Skip to Content

Found 1,924 Resources

Female figure with child

National Museum of African Art
Female figure seated crosslegged on a square plinth with a small male child across her knees. The smaller figure has one hand on his penis, one on the woman's breast. Added decoration on the female figure includes brass tacks on the forehead, inlaid glass eyes, a blue glass bead necklace, geometric scarification on the chest and back and a representation of a knotted fiber cap of high status.

Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Dixie Recipes

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A 48 page booklet containing various recipes attributed to the cooking traditions of the American South. The front cover bears the title [SOUTHERN / COOK BOOK / Of / Fine Old Dixie Recipes] and the text [322 Fine Tested Recipes / 40 Characteristic Illustrations / 50 Poems and Spirituals]. The cover illustration is of two women and a child standing in a kitchen around a table. The older woman wears a blue dress and white apron and headscarf. She stands behind the table and stirs a mixing bowl. A younger woman in a floral patterned blue and orange dress with matching headscarf stands in front of the table with her hand resting on it, facing the older woman. A young girl with pigtails and an orange quilted dress stands with her back to the viewer and her hands up on the table. A plaque hangs on the wall between the two women and reads [A Good Dinner / Sharpens the Wits / and / Softens the Heart]. The artist's signature is in the lower lefthand corner.

The book itself is divided into 22 different categories: Appetizers, Beverages, Bread and Biscuits, Cakes, Candies, Eggs, Fritters Pancakes Waffles and Mush, Fruit and Vegetables, Icings, Jellies and Jams, Meat, Meat and Poultry Stuffing, Misc. Items, Pies, Potatoes, Poultry, Puddings, Salads and Relishes, Sauces and Dressings, Sea Food, Small Cakes and Cookies, and Soups.

Most pages in the book contain a charcoal pencil illustration in the bottom left or right hand corner. These illustrations are predominantly of men, women, and children performing labors and eating or preparing food with a few landscape vignettes. Often the drawing seems in part to be an illustration of a few lines of song or poem that accompanies it.

Two sections of verse, "De Cote House In De Sky" and "Oh, Elephant, You Shall Be Free!" are printed on the inside of the front and back covers, respectively.

Patti the Patagonian Pig Marionette

National Museum of American History
The circus has a long history in America entertainment beginning in the 18thc, Traveling by wagon and train the circus exposed Americans to sites and sounds never seen before, including exotic animals, people from far away lands and daring performances that required great skill and bravery. Popular with all ages, the Haines brought the spirit of the circus to hundreds of people in an around Philadelphia through their elaborate puppet shows.

The Haines' circus puppet characters included Tightrope Star, Mitzi from Vienna, Boxers Kanga and Roo, Patagonian Pigs Pinkie and Patti, Tony the Dog in clown outfit, performing bears Laska, Pete and Repete, Flying Trapeze Artist Tim, Mugsy the Barker, and a Ringmaster..

Pinkie and Patti, the Patagonian pigs are standing side by side

holding wooden sticks with leather heads and playing the marimba. The instrument is made of wood and decorated with colorful fringe around the front. Their heads are carved from wood painted pink with black eyes and bright red lips. The heads swivel at the neck.. The wooden torso is hinged at the waist and their one piece arms and legs are hinged at the top sockets. Patti is dressed in a gold satin ruffled blouse and a long paisley print gathered skirt of many bright colors. Her head is covered with a bright pink wrapped turban embellished with straw fruit and flowers and she wears a blue grass multi strand necklace, gold bead earrings and gold bracelets on both wrists. . Patti is operated with a 2--piece wooden T-shaped control and a separate one piece bar control with 7 strings.

19th Century Kid (Queen Victoria)

National Museum of African Art
Mannequin of a young girl without a head and dressed in a Victorian style dress made from brightly colored contemporary printed fabric decorated with a soccer ball and flower pattern.

Human Flesh Looks Like Beef, But the Taste Is More Elusive

Smithsonian Magazine

Even if you have no desire to eat the flesh of fellow humans, it's not so uncommon to wonder from time to time what human flesh looks and tastes like. io9 recently took up the first question and explained that human flesh firmly falls into the red meat camp. Beef, they concluded, would be the closest visual equivalent of a human fillet or rump roast. io9 explains the science behind the color:

Muscle's red color can be traced to the presence of a richly pigmented protein called myoglobin and, more specifically, hemes, the chemical compounds that myoglobin uses to bind and store oxygen as a fuel source for active muscles. 

According to the Meat Science section of Texas A&M University's Department of Animal Science, pork, lamb and beef average 2, 6 and 8 milligrams of myoglobin per gram of muscle (that translates to a myoglobin concentration of 0.2%, 0.6% and 0.8%), respectively. 

The concentration of myoglobin in human muscle tissues is relatively high – even relative to pigs, sheep and cows, coming in at close to 20 mg per gram of certain muscle fibers, or a 2% concentration of myoglobin.

