ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America

Category: Local Projects (page 1 of 2)

African Artists’ Books Roundtable

African Artists' Book RoundtableOn September 16, the National Museum of African Art held the African Artists’ Books Roundtable to commemorate the opening of the Smithsonian Libraries’ new exhibition, Artists’ Books and Africa. Six artists discussed how they developed and produced artists’ books, and the inspiration for and recurring themes within their creations. The history of artists’ books in Africa was also discussed. Curator Janet Stanley led a tour of the exhibition following the discussion.

Featured speakers included:
Atta Kwami and Mary Hark – Listen, Listen
Matt Cohen and Blake Nolan – Colored People
Toufik Berramdane – Nadime
Bessie Smith Moltun – Tunisia

Corcoran Artists’ Books Collection at GW Libraries Special Collections Research Center

Horse hair, glass, metal screws, handmade paper, a cotton t-shirt—these are just some of the materials that compose the nearly three hundred artists’ books housed in the Corcoran Artists’ Books Collection at GW Libraries. Conceived by renowned artists such as Ed Ruscha or by up-and-coming artists from the Corcoran’s MA Art and the Book program, these art objects stretch the boundaries of what ‘book’ can mean: Alice Austin’s Milk, Butter, Eggs (2004) resembles a codex, but when opened reveals its accordion folds with illustrations of domestic scenes; Beth Thielen’s The Tower (2007) appears largely sculptural until small booklets unfold from its architectural, watch-tower-like form.   Thielen’s work, made in collaboration with women prisoners from San Quentin State Prison and the California Rehabilitation Centers, embodies the collection’s thematic focus of social justice and consciousness.

Beth Thielen, The Tower (2007); Photo by William Atkins / The George Washington University

Along with this focus on social issues, the collection’s primary purpose is as a teaching collection for book arts students. Each year the Artists’ Books Committee (made up of Art and the Book professors and students, and a librarian) identifies particular social justice issues, like LGBTQ rights or xenophobia, on which to concentrate for new purchases. The committee also selects formal aspects (e.g. flag books or box housings) which will support student work. In addition, the collection contains collaborative works by Art and the Book graduate students such as +/- One Percent (2010), and most recently, An Exquisite Future (2014); these works are published by Corcoran’s in-house publisher, Marginalia Press.

The Corcoran Artists’ Books Collection was slowly amassed over the past several decades by the Corcoran Library at the former Corcoran College of Art + Design—now the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design within The George Washington University. With the acquisition of the Corcoran Library by GW Libraries in 2014, this unique collection was transferred to its new home in GW’s Special Collections Research Center where individual students and class groups can view selected books upon request.

Alice Austin, Milk, Butter, Eggs (2004); Photo by William Atkins / The George Washington University

Alice Austin, Milk, Butter, Eggs (2004); Photo by William Atkins / The George Washington University

Right now through March 20th, you can view a selection of nineteen artists’ books from the Corcoran collection at GW’s Luther W. Brady Gallery. The exhibit entitled “Paper Window” presents a wide range of artist book categories, including photobooks, pop-ups, mixed media books, and altered books. The exhibit also features customized book housings and book-making tools on loan from the Art and the Book graduate program. Visit often as paged books will periodically have new spreads on display. Located on the second floor of GW’s Media and Public Affairs Building (805 21st Street, NW), the Brady Gallery is free and open to the public.

Shira Loev Eller
Art and Design Librarian
Gelman Library
The George Washington University

Upgrade for AtoM@DO, Dumbarton Oaks ICFA’s online database

One year ago today, the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks launched our online database, AtoM@DO ( We are pleased to announce that we have upgraded to a new version (2.1) of the AtoM (Access to Memory) software, which features a redesigned interface and many enhancements for searching and browsing.

In response to feedback from our users, we sponsored development of new functionality within the Places taxonomy through AtoM lead developer Artefactual Systems. You can now browse a hierarchical list of geographic terms with a tree-view that allows you to navigate from broader terms to narrower terms. You can also browse an alphabetical list of places, or search within the taxonomy with a dedicated search box. A persistent Browse menu in the header gives you instant access to all of AtoM@DO’s taxonomies, whether Names, Places, or Subjects. These same access points are now prominently displayed at the top of all archival records, thereby facilitating discovery of related items.

AtoM@DO’s search engine has been enhanced with the implementation of Elasticsearch. Now, when you start a keyword search in the Search box located in the header, suggested matches will appear in real time, faceted by archival description, Names, Places, or Subjects. The search engine is responsive, so the more characters you type, more relevant results will appear dynamically. Additionally, Place terms assigned to archival descriptions will inherit their parent terms, so that searches for “Turkey” will automatically return results for “Istanbul.” AtoM@DO now includes more robust faceting of search results, so that you can narrow large sets quickly to target the most relevant results. Use the facet filters on the left-hand side of the search results page to limit your results by level of description, department, or creator, or by access points (Names, Places, and Subjects).

