Art and science, and sometimes art and politics, mirror each other in times of rapid change. Robert Hughes made that case in his history of modern art – noting it moved from straight representation to pointillism, cubism, and abstraction as science checked off its discoveries of the 20th Century, such as X-rays and the structure […]
Ever wonder what goes on before an exhibition is mounted and displayed? My colleague Donna Urschel takes an in-depth look at the preservation steps that were required for the Library’s “Herblock!” exhibition, on display through May 1: Preserving ‘Herblock’ a Rewarding Job for Conservators by Donna Urschel Shortly after the famous Washington Post political cartoonist […]
Even for many of those who might yawn their way through the gridiron action on Sunday between New Orleans and Indianapolis, they will perk right up and stare intently at the screen during the station breaks. Super Bowl commercials have become something of an event of their own, alongside the actual game. The Inside Adams […]
(The following is a guest article about new preservation capabilities at the LOC by my colleague Donna Urschel, which was recently published in the the Library’s staff newsletter, the Gazette.)
For many decades, details of the 1791 Pierre L’Enfant Plan of Washington, D.C.—one of the many treasures at the Library of Congress—had been obscured. A long-ago application of a varnish preservative had darkened the map’s surface. But today, thanks to special imaging techniques, the invisible streets and special locations, including the “President’s House” and “Congress’ House,” pop out.
Hyperspectral imaging, a process of taking digital photos of an object using distinct portions of the light spectrum, is revealing what previously could not be seen by the human eye.
In room 27 on the sub-basement level of the James Madison Building, fascinating details of our historical heritage are coming to light in the recently opened Optical Properties Laboratory. Operated by the Library’s Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) in the Preservation Directorate, the lab contains a hyperspectral imaging system, an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM), equipment for optical disc quality testing and a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) system.
The new lab enhances the Library’s capability to use nondestructive analytical techniques to track changes in optical properties of materials, helping conservators, curators and librarians extend the life of the collections. Along the way, many interesting details about the documents are revealed.
The Optical Properties Lab is one of three new labs in the Preservation Directorate. Two more will open in the Madison Building in 2010: the Chemical and Physical Properties laboratories. The new equipment and redesigned space will bring the 30-year-old science labs of the Preservation Directorate into the 21st century.
In 1867, the American West was still very much wild. It was into that new frontier that a young photographer named Timothy O’Sullivan ventured to provide a visual record of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, led by Clarence King. As much a PR effort to encourage settlement of the West as it was […]
(Guest post by Michelle Springer, Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives) Jan. 16 is the two-year anniversary of the launch of the Library’s account on Flickr, the photosharing website. We started with approximately 3,100 photos in our account; today 30 additional archives, libraries, and museums from the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, the […]
As America prepares to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday later this month, the Library of Congress also will have two offerings in February in commemoration of African American History Month. On Feb. 3, the Library will launch a new online exhibition about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an […]
Today Katherine Paterson, the author of “Bridge to Terabithia,” “Jacob Have I Loved,” “The Day of the Pelican” and more than 30 other children’s books, was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. She summarized her platform for the reading-promotion post in four words: “Read for your life.” […]
… And despite all good cheer, It sized up as “boringest night of the year.” Still 36 hours until Christmas dawning, And reruns of reruns were leaving ‘em yawning. The tree decorating had happened last week The lineup of movies appeared rather bleak. The cookies were eaten; the sprinkles were scattered No Christmas ‘till Christmas! […]
There’s something very satisfying in music about the number three: three notes in a basic chord, a romantic waltz in 3/4 time, the three-movement form of early symphonies. So it’s appropriate that the Library’s third blog (behind this one and “Inside Adams” from the Science, Technology and Business Division) would come from the Music Division. […]