But, according to the testimony of people who have actually eaten other people, the taste of human meat does not reflect its beef-like appearance. Both serial killers and Polynesian cannibals have described human as being most akin to pork. But not all cannibals agree with this description. William Seabrook, an author and journalist, traveled to West Africa in the 1920s and later described an encounter with man-flesh in great detail in his book, Jungle Ways. Human, he said, in fact tastes like veal. Here's Seabrook's description

It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted. It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal. It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have. The steak was slightly tougher than prime veal, a little stringy, but not too tough or stringy to be agreeably edible. The roast, from which I cut and ate a central slice, was tender, and in color, texture, smell as well as taste, strengthened my certainty that of all the meats we habitually know, veal is the one meat to which this meat is accurately comparable.

This account is the most descriptive to date, but it has also been called into question. As Slate reports, Seabrook "later confessed that the distrustful tribesmen never allowed him to partake in their traditions." Instead, the author insisted that he attained samples of human flesh from a Parisian hospital and cooked it up himself.  

Regardless of Seabrook's credibility, however, Slate points out that, like any meat, the flavor of human would likely depend a great deal on how it is prepared, and also what cut is sampled. The Azande tribe's human stew likely tastes entirely different from the deep-fried, parsley-strewn human genitals a Japanese exhibitionist artist recently served at a dinner party. In the end, both pork and veal might be accurate approximations to the flavor of human meat, though—thankfully—most will never find out for themselves. 

Negroes fishing in creek near cotton plantations outside Belzoni Miss. Delta, October 1939

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A dye transfer color photograph of rural life outside of Belzoni, Mississippi by Marion Post Wolcott. At a daytime muddy creek near a cotton plantation, a man and three women fish. They are surrounded by dry foliage and dull green mature trees. Seated along the edges of the creek, the man, crouched, wears a sand-colored hat; bright shirt; dark trousers, and holds a long fishing rod in his proper right hand. Seated to his proper left, arms crossed, is a woman wearing a light-colored long sleeve dress and light-colored wide-brim bucket hat. To her proper left sits another woman, her legs sprawled towards the water. She wears a light-colored wide-brim hat and blouse, and holds a fishing rod. Nearer to the unseen photographer among the dry foliage, at the bottom right of the camera’s frame, stands a woman wearing a long pink dress over a short sleeve shirt and wide-brim hat. She holds a fishing rod in her proper right hand. The back of the photograph, from the top left corner to bottom right, features provenance marks and inscriptions: [RWFA 1868 / PF113003-111 / ARTIST: MARION POST WOLCOTT / TITLE: NEGROES FISHING IN CREEK NEAR COTTON PLANTATIONS OUTSIDE BELZONI MISS. DELTA / TRANSPARENCY DATE: OCT. 1939 / PRINTING DATE: 12/86 / LIGHT GALLERY REG. NO.: 107.8]. Beneath the authentication disclaimer is the signature [Tennyson Schad].

Negroes fishing in creek near cotton plantations outside Belzoni Miss. Delta, October 1939

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A dye transfer photograph of rural life outside of Belzoni, Mississippi by Marion Post Wolcott. At a daytime muddy creek near a cotton plantation, a man and three women fish, surrounded by dry foliage and dull green mature trees. Seated along the edges of the creek, the man, crouched, wears a sand-colored hat; bright shirt; dark trousers, and holds high a long fishing rod. To his proper left, leaning forward on her knees, is a woman wearing a light-colored long sleeve dress and light-colored wide-brim bucket hat. To her proper left sits another woman, her legs crossed towards the water. She wears a light-colored wide-brim hat and blouse, and holds a fishing rod in her proper right hand. Nearer to the unseen photographer amidst the water dry foliage, at the bottom left of the camera’s frame, stands a woman wearing a long pink dress over a short sleeve shirt and wide-brim hat. She holds a fishing rod in both hands. The back of the photograph from the top left corner to bottom right, features provenance marks and inscriptions: [RWFA 1950 / PF112995-111 / ARTIST: MARION POST WOLCOTT / TITLE: NEGROES FISHING IN CREEK NEAR COTTON PLANTATIONS OUTSIDE BELZONI MISS. DELTA / TRANSPARENCY DATE: OCT. 1939 / PRINTING DATE: 12/86 / LIGHT GALLERY REG. NO.: 107.8]. Beneath the authentication disclaimer is the signature [Tennyson Schad].

Poster for A Series of Events Endangered: Art and Performance by Men of Color

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A two-sided poster on glossy paper advertising for a series of events. The title on the front of poster in black type reads: [A Series Of Events / ENDANGERED: / ART AND PERFORMANCE BY MEN OF COLOR]. Underneath the title, there are bullet points with text in black type in two columns providing the name of the featured participant, date and time of the events. The first bullet point reads: [Visiting Video Artist MARLON RIGGS / Thursday & Friday, October 4 & 5, 8 p.m. / ETHNIC NOTIONS & COLOR ADJUSTMENT / Saturday & Sunday, October 6 & 7, 8 p.m. / TONGUES UNTIED, AFFIRMATIONS, & CONFESSIONS OF A SNAP QUEEN]. The background of the poster front is a light purple with slightly darker purple silhouettes of three men. Each silhouette stands in the same position: head up with one hand spread and bent in the front, the other hand is curved behind the back. The proper right leg is bent up with the thigh parallel with ground. The first and third silhouette are cut off on the sides of the poster. Information for the gallery and admission is listed in the bottom right side of the poster (lined up with the right column) and reads: [Intermedia Arts Gallery / 413 First Avenue North / Downtown Minneapolis / Admission price for video events is $5/$3 members. Admission for performance events is $8/$6 members. The visual art exhibition is free. For ticket information or reservations, call 612/627-4444. / Poster art by Seitu Jones]. The reverse side of the poster is split into two columns with additional information on the participants (Name, dates and times of performances, background information, and a black-and-white image). Marlon Riggs is at the top of the left column. In the top right corner there is a blank space that can be used for mailing this poster. The black type reads: [INTERMEDIA / ARTS / MINNESOTA / 425 Ontario Street SE / Minneapolis, MN 55414]. There is an inscription written by hand in pencil underneath that reads: [1990]. There is also a postage message reading [Nonprofit / Organization / US Postage / PAID / Minneapolis, MN / Permit #155] in black type and outlined in thin black solid line.