We hope that you will explore the new AtoM@DO, which contains many more enhancements that we hope will improve our users’ ability to locate archival materials at Dumbarton Oaks. We will continue to add content to AtoM@DO as we process and describe our collections. In the meantime, you can also discover our collections (processed and unprocessed) through a variety of channels, whether HOLLIS, WorldCat, or ArchiveGrid.

For more information on how to use the new features, please see the AtoM@DO FAQ page prepared by ICFA staff. Feel free contact us with any questions or feedback at We would especially like to thank our colleague, Prathmesh Mengane, Database and CMS Developer, whose dogged assistance made this upgrade possible.

~Shalimar Abigail Fojas White, Manager, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

Dumbarton Oaks ICFA Launches its Oral History Initiative

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) at Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to announce the online publication of our Oral History Initiative Each interview is represented with a page that includes a brief biographical sketch of the interviewee, a video of the interview, and corresponding transcripts (when available). All videos are available in full length, both on ICFA’s website and through Vimeo:

Sreenshot of ICFA”s Oral History Initiative web page.

ICFA launched its Oral History Initiative in 2011, with the support of the Dumbarton Oaks Archives (DOA). Our aim was to speak directly with individuals related to ICFA’s holdings, whether they participated in fieldwork or research projects documented by our collections or managed the department’s diverse collections over the years. Our main goal is to gather information, such as first-hand descriptions of fieldwork or personal recollections of key individuals, that may not otherwise be captured in documents or photographs. This work is ongoing and the Oral History Initiative site will continue to grow as we conduct additional interviews and create new transcripts. 

The ICFA Oral History Initiative complements the Dumbarton Oaks Archives’ Oral History Project: While DOA interviews focus on affiliates’ memories of Dumbarton Oaks and their perceptions of how it has changed over time, ICFA’s oral history interviews center on targeted questions about the people and fieldwork projects represented in ICFA’s collections. Together, these interviews provide a vivid portrait of the institution and the remarkable individuals who participated in its myriad activities over the past 75 years. 

Caitlin Ballotta (right), ICFA Summer Intern 2014, prepares for an oral history interview.

ICFA wishes to thank our wonderful colleagues for their collaboration, support, and feedback: James Carder, Lain Wilson, Deb Brown, Prathmesh Mengane, and Molly Marcusse. Very special thanks goes to Caitlin Ballotta, who creatively and meticulously planned and created the webpage for ICFA’s Oral History Initiative during her Summer 2014 internship in ICFA.

~Shalimar Abigail Fojas White, Manager, Image Collection and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

New Online Exhibit from Dumbarton Oaks ICFA: “A Truthful Record: The Byzantine Institute Films”

DO-ICFA_filmstill_iskender The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) at Dumbarton Oaks presents a new online exhibit entitled A Truthful Record: The Byzantine Institute Films: This exhibit aims to reveal the context of the films created by the Byzantine Institute between the 1930s and 1940s by combining them with archival records from the collection The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers.

A Truthful Record features thirteen motion picture films from the Byzantine Institute, which are stored and preserved at ICFA: one of the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, eleven of the Hagia Sophia, and one of the Kariye Camii, both in Istanbul, Turkey. The color films created by the Byzantine Institute’s photographer Pierre Iskender provide significant testimony of the mosaics at Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii and the techniques employed to uncover and conserve them. When combined with notebook entries written by Byzantine Institute fieldworkers such as Ernest Hawkins and the brothers Richard and William Gregory, the history of the films’ creation truly comes alive. Thomas Whittemore, who founded the Byzantine Institute in 1930, made wide use of the moving images, screening them for donors and patrons (such as Robert Woods and Mildred Bliss), the Byzantine scholarly community, and an interested general audience in the United States and Europe. The exhibit is divided into three sections that investigate how the films were made and how they were received by contemporary audiences: Style and Content, Technique, and Purpose and Reception. You can also explore the archival materials chronologically using a detailed Timeline.DO-ICFA_filmstill_whittemore

This online exhibit was created by Fani Gargova, ICFA Byzantine Research Associate. The ICFA team would like to give special thanks to the Dumbarton Oaks Publications Department for their generous assistance and support throughout this project. For more information about ICFA’s Moving Image Collection, please see our website or Vimeo album.

~Shalimar Fojas White, Manager, Image Collection and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

October 25, 2013: Wikipedia Loves Libraries at the Smithsonian!


A Wikipedia Loves Libraries Editathon at the Smithsonian AA/PG Library, focusing on American Artists at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

This event will include new editor training, an afternoon Editathon, and an evening happy hour. No experience necessary–technical or subject!


