What's Happening in Brooklyn?

  • Posted on Apr 01, 2014 by

Access to the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives has been limited since last summer because of a major renovation of the second floor of the museum and the retirement of a key library staff member. The necessary renovation is allowing for the installation of climate control as well as new galleries devoted to the Museum's Asian and Islamic collections. There will also be a new gallery space devoted to the display of Libraries and Archives collections when the renovation is completed around late 2015. We are working closely with the curators and designers to bring the display of all these collections together in a cohesive way. Here is a schematic view of the newly climatized Asian art galleries and new staircase leading up to the second floor.

Exact dates are still being determined for limited public access to the Libraries and Archives starting later this Spring, at which point we will be welcoming back public users by appointment only. Physical access will continue to be in flux during the ongoing construction process, so please refer to the Museum’s website for the most up-to-date Library & Archives access news. Meanwhile we are continuing to provide access to the research collections via remote reference, scanning, etc. Additionally, this April the role of our "retired key library staff member" will be filled once again, thereby making the research collections much more available to our users. 

While the second floor renovation has prevented public access to the Libraries and Archives, we have continued to build our research collections to support continued study of the Museum's object collections. Some notable acquisitions have included a genealogy of the Schenck family, some key works on Ancient Egypt and an artist book object by John Frederick Walker.

The Archives are prominently displayed in a current exhibition at the Japan Society entitled Points of Departure: Treasures of Japan From the Brooklyn Museum.  Over 30 key works from the Library and Archives are installed in the exhibition, which is on view through June 8th, and range from expedition reports, to rare books, to artist’s books published in Japan in 2013.

Brooklyn Museum Archives. Culin Archival Collection, Expeditions [2.1.018]: Collecting Trip in Japan, Including a Visit to the Kurile Islands and Hokaido. Volume 1 of 2 (05/1912-09/1912).

Project Family by Motoyuki Daifu (New York: Dashwood Books, 2013) Brooklyn Museum Library. Special Collections. Mary Smith Dorward Fund

This exhibition is a great warm up for us as we work with the curators to contextualize objects being exhibited, given that the collections held in the Libraries and Archives very often act as the story tellers for the objects, providing background on who made the object, when, where and how. Other items from the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives are on view in travelling exhibitions such as Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis, now at the Museo Correr in Venice, which includes plates from a rare portfolio of images by Sonia Delaunay.

For the first time, the Libraries and Archives are featured in the Museum’s new handbook entitled Brooklyn Museum Highlight.

In keeping with the Museum’s outreach efforts, we are also utilizing Tumblr as a vehicle to showcase our collections - here are a few things we’ve highlighted:

Libraries and Archives in museums

Wilbour Library of Egyptology Anniversary

Amazing Victorian sea weed scrapbook takes the spotlight

Mayan hearts for Valentine’s Day

Cultural treasures and the Monuments Men

Check the Museum’s tumblr for ongoing news about what we are up to at Brooklyn. More soon on special projects and acquisitions!

Deirdre Lawrence, Principal Librarian, Brooklyn Museum

Banner image: Select plates from "Japanese toys, from Unai no tomo (A Child's Friends) by Shimizu Seifu, 1891-1923.". Brooklyn Museum Archives. Culin Archival Collection. On view in the Japan Society exhibition entitled Points of Departure: Treasures of Japan from the Brooklyn Museum.

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