Sustainability Matters: Week One Stats on Waste Diversion

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
One of our many resource recovery stations. Photo by Brian Barger, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution
One of our many resource recovery stations.
Photo by Brian Barger, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution

Have you noticed the resource recovery stations at the Folklife Festival, with bins for compost, recycling, and landfill waste? Have you noticed that the landfill bins are always nearly empty?

At the Festival we are committed to sustainability, working with food vendors and visitors in minimizing our environmental footprint. So far, during the first week of the Festival—and including the Smithsonian staff picnic on the Festival grounds on Tuesday—we have broken our records in diversion efforts.

Total waste collected: 23. 6 tons
Composted: 12.5 tons
Recycled: 9.2 tons
Total diverted from landfill: 91.8%

The 2013 Festival was our first in offering both recycling and composting options. Over the two weeks, we diverted approximately 74 percent of waste, including 20 tons of compost and 16.5 tons of recyclables. This year we have required our food vendors to use entirely compostable wares, from sugarcane fiber clamshell boxes to corn and potato starch forks. Even cooking oil from the concessions is collected to process into biofuel.

Some of the materials are recycled on site, as Kenyan artists from Kitengela Glass are building a small hut out of beer bottles from the concession stands. Vinyl signs from Festivals past have been recycled into sturdy tote bags for sale in the Marketplace.

Eric Hollinger leads our sustainability team, a diversion—although not unrelated—from his regular job as an archeologist at the National Museum of Natural History. “I study trash for a living!” he says. He described the Festival grounds as an archeological site, where we can learn about human habits through what they leave behind.

“We’re continually observing and thinking of how to improve things,” he says.

As we talked with sustainability interns Ridley Vann and Sarah Gaines, on assignment from the Smithsonian Office of Facilities Management and Reliability, they started brainstorming how to cover up the National Park Service trash cans in the future so that more waste can be properly sorted in our bins. They said that already visitors from other organizations and festivals, including the D.C. Green Festival and Arlington County, have been asking for advice based on the success of our sustainability efforts.

If you are interested in volunteering with the sustainability team this week, contact volunteer coordinator Becky Squire at

Elisa Hough is the editor for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and self-appointed trash sorter for the audio/visual documentation office trailer.

Don’t Miss These 11 New Museum Exhibitions This Winter

Smithsonian Magazine

As the days grow shorter and colder, museums across the country are pushing out a slew of winter exhibits to entertain and educate just about everyone throughout the season. From the timeline of Charlie Brown to history of food sculptures, spectacularly colored frogs to a gender-fluid art installation, there will be plenty of diversions available to help banish the cold-weather doldrums this year. These 11 new winter exhibits are just a few can’t-miss events to help get you through the winter.

Charles M. Schulz Museum—You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
(Santa Rosa, CA; February 23, 2017 – July 16, 2017)

(Courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, Santa Rosa, California. )

The musical theater show You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown first debuted in New York on March 7, 1967, and is one of the most frequently performed in the history of American theater. In fact, during the four years spanning its off-Broadway debut through the end of its original run in 1971, the show clocked 1,597 performances. To celebrate the production's 50th anniversary in 2017, the Charles M. Schulz Museum—dedicated to the works of the cartoonist Schulz—will open an exhibit of the same name

Visitors to the exhibit will find rare items relating to the show’s performances, including original scripts with handwritten notes and drawings, original music scores, cast photos, playbills and more.

Detroit Institute of Arts—The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals
(Detroit, MI; December 16, 2016 to April 16, 2017)

“Cuccagna Arch of Bread, Cheese, and Suckling Pigs on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, Anonymous, woodcut. (Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute)

Between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, nearly every public celebration, street parade, and court banquet featured towering edible sculptures. Comprised of bread, cheese, meat, sugar, flowers, and fruit, these sweet and savory confections took center stage at each public event. The Edible Monument looks at these historical food creations through 140 prints, rare books, and serving manuals.

The exhibit comes with its own edible monument, as well; sculptor and culinary historian Ivan Day will display a sugar sculpture named “Palace of Circe,” based on an 18th-century print that famously depicts the ancient Greek hero, Ulysses. It will include a sugar temple with sugar statues and sugar-sand gardens.