1:00pm-5:00pm on Friday, October 25, 2013, with a group happy hour at Capital City Brewery after.


AA/PG Library

The Victor Building
750 9th Street NW, Suite 2100
Washington, D.C. 20560

The American Art/Portrait Gallery branch of the Smithsonian Libraries is on the 2nd floor. Photo ID and pre-registration for the event are required.


Wikimedia DC & the Smithsonian Institution. Contact me or Diane Shaw at with questions.


The Editathon will focus on the American artists of the World’s Columbian Exposition.

With approximately 1200 American artists participating in the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, it was the largest exhibition of American art ever assembled at the time. Many artists are well-known today—Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent—but many do not have such recognizable names, much less quality Wikipedia articles. Please join us to mine library books, journals, curatorial files, Art & Artist Files, and all the online resources the Smithsonian Libraries can provide, to expand and improve information on great American artists at the Fair!

Smithsonian Libraries Meetup & Editathon 2013 is part of Wikipedia Loves Libraries (WLL) 2013, the third annual continent-wide campaign to bring Wikipedians, librarians, and archivists together with on-site events. Running this fall throughout October and November, WLL coincides with the celebration of Open Access Week (THIS WEEK!) and American Archives Month.

Hope to see you Friday,

~Anne Evenhaugen, Reference Librarian, Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library

Chapter Mentoring Program Update

The first year of the ARLIS/NA DC-MD-VA chapter mentoring program has gotten off to a great start! The inaugural participants include the following nine mentor/mentee pairings (mentors are listed first):

John Hagood and Julia Murphy

Molli Kuenstner and Kerry Huller

Shalimar White and Dan Moore

Sarah Osborne Bender and Oksana Prokhvacheva

Kim Lesley and Lisa Bonaparte

Jacqueline Protka and Angela Forest

Julia Wisniewski and Tamara Pilko

Leila Prasertwaitaya and Michelle Strizever

Doug Litts and Adam Robinson

Thanks to all the participants for making this first year of the mentoring program a success! Participants are welcome to write about their experiences on the chapter blog (email submissions to Tessa Brawley-Barker) and are invited to the upcoming chapter meeting on Friday, October 11, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (see for the schedule).

Dumbarton Oaks Symposium: The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century

Durian FruitDumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C., is hosting an interdisciplinary symposium on “The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century,” on 4-5 October 2013. The meeting will focus on international botanical explorations, exchanges, and publications in the period spanning the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. This era saw an increased traffic in specimens, taxonomic innovation, and heightened competition among imperial powers for new plant discoveries and applications. Economic botany, the art and science of botanical illustration, and the modes and means of botanical knowledge will be areas of study. Papers will explore developments in Europe, Russia, East Asia, Africa, North and South America.

The symposium coincides with the 50thanniversary of the Rare Book Room at Dumbarton Oaks, and will be accompanied by an exhibit of rare books and illustrations from the period.

Registration is now open and a full program is listed below. Should you or your colleagues be interested in attending, please find more information about the symposium, including the full program and paper abstracts, at:

To register for the symposium, please fill out this form:

Digitization of the Kress Collection of Historic Images

Fig. 1 Alesso di Benozzo Gozzoli, The Deposition of Christ, c.1500, Philbrook Museum of Art, photo: Murray Keyes, 12/8/1937.

Fig. 1 Alesso di Benozzo Gozzoli, The Deposition of Christ, c.1500, Philbrook Museum of Art, photo: Murray Keyes, 12/8/1937.

The National Gallery of Art, and specifically the Library’s Department of Image Collections (DLI), has long enjoyed the generosity of Samuel H. Kress and his Foundation. This department’s photographic archive, now one of the largest art historical photo collections in the world, was established by the foundation in 1970 and of course, the Gallery itself was shaped by Kress’s seminal gifts, beginning in 1939. While the majority of his collection went to the National Gallery, Kress also donated European art to 90 institutions in 33 states, making art accessible to areas formerly without such cultural resources.

After the dissemination of the collection (completed in 1961), the Kress Foundation continued to serve as a repository for many archival and photographic materials pertaining to the Kress Collection. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Foundation donated its sizable holdings of photographs and negatives of the collection to DLI for preservation and reproduction, if needed. These negatives were made by various photographers between c.1910 and 1969 and represent objects from the Kress gift (not including the Dreyfus medals and bronzes). Among the photographers represented are Foto Reali, Murray Keyes (fig. 1), Alfred Martin, Siegfried Colten, Paul Kiehart (fig. 2), the NGA and Bullaty-Lomeo. They document the objects in various views and states of conservation and occasionally include infrared images and x-rays. For decades these materials have been consulted by art historians and have been an important resource for documentation of the physical history of these objects.

