Monthly Archives: May 2013

Case Study on GLAM-WIKI


Over the last six months, we have added links to our Digital Collections in hundreds of relevant Wikipedia articles.  This has been carried out in collaboration with a Wikipedia editor, John Byrne, who has provided feedback on how our digital content can most constructively be embedded in Wikipedia.  Recently, John and Watson Library’s William Blueher wrote a case study on this collaboration for GLAM-WIKI (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), an arm of Wikimedia Outreach that aims to support “institutions who want to work with Wikimedia to produce open-access, freely-reusable content for the public.”  This case study details both what is involved in this collaboration, as well as the impact it has had on attracting users to the Digital Collections (there has been an over 500% increase in visitors since this collaboration began, for instance).  For more details about what we are doing with Wikipedia and how it has impacted traffic to the Digital Collections, I encourage you to check out the case study itself.  You can do so here.


George Henry Story’s collection of artists’ letters

Among the Thomas J. Watson Library’s unique materials resides an unparalleled collection of autograph and typed letters dating from 1896 through 1909 to painter, curator and museum administrator George Henry Story (1835-1922).Preface

Via a liaison, Mr. Story (Curator of Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1889-1906 and Curator Emeritus of Paintings from 1906 until his death) corresponded with living artists whose work had been acquired by the Museum asking them to supply a brief biography.  In the Preface to his collection of correspondence, he states, “The difficulty of attaining exact and indisputable data for cataloging purposes led the compiler of this collection to open a correspondence with artists who were represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and with other distinguished painters for the purpose of acquiring reliable information concerning their lives and their works, thereby securing the facts which would make the catalog of this Museum of special use as a book of reference absolutely authoritative.”

Letter from Eastman Johnson to George Story

Responses came from both American and European artists including John Singer Sargent, Eastman Johnson, Rosa Bonheur and Leon Bonnat.  Some are brief notes – like artist Felix Ziem’s business card – with a simple handwritten note.  Other messages include lengthy award lists such as one submitted by artist Carl Becker.  Story is responsible for having included artist biographies in his 1905 illustrated catalog, Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which is also available through Watson Library’s Digital Collections.

Through this collection of letters, titled Biographical letters from distinguished painters represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and others, researchers will discover first-hand how artists viewed their own contemporary achievements.

The Children’s Bulletin of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Children’s Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a quarterly publication issued by the Museum from 1916 through 1935. The first two volumes, or 13 installments, of The Children’s Bulletin were published as supplements to the Museum’s quarterly Bulletin; the subsequent 40 installments of The Children’s Bulletin were published as a separate quarterly.

The Children's Bulletin

Each Children’s Bulletin features a short story that engages young children with the themes and history of works of art selected from the Museum’s collection. These fanciful stories are often illustrated with black-and-white photographs of items in the collection, such as the Swiss porcelain stove (06.968.2) so prominently featured in Winifred E. Howe’s “The Talking Stove,” Children’s Bulletin volume 3, no. 2, June 1919. The final three volumes (12 installments) of the once-regular publication were released sporadically over the years 1928-1935, ceasing with Marie Lennox Harding’s story “Journey to Jerusalem,” volume 12, no. 4, September 1935. The final 12 installments often include hand-drawn, thematic illustrations alongside photographs of the Museum objects highlighted in each story.

The Talking Stove

The imaginative short stories in The Children’s Bulletin perfectly capture the style of juvenile literature of the early 20th century, and, nearly a century after their introduction, these stories still offer unique insight into the wide variety of items held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The full 12-volume run of The Children’s Bulletin has been digitized by Watson Library and is available online at the Library’s Digital Collections site:

Early Publications from The Cloisters Museum

Guidebook, 1926Opening Exercises, 1938Guidebook cover, late 1930s

In honor of the 75th anniversary of The Cloisters, Watson Library has digitized a rich collection of Cloisters guidebooks, exhibition catalogs, and special events publications produced by the Metropolitan Museum.  It includes all known titles starting from the time of the Met’s purchase of the original Cloisters collection in 1925 to 1963.  Some highlights from this collection include guides to the original George Grey Barnard Cloisters, and transcripts of speeches given by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. on the opening day of the “new” Cloisters in Ft. Tryon Park on May 10, 1938.

Another early publication, Herbs for the Mediæval Household, written by Margaret Freeman, offers a handsome example of the scholarly blending of art history and horticulture that has long characterized The Cloisters.
Bay Sweet, Borage

1960’s A Cloisters Bestiary utilizes animal images from the museum’s collection to create an updated form of this mainstay of medieval book production.The Unicorn
Click here to browse all pre-1964 Cloisters publications contained in Watson Library’s Digital Collections.

For more recent titles from The Cloisters and the Medieval Art Department of the Met, you can browse the “Medieval Art and The Cloisters” category of MetPublications, which includes titles published from 1964 to the present. MetPublications, a joint project of the Museum’s Editorial and Digital Media departments, includes a book description, table of contents and full text for almost every title, as well as information about the authors, reviews, awards, and links to related Met bibliographies by author, theme, or keyword.

“Champions of Liberty” from the Civil War


In the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries, there is a small volume of 20 mounted photographic portraits of prominent American men from the Civil War period. Titled simply The Photographic Album, its alternative title, “Champions of Liberty,” seems more appropriate for the wartime leaders it represents. Most well known among these “champions” are Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, pictured below:



Each of the plates bears the statement, “Entered according to act of Congress, A.D. 1865, by James Dennis Jr. & Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Rhode Island,” and the name of each individual is inscribed in a florid – if sometimes difficult to decipher – 19th century script.  18 of the 20 men have been identified, but there are still two plates with unidentified individuals, shown below:


unidentified 2

The other individuals photographed are: William H. Seward, D.G. Farragut, Phil. H. Sheridan, Geo. G. Meade, Benj. F. Butler, Joseph Hooker, Winfield Hancock, N.P. Banks, John G. Parke, H.G. Wright, G.K. Warren, Alex S. Webb, C.C. Augur, A. Doubleday, J.K. Barnes, and Edward Everett.

For those interested in the Civil War, another item  of interest might be the exhibition catalog Manet and the American Civil War. It features a number of Manet seascapes from the 1860’s, two of which take as their subject the American warship Kearsage, which sank the Confederate warship Alabama off the coast of France in 1864.  Manet’s paintings “The ‘Kearsarge’ at Boulogne” and “The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama” are both reproduced and discussed at length in this catalog.