Mütter Museum—Tracing the Remains
(Philadelphia, PA; January 13, 2017 – July 6, 2017)

Fiber art by Sabrina Small. (Courtesy of the Mütter Museum)

Tracing the Remains touches on the Mütter Museum’s mission in a unique way: through the intricate construction of fiber arts. Using beautiful artwork throughout the exhibit, local artists Sabrina Small and Caitlin McCormack employ their experience with beadwork, embroidery, and crochet to illustrate the effects of chronic illness. The pieces transform the museum’s collections into personal narrative, exploring the timelines of life, death, and decay.

Newseum—Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics
(Washington, D.C.; January 13, 2017 – July 31, 2017)

John Lennon originally acquired this guitar in 1964 to replace an identical one that was stolen. He used it extensively throughout his career. It was prominently seen in the film Help! In 1967, the guitar was painted psychedelic blue and red by the Fool, the Dutch art cooperative that also painted Lennon’s Rolls-Royce. In 1968, Lennon had the guitar’s finish stripped to the natural wood finish. Lennon and Yoko Ono held two “bed-ins” for peace in March and May of 1969, which Lennon commemorated by drawing caricatures of Yoko and himself on the guitar. It was during the second bed-in, held at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, that the single “Give Peace a Chance” was recorded, using this guitar. (Collection of the Estate of John Lennon)

In partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, this winter the Newseum will explore how rock music can potentially change attitudes about patriotism, equality, freedom, and peace. And it's not just the music—Louder Than Words also focuses on the artists themselves, examining how they have exercised their First Amendment rights to challenge beliefs and affect change.

One of the most exciting pieces in the exhibit is the guitar John Lennon debuted when he introduced the song “Give Peace a Chance” with Yoko Ono. Other parts of the display explore Bob Dylan, U2, Rage Against the Machine, and more.

Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University—In Search of Noble Marbles: The Earliest Travelers to Greece
(Atlanta, GA; January 14, 2017 – April 9, 2017)

Engraving of the destruction of the Parthenon by the bombardment of the Venetian general Francesco Morosini in 1678. From Francesco Fanelli, Atene Attica descritta (Venice 1707). (Courtesy of the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University)

From 1453 to the 1820s, Greece was ruled by a brutal political regime, making it nearly inaccessible to the Western world. A select few intrepid explorers were able to venture into the country, documenting what they saw in exacting detail. Noble Marbles investigates these explorations.

Separated into three parts, the exhibit first tracks early travelers up to the point of Greece’s movement toward independence. Here, visitors can see the first printed image of Athens dating to 1493. The second part of the exhibit focuses on explorers of the Ionian Islands, and the third part highlights monuments as works of art.

Florida Museum of Natural History—Frogs! A Chorus of Colors
(Gainesville, FL; January 28, 2017 – September 4, 2017)

A green and black poison frog. (Reptiland)

Nature’s colorful display will be hopping into the Florida Museum of Natural History this winter with an exhibit that's, well...all about frogs. Guests will have the chance to visually experience stunning live anurans—the common frog and toad—and learn how each has adapted to survival in the wild. It’s a hands-on exhibit, too; visitors can take part in a hidden frog scavenger hunt, activate frog calls, and even perform a virtual dissection. 

The museum will also host a 5K race on February 11 to celebrate the opening of the exhibit. Interested? You can sign up here.

International Museum of Surgical Science—Kjell Theory
(Chicago, IL; January 20, 2017 – February 26, 2017)

Part of the Kjell Theory exhibit. (Courtesy of the International Museum of Surgical Science)

In a surrealistic shout-out to Alan Turing—a gay computing pioneer frequently credited as "the father of the computer," and later a biologist—and to Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 opéra bouffe, Les Mamelles de Tirésias, Kjell Theory is a juxtoposition. The resulting exhibit straddles the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds—the past and future, male and female genders, and human life and machine.

The exhibit is named for Turing’s theory of morphogenesis—the autonomous generation of natural forms—that itself is named after a love interest, Kjell, whom Turing met in Norway.

The National Museum of American History—Puppets & Muppets
(Washington, D.C.; November 23, 2016 – January 8, 2017)

The Cookie Monster. (Courtesy of The National Museum of American History)

Celebrate the country’s historical pastime of puppet-based entertainment at Puppets and Muppets this winter. The exhibit showcases puppets and marionettes from the National Museum of American History’s collection, and investigates the evolution of puppetry as an art form.

Among the standout pieces in the exhibit are a marionette from the 1963 World’s Fair, a royal marionette duo from 1900, Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit from Captain Kangaroo, and some of Jim Henson’s beloved creations: Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the first Kermit ever created.

Whitney Museum of American Art—Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s
(New York, NY; throughout the winter season – check with the museum for dates)

Kenny Scharf (b. 1958). When the Worlds Collide, 1984. Oil and acrylic spray paint on canvas, 122 5/16 × 209 5/16in. (310.7 × 531.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Edward R. Downe, Jr. and Eric Fischl 84.44. (2016 Kenny Scharf/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York )

It's true, the decade known for its oversized shoulder pads and neon colors actually offered another unique aspect: its art. Fast Forward looks specifically at paint-based creations and how artists used the medium throughout the 1980s, investigating expressive figuration, conceptual practices, and painterly abstraction. There is a particular focus on the politically and socially charged artwork of the time.

Well-known artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, Elizabeth Murray, David Salle, and Terry Winters are represented in the exhibit, as are more obscure painters who round out the aesthetic and commentary on display.