Recently, the National Gallery became concerned that these 5,600 historic negatives of the Kress Collection were beginning to degrade so we began to explore option for scanning.  In 2008, the department received a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to digitize and mount the images on the Image Collection’s website for public access. This Kress project complements the department’s 2000-2006 Foto Reali digitization project undertaken with the assistance of ARTstor. The Foto Reali glass negatives scanned by ARTstor include 612 Kress objects and the associated records served as a springboard for the Kress project.

Agnolo di Domenico del Mazziere, Portrait of a Youth, National Gallery of Art, photo: Paul Keihart, 4/1/1954.

Fig. 2 Agnolo di Domenico del Mazziere, Portrait of a Youth, National Gallery of Art, photo: Paul Keihart, 4/1/1954.

During the scanning, the size of the project grew with additional gifts to the department and continued reconsideration of the project’s scope. The NGA’s Department of Imaging and Visual Services transferred negatives of non-NGA objects to DLI which contained 49 negatives of Kress objects photographed by NGA photographer Henry Beville in 1944-1946; these negatives were added to the project. Similarly, the Kress Foundation facilitated the donation of 844 color lantern slides made in the 1940s, largely by Louis Werner, which had already been scanned by the Institute of Fine Arts. These images were also added to the project.

In order to make the project as all-inclusive as possible, we decided to survey DLI’s extensive photographic archive for additional images not represented in the negatives. As a result, 1,800 new images were added. Among the many photographers represented by the photos are Alinari, Anderson, Brogi, A.C. Cooper, Villani and Archivo Mas.  Also scanned were 217 oversized sepia-toned carbon prints by Vittorio Jacquier made in 1930 or 1931 (fig 3). Many of the Jacquier prints are annotated with opinions solicited by Kress from scholars in the 1930s such as Lionello Venturi, Roberto Longhi, Wilhelm Suida, and Giuseppe Fiocco. We scanned these and other signed opinions (including a few by Bernard Berenson) from the collection.  The combination of the negatives, photographs, lantern slides and other related materials document the history of each object in ways not seen elsewhere.

Fig. 3 Italian (Veneto), 15th century, Saint Michael, c.1450, University of Arizona, Museum of Art, photo: Vittorio Jacquier, 1930/1.

Fig. 3 Italian (Veneto), 15th century, Saint Michael, c.1450, University of Arizona, Museum of Art, photo: Vittorio Jacquier, 1930/1.

The DLI Kress Collection also includes photographs and negatives of some objects considered for purchase, but returned to the dealer (called “Off Inventory” in the Kress Foundation records). In many cases the date of purchase and return was found through the files of the Kress Foundation Archives in New York and the National Gallery Archives. Occasionally documentation also exists describing why the objects were not kept; most notable are those by Alan Burroughs who made x-rays accompanied by comment sheets for Kress. Burroughs is considered to be one of the earliest scholars to use x-rays as an attribution tool.

Also found in this collection are images of works on paper from the Kress’s collection not published in the 1964 -1977 catalogues sponsored by the Kress Foundation. These include twenty drawings by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta donated to the Pierpont Morgan Library and seven prints by Albrecht Dürer formerly in the collection of Mrs. Rush Kress. Other objects formerly in Mrs. Kress’s collection (and many still with the family) are also found in the DLI group.

Additionally, the collection includes decorative arts and furniture that adorned the Kress apartment.  Many are now lost, but can be seen in the 68 images of the Kress apartment (1020 Fifth Ave. New York, NY) previously mounted in the Image Collection’s website (fig. 4).  Two hundred and eighty five objects shown in these photographs have been identified and their records linked to the apartment images. These identifications, and the knowledge of when Kress donated them, made it possible to date the apartment photographs within a few years.

Fig. 4 Samuel H. Kress apartment, Entrance Hall, 1938/40.

Fig. 4 Samuel H. Kress apartment, Entrance Hall, 1938/40.

In addition to conducting attribution research, cataloguing, and scanning the images, we completely rehoused the Kress Negative Collection. We separated the film and glass negatives, rehoused them in better fitting boxes, and packed the film in Mylar bags for cold storage. These measures will preserve this collection for researchers, who can also consult the collection through the DLI website (

Melissa Beck Lemke, Image Specialist for Italian Art, National Gallery of Art Library

Field of Vision: Landscape in the Artist’s Book

Please join us for Field of Vision: Landscape in the Artist’s Book on Thursday, August 8, 2013, 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the American Art & Portrait Gallery Library, Suite 2100, Victor Building 750 Ninth Street, NW Washington, D.C.

See the link for more information: Field of Vision: Landscape in the Artist’s Book

We promise a little wine, some munchies, and some lovely works of art in book form.

-Anne Evenhaugen, Reference Librarian, Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library

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