Monthly Archives: June 2013

Wikipedia Case Study on Museums Association Website

As mentioned in an earlier post, William Blueher has been collaborating with an editor at Wikipedia, John Byrne, to add links to items in the Digital Collections to relevant Wikipedia articles.  This collaboration was also discussed in a recent GLAM-WIKI “case study,” co-authored by William and John, and now a similar “case study” has been published on the UK Museums Association website. This online-only article briefly discusses the collaboration between Watson Library and Wikipedia, available in the “Museum Practice” section of the website. To learn more about how Watson Library is working to both enhance Wikipedia and drive users to the Digital Collections, take a look at the article here.


Also, if you’re interested in getting a better understanding of how this collaboration works, please visit the Wikipedia user-page created by William (username: WilliamDigiCol) that illustrates the process used to add content to Wikipedia.  As you will see, William selects a text in the Digital Collections and then proposes a number of relevant Wikipedia articles to link it to.  John then looks over these proposals and suggests other relevant articles or points out potentially irrelevant ones. This page provides extensive documentation of this collaboration, and it helps to give an idea of the scope of this collaboration.  So far hundreds of Wikipedia articles have been updated with links to the Digital Collections, and as both case studies point out, this has served to greatly increase traffic to the Digital Collections (for instance, more than 50% of traffic to the Digital Collections now comes from Wikipedia).


Currently, Wikipedia is driving the most traffic to the exhibition catalog Leonardo da Vinci: anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle. You can see each of the Wikipedia articles this catalog has been linked to here (there is a link in over 50 articles).


Miniature Books and Balloon Mania

In 1783, brothers Joseph-Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (1745-1799) made history with the debut of the hot air balloon.  After the device’s first manned flight and subsequent public exhibitions, and as the French nobility clamored for more information on balloons and ballooning, images of the Montgolfiers’ contraption became ubiquitous in popular culture including fashion, hairstyles, decorative arts and publishing.


L’Amour dans le globe, with gilt balloon ornaments on the spine and the corners of both covers, is an illustrated history of the Montgolfiers’s hot-air balloon development, including folded engravings that depict the progression from early tests to the more fantastic demonstrations staged for Louis XVI at Versailles.


The two individuals depicted inside the gilt balloon stamp on the front cover of the Almanach Royal and Le calendrier de la cour, are not the Montgolfier brothers but Jacques-Alexandre-César Charles (1746-1823) and Marie-Noël Robert (1760-1820), collaborators of the world’s first hydrogen balloon.  Known as the charlière balloon, Charles’s and Robert’s invention debuted on the Champs de Mars in Paris two months after the Montgolfier Brothers launched their first hot air balloon.  These three volumes are part of a gift from Mrs. Charles Wrightsman of sixty-five fine bindings.

Written by Holly Phillips and Diane De Fazio


Pictorialist Photography Exhibition Catalogs, 1891–1914


One of the first projects we undertook upon establishing the Thomas J. Watson Library’s digitization initiative a few years ago was a collaboration with the Department of Photographs and its Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library. The Menschel Library’s holdings in Pictorialist photography exhibition catalogs are unmatched, and provided an easily identifiable batch of valuable research materials with which to begin. The fragile nature of many of these catalogs required great care in handling and scanning their contents.

Malcolm Daniel, senior curator in the Department of Photographs, authored a “Now at the Met” post that explains the importance and context of this collection of exhibition catalogs. We are grateful for the support provided to our digitization initiative by Joyce F. Menschel and the Department of Photographs.

Four Recent Additions to the Rare Books Collection

Part of what makes the Digital Collections such an exciting resource is that new and diverse material is constantly being added to it. Four recent additions to the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection illustrate the rich and varied nature of the material being digitized. For instance, there is this publication from 1864 with the wonderfully loquacious Victorian title, How we spent the summer, or, A “Voyage en zigzag” in Switzerland and Tyrol with some members of the Alpine Club: from the sketch book of one of the party. This sketch book is filled with illustrations and captions that bring this “voyage” to life. HowWeSpentTheSummer

Then, in a completely different vein, there is this Italian publication from 1555, possibly printed by Prospero Danza, which is currently the second oldest item in the Digital Collections (the current oldest was published 5 years earlier, in 1550).


Next we have this 20th century napkin and cutlery trade catalog.  Its description reads, “Published by German flatware manufacturer, Gebrüder Ring, this catalog highlights the company’s patented silver-plated cutlery with eleven spreads pairing different product lines with instructions for and depictions of decorative folded napkins.”


Finally, there is this 19th century photographic album of The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Here is one image of the cathedral’s exterior:


To browse more items in the Rare Books collection, go here.