Kennedy Space Center—U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
(Titusville, FL; November 10, 2016 – ongoing)

Opening day at Heroes and Legends, and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. (Courtesy of the Kennedy Space Center)

Get to know nearly 100 world-famous astronauts at the newly opened U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Plaques and portraits line the walls of a tech-enhanced rotunda, providing an interactive way to “meet” the astronauts who are honored within. As a bonus, guests can virtually pose with one of the Mercury Seven astronauts in a special photo opportunity.

The Hall of Fame is tucked inside the new Heroes and Legends exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center, a multisensory experience that transports visitors into the inner workings of NASA’s space program and introduces the astronauts who make it all possible. Heroes and Legends uses cutting-edge technology to fully immerse guests—from a 4D theater to holograms to augmented reality.

The Franklin Institute—Jurassic World: The Exhibition
(Philadelphia, PA; November 25, 2016 – April 23, 2017)

Fans of the Jurassic Park franchise have a chance to step into the ultimate theme park—Jurassic World—at this new exhibit. With elements inspired by scenes from the film, visitors will be immersed in the prehistoric world. Animatronic dinosaurs like the brachiosaurus, velociraptor, and tyrannosaurus rex tower up to 24 feet tall. And the information in the exhibit is backed by science; it was created in collaboration with paleontologist Jack Horner, who worked on the original films.

For a great photo op, snap a selfie walking through the iconic Jurassic World Gates. From there, you can visit a petting zoo and the Hammond Creation Lab, plus get a sneak peek at the amusement park’s top-secret project.

Intriguing images of Dr. George Washington Carver

National Museum of American History

Several years ago, the museum acquired this striking portrait of Dr. George Washington Carver, the famous African American scientist and educator. It is identified as a Psycho Beautigraph etching, one made by artist Felix B. Gaines and copyrighted in 1946.

Image of Dr. Carver

Gaines probably based his artwork on a photographic portrait of Dr. Carver made by Arthur Rothstein in March 1942. Rothstein worked for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, and he photographed scenes at the Tuskegee Institute as part of a project known as the "Negro colleges and universities" series. It is possible that Rothstein's photo of Carver was published in LOOK magazine sometime after Carver's death in January 1943. Rothstein was a staff photographer from 1940 and later director of photography for LOOK. Gaines, an artist from Birmingham, Alabama, could well have seen the magazine with the Rothstein photo. It inspired the portrait he made that employed a special method he developed and copyrighted.

Photograph of Dr. Carver

What exactly is a Psycho Beautigraph etching? We'd love to know! The Carver portrait offers some interesting challenges, beginning with identifying how it was made and how it relates to other prints of the period, both commercial and artistic. Presumably the term "psycho" refers to the psychology of the portrait's sensitive investigation of character, as shown in the photograph and the resulting print. The background texture of the image resembles the cross-hatched fibers of a peanut shell, one of Carver's primary subjects for his experiments, and Gaines described some of his portraits using the term "peanut etching." The complicated surfaces represented in the print also may be responses to the brick background wall in Rothstein's photograph and the textures of Carver's clothing.

Image of Dr. Carver

Gaines (1908–1991) is another part of the mystery. He is identified in census records and an obituary as an artist who lived in Birmingham, but beyond that we know little about him and his work. Many African American printmakers are under-studied and even unknown. We'd like to learn more about Gaines, his career, and his place in American graphic art. We've contacted several Alabama institutions, including the Tuskegee archives, but very little information is available.

One of the clues we found suggests how Gaines marketed his prints to audiences in the American south. A 1949 newspaper account from St. Petersburg, Florida, told how he planned to distribute his portrait of Dr. Carver to black schools and churches in the area, including Clearwater and Tampa. Elliot Robbins, a Tuskegee graduate and Gaines's assistant, spoke to the Merchants Association of St. Petersburg about the project. He explained that they would use Carver's portrait as a model commemorating him as a great scientist and humanitarian, as well as to encourage young people to seek higher education "through which racial tolerance and a better understanding may be fostered between the races." School officials, civic leaders, and ministers were cooperating—but it should be remembered that in this period, these institutions were segregated, and so any such cooperation would have been limited within the black community.

The museum has two versions of this portrait. One (at the top of this post) is a photo-print measuring about fourteen by eighteen inches. It probably was used as an intermediate between Gaines' original and the reproductions made for distribution to schools and churches. The other (the matted version shown in this post) is a photo-lithograph, reduced in size, and measuring about four by six inches. It is housed in a paper mat labeled "Peanut Etching," with a line image of two peanuts and the artist's stylized signature. The term "Peanut Etching" was used to describe the prints distributed in Florida. The artist found ways to produce and promote his work in multiple formats, and other examples may turn up. In the larger story of the production and consumption of visual culture, Felix B. Gaines is an intriguing figure whose prints offer primary evidence for further examination.

Helena E. Wright is the Curator of Graphic Arts in the Division of Culture and the Arts. She has also blogged about a lush Valentine in our collection. Please note: these collection objects are not currently on display in the museum. 

