can alternatively leave one feeling a bit alone in the planning too. In our future museum careers, the process of exhibit design collaboration in which we may be participating won’t come without a team in some way, shape, or form, so I’ve appreciated the opportunities both given and sought out to collaborate with others.

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Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 7, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest columnist Sarah McDonough

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

The research process for this class has really shown just how much untapped history there is out there that most people aren’t aware of. While reading for my exhibit, A Little House on Deck: The Curious Journeys of Whaling Wives and Children at Sea, I discovered dozens of surviving diaries of women and girls who sailed as passengers on whaling ships. Reading through accounts of their adventures, it’s frustrating that so many of these people would not be remembered except for their writing, or the snippets of stories remembered about them. Here’s a particularly interesting one:

In 1846 the whaling ship Powhattan set out of Martha’s Vineyard for a hunt off the coast of New Zealand, on what appeared to be a cursed voyage. Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 6, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest columnist Catherine Shortliffe

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

This past week, as part of my research for my exhibition, Shipwreck: The Shoreline experience, and in an effort to connect with the subjects of my exhibition, I headed south to the shore to visit the Hull Lifesaving Museum in Hull, Massachusetts. I set out with hopes of learning more about the lifesaving teams that make up about a third of my complete exhibition plan, and discovering artifacts that would help round out my otherwise two dimensional exhibition. I am happy to report that both of these goals were achieved and the trip was a great success!

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Wider World

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on April 1, 2014 in The Wider World |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe

A couple weeks ago, I was a part of Boston’s first History Camp, an “unconference” that was organized by volunteers and a wiki. One of the panels was on means of publishing for history books, and Boston historian J. L. Bell made point I think applies just as well to museums. He said that people — particularly writers — are used to thinking of publishing houses as the gatekeepers: people who control what gets inside, people who has to please, appease, or even depend on the whims of. With e-books, inexpensive self-publishing and other text formats flooding the market, he proposed, it makes just as much sense to think of gatekeepers (whether they are publishers, reviewers, or others) as ushering readers in through open gates, helping them find what’s good and what suits their tastes. I think the same metaphor can be used to talk about museums as gatekeepers of knowledge, stories, and images or artifacts.

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It’s All About Image

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by guest blogger Emma Mällinen

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

I am in the midst of planning an exhibition titled, “How We Describe the Wild: American Encounters with Nature,” an exhibition that celebrates the past and present of American writers who shaped the way we view our natural environment. From revisiting classics by Thoreau and Emerson to dissecting the controversial works of Edward Abbey and Rachel Carson, the exhibition highlights the milestones of American ecocriticism and nature appreciation.

Now, that sounds pretty text-based and potentially dry. How can you engage people in long texts in an energetic exhibition? This is the primary obstacle I’ve come up against, but one I’ve found some great solutions for.

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Snapshots of my Search History

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 22, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. In May, the Tufts University Art Gallery will host an exhibition that will offer a peek into their minds, with mini-exhibitions showing what each of them came up with. In the meantime, follow along on the Facebook page and on guest posts on this blog for previews into the process. The first guest blogger, Tegan, normally writes the column “The Wider World,” but today she’s sharing a bit about the foibles of research.

Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

One of the things I love about history and museum work is all of the weird research paths I end up going down. In the past few months, I’ve been collecting ideas, information, and images for my exhibition proposal “Rich Clam, Poor Clam” and the detail view of it which will be my part of Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition. “Rich Clam, Poor Clam” is about the cultures surrounding food in different social classes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in New England, focusing on the way seafood had a special place in the diet of both the poor and the rich. Here are a few snapshots of what I’ve found along the way.

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