OSayCanYouSee?d=qj6IDK7rITs OSayCanYouSee?d=7Q72WNTAKBA OSayCanYouSee?i=XU_J7ZlZgs4:_uybi2Ty4S8:V_sGLiPBpWU OSayCanYouSee?i=XU_J7ZlZgs4:_uybi2Ty4S8:gIN9vFwOqvQ OSayCanYouSee?d=yIl2AUoC8zA

Achetez Vous Etrennes au Bazar des Halles et Postes

National Air and Space Museum
"Achetez vous etrennes au bazar des halles et postes" poster. Colored lithograph print adhered to loose-woven natural fiber fabric. This is mounted to a close-woven plain weave natural fiber fabric, attached to a black wooden dowel and support on either end.

The Birth of Flight: NASM Collections

The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. Enormous crowds gathered in Paris to watch one balloon after another rise above the city rooftops, carrying the first human beings into the air in the closing months of 1783.The excitement quickly spread to other European cities where the first generation of aeronauts demonstrated the wonder of flight. Everywhere the reaction was the same. In an age when men and women could fly, what other wonders might they achieve.

"Among all our circle of friends," one observer noted, "at all our meals, in the antechambers of our lovely women, as in the academic schools, all one hears is talk of experiments, atmospheric air, inflammable gas, flying cars, journeys in the sky." Single sheet prints illustrating the great events and personalities in the early history of ballooning were produced and sold across Europe. The balloon sparked new fashion trends and inspired new fads and products. Hair and clothing styles, jewelry, snuffboxes, wallpaper, chandeliers, bird cages, fans, clocks, chairs, armoires, hats, and other items, were designed with balloon motifs.

Thanks to the generosity of several generations of donors, the National Air and Space Museum maintains one of the world's great collections of objects and images documenting and celebrating the invention and early history of the balloon. Visitors to the NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport can see several display cases filled with the riches of this collection. We are pleased to provide visitors to our web site with access to an even broader range of images and objects from this period. We invite you to share at least a small taste of the excitement experienced by those who witness the birth of the air age.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Present at Creation:

The NASM Collection of Objects Related to Early Ballooning

The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph-Michel (August 26, 1740-June 26, 1810) and Jacques Etienne (January 6, 1745 - August 2, 1799), launched the air age when they flew a hot air balloon from the town square of Annonay, France, on June 4, 1783. Members of a family that had been manufacturing paper in the Ardèche region of France for generations, the Montgolfiers were inspired by recent discoveries relating to the composition of the atmosphere. Joseph led the way, building and flying his first small hot air balloons late in 1782, before enlisting his brother in the enterprise.

Impatient for the Montgolfiers to demonstrate their balloon in Paris, Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, a pioneering geologist and member of the Académie Royale, sold tickets to a promised ascension and turned the money over to Jacques Alexandre-César Charles (1746-1823), a chemical experimenter whom he had selected to handle the design, construction and launch of a balloon. Charles flew the first small hydrogen balloon from the Champs de Mars, near the present site of the Eiffel Tower, on August 27, 1783. Not to be outdone, the Montgolfiers sent the first living creatures (a sheep, a duck and a rooster) aloft from Versailles on September 19.

Pilatre de Rozier, a scientific experimenter, and François Laurent, the marquis D'Arlandes, became the first human beings to make a free flight on November 21. Less than two weeks later, on December 1, 1783, J.A. C. Charles and M.N. Robert made the first free flight aboard a hydrogen balloon from the Jardin des Tuileries.

A wave of excitement swept across Paris as the gaily decorated balloons rose, one after another, over the skyline of the city. Throughout the summer and fall of 1783 the crowds gathering to witness the ascents grew ever larger. As many as 400,000 people - literally half of the population of Paris -- gathered in the narrow streets around the Château des Tuileries to watch Charles and Robert disappear into the heavens.

The wealthy and fashionable set purchased tickets of admission to the circular enclosure surrounding the launch site. Guards had a difficult time restraining the crush of citizens swarming the nearby streets, and crowding the Place de Louis XV (now the Place de la Concorde) and the garden walkways leading toward the balloon. People climbed walls and clambered out of windows onto roofs in search of good vantage points.

"It is impossible to describe that moment:" wrote one observer of a balloon launch, "the women in tears, the common people raising their hands to the sky in deep silence; the passengers leaning out of the gallery, waving and crying out in joy… the feeling of fright gives way to wonder." One group of spectators greeted a party of returning aeronauts with the question: "Are you men or Gods?" In an age when human beings could fly, what other wonders might the future hold?

The balloons had an enormous social impact. The huge, seething crowds were something new under the sun. The spectators who gathered in such huge numbers were just becoming accustomed to the idea of change. The old certainties of their grandparent's world were giving way to an expectation that the twin enterprises of science and technology would provide the foundation for "progress."

The balloons sparked new fashion trends and inspired new fads and products. Hair and clothing styles, jewelry, snuffboxes, wallpaper, chandeliers, bird cages, fans, clocks, chairs, armoires, hats, and other items, were designed with balloon motifs. Party guests sipped Créme de l' Aérostatique liqueur and danced the Contredanse de Gonesse in honor of the Charles globe.

The Americans who were living in Paris to negotiate a successful conclusion to the American revolution were especially fascinated by the balloons. It seemed only fitting that, at a time when their countrymen were launching a new nation, human beings were throwing off the tyranny of gravity. The oldest and youngest members of the diplomatic community were the most seriously infected with "balloonamania."

"All conversation here at present turns upon the Balloons…and the means of managing them so as to give Men the Advantage of Flying," Benjamin Franklin informed an English friend, Richard Price. Baron Grimm, another Franklin acquaintance, concurred. "Among all our circle of friends," he wrote, "at all our meals, in the antechambers of our lovely women, as in the academic schools, all one hears is talk of experiments, atmospheric air, inflammable gas, flying cars, journeys in the sky."

Franklin noted that small balloons, made of scraped animal membranes, were sold "everyday in every quarter." He was invited to visit a friend's home for "tea and balloons," and attended a fête at which the duc de Chartres distributed "little phaloid balloonlets" to his guests. At another memorable entertainment staged by the duc de Crillon, Franklin witnessed the launch of a hydrogen balloon some five feet in diameter that kept a lantern aloft for over eleven hours.

The senior American diplomat in Paris purchased one of the small balloons as a present for his grandson and secretary, William Temple Franklin. Released in a bed chamber, "it went up to the ceiling and remained rolling around there for some time." Franklin emptied the membrane of hydrogen and forwarded it to Richard Price so that he and Sir Joseph Banks might repeat the experiment. The delightful little toy was thus not only the first balloon to be owned by an American but also the first to reach England. Both Franklins were soon supplying little balloons to friends across Europe.

Sixteen year old John Quincy Adams also took note of the small balloons offered for sale by street vendors. "The flying globes are still very much in vogue," he wrote on September 22. "They have advertised a small one of eight inches in diameter at 6 livres apiece without air [hydrogen] and 8 livres with it. .. Several accidents have happened to persons who have attempted to make inflammable air, which is a dangerous operation, so that the government has prohibited them."

There was a general sense that the colorful globes marked the beginning of a new age in which science and technology would effect startling change. The results and the implications of the revolution in physics and chemistry underway for over a century were largely unknown outside an elite circle of privileged cognoscenti. The balloon was unmistakable proof that a deeper understanding of nature could produce what looked very much like a miracle. What else was one to think of a contrivance that would carry people into the sky?

If human beings could break the age-old chains of gravity, what other restraints might they cast off? The invention of the balloon seemed perfectly calculated to celebrate the birth of a new nation dedicated, on paper at any rate, to the very idea of freedom for the individual. In the decade to come the balloons and the men and women who flew them came to symbolize the new political winds that were blowing through France. While some might question the utility of the "air globes," flight was already reshaping the way in which men and women regarded themselves and their world.

Of course most citizens of Europe and America were unable to travel to see a balloon. They had their first glimpse of the aerial craft through the medium of single sheet prints. In the late 18th century it was difficult and expensive to publish anything more than the roughest of woodcuts in newspapers or magazines. In an effort to share the excitement with those who could not attend an ascent, to let people know what a balloon looked like, and to introduce the brave men and women who were taking to the sky, artists, engravers and publishers flooded the market with scores of single sheet printed images. Ranging from the meticulously accurate to the wildly fanciful, these printed pictures were sold by the thousands in print shops across Europe.

The business of producing and marketing such images was nothing new. In Europe, block prints from woodcuts had been used to produce book illustrations and single sheet devotional or instructional religious images since the mid-15th century. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, the technique was used to produce multi-sheet maps, bird's eye images of cities, and other products. In the early modern era, etching and engraving techniques enabled artists from Albrecht Dürer to Rembrandt van Rijn the opportunity to market copies of their paintings. .

In the 1730's. William Hogarth inaugurated a new era in the history of English printed pictures when he published his, "Harlot's Progress," a series of single sheet images charting the downfall of a young woman newly arrived in London. Other sets, including "Marriage à la Mode," appeared in the decade that followed. Other artists used the medium of the etching or engraving to reproduce portraits and offer examples of their work for sale.

By the late 18th century, Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and other English artists made considerable fortunes producing sporting prints and satirical images offering biting commentary on the shortcomings of the political and social leaders of the day. Rowlandson was said to have "etched as much copper as would sheathe the British navy." In order to publish his prints and caricatures while they were still newsworthy, Rowlandson worked rapidly. He would water color the first impression, then send it to refugee French artists employed by Rudolph Ackermann, one of his favored publishers, who would color each of the prints before they were hung up in the shop window. In the 1780's a typical print seems to have sold for a shilling, the price being sometimes included on the print itself.

The appearance of the balloon in 1783 provided artists, engravers and publishers in England, France, Germany and Italy a new subject for their efforts. As the wave of balloon enthusiasm swept across the continent, the production and sale of images depicting the great flights and daring aeronauts flourished. In addition to illustrating the birth of the air age, print makers made use of balloon motifs in comic images satirizing political events or social trends.

In the 19th century new lithographic techniques and the advent of improved presses and smooth paper, led to a revolution in the ability to mass produce images. Balloons remained a common subject of interest to readers, and ready material for satire in the talented hands of artists like Honorè-Victorine Daumier.

Today, the balloon prints produced by 18th and 19th century artists remain as a priceless window into the past. They enable us to share some sense of the excitement that gripped those watching their fellow beings rise into the sky for the first time. Engraved portraits tell us something of the appearance, and even the personality, of the first men and women to fly. Satirical prints utilizing balloon motifs help us to understand the impact that flight on the first generations to experience it.

The National Air and Space Museum owes its collection of balloon prints to the generosity of several leading 20th century collectors. The bulk of the prints in our collection come from Harry Frank Guggenheim (August 23, 1890 - January 22, 1971).. The son of industrialist and philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim and his wife Florence, Harry Guggenheim enjoyed multiple careers as a business leader, diplomat, publisher, philanthropist, and sportsman.

Aviation was the thread that tied his diverse activities together. A graduate of Yale and Pembroke College, Cambridge University, he learned to fly before the U.S. entered WW I and served as a Naval aviator during that conflict and as a Naval officer during WW II. In the mid- 1920's, he convinced his father to establish the Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, which had an enormous impact on aeronautical engineering and aviation in the U.S.

A collector of everything from fine art to thoroughbred horses, Guggenheim began to acquire aeronautica during the 1920's, gradually focusing his attention of aeronautical prints. His collection had grown to be one of the most complete in the world by the 1940's, when he loaned his prints to the New York museum maintained by the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences. When the IAS dissolved its museum in the 1950's, Guggenheim donated his own collection to the National Air and Space Museum.

The NASM collection of aeronautical prints also includes items donated by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and by a number of other private collectors, notably Constance Fiske in memory of her husband Gardiner Fiske, who served with the U.S. Army Air Service during WW I and with the USAAF in WWII; Thomas Knowles, a long-time executive with Goodyear Aircraft and Goodyear Aerospace; and Bella Clara Landauer, one of the great American collectors of aeronautica.

There can be little doubt that William Armistead Moale Burden was one of the most significant contributors to the NASM collection of furnishings, ceramics and other objects related to ballooning and the early history of flight. . Burden began collecting aeronautical literature and memorabilia during the 1920's, while still a Harvard undergraduate. Following graduation he rode the post-Lindbergh boom to prosperity as a financial analyst specializing in aviation securities. His business success was inextricably bound to his enthusiasm for the past, present and future of flight.

By 1939, Burden was reputed to have built a personal aeronautical library second only to that of the Library of Congress. He loaned that collection to the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, an organization that he served as president in 1949. In addition to his library of aeronautica, Burden built a world-class collection of historic objects dating to the late 18th century - desks, chairs, bureaus, sofas, mirrors, clocks, ceramics and other examples of material culture -- inspired by the first balloons and featuring balloon motifs. After a period on display in the IAS museum, William A.M. Burden's balloon-decorated furnishings and aeronautica went into insured off-site storage in 1959. A member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, Mr. Burden ultimately donated his treasures to the NASM, as well.

Thanks to the efforts of these and other donors, the NASM can share one of the world's finest collections of works of art and examples of material culture inspired b y the birth of flight with our visitors. We are pleased to extend the reach of our collections to those who visit our web site. Welcome, and enjoy.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

Female figure with child

National Museum of African Art
Seated female figure with lobed coiffure, scarification marks on face and neck, elongated cylindrical torso and sandaled feet resting on a foot stool. She holds a nursing child on her left knee. The child is carved with articulated arms and is adorned with a strand of beads, joined with a metal ring, that is suspended around the neck. The darkened coloration of the figures stands in marked contrast to the light brown wood of the ornately carved high-back chair that is embellished with incised linear and circular patterns and with wood protuberances that are attached to the sides and slats of the chair with metal nails.

Crest mask

National Museum of African Art
Cast copper alloy cone shaped mask with a human face, crocodiles issuing from the nostrils and snakes descending from the top projection. A relief of mud fish is scattered on the lower portion of the head and the mask is inlaid with iron in the eyes and in two vertical bars on the forehead. The rim of the neck opening is edged with a herringbone braid.

Man riding a buffalo

National Museum of African Art
Wood male figure with a four peak headdress riding a horned animal, probably a buffalo, on a domed base with straight sides. Red pigment adorns the rider's face with the rest of the sculpture in a dark color with blue pigment showing in patches. Two brass tacks are set vertically on the center of the forehead to the bridge of the nose.

Female figure

National Museum of African Art
Wood standing female figure with arms at sides and finely carved hands on her carved abdomen, two braid hairstyle with incised linear patterns, elliptical eyes below arched brows with diagonal incisions and raised scarification marks between temples, on both cheeks, neck, stomach and from lower abdomen to back on both sides. High breasts, well-rounded buttocks, and flexed legs lead to minimally carved feet on a circular base. Added beads are strung as a necklace, waist beads and anklets.

Divination basket

National Museum of African Art
Lidded basket complete with contents used in divination practices. The lid itself has 5 pieces of animal skin with fur placed and hung around the rim. In addition the remains of 2 black-shelled turtles are also attached with the cord to the rim. The basket has black and white and red and white turtle shell remains with an animal horn in between them, all attached by cord underneath on the basket's rim. The basket contains 154 objects which include: 1) one small bundle of spear or arrow shafts (10) and one larger bundle of the same (24); 2) various pieces of skin/hide; 3) pieces of calabash, including one large, half globular container with compacted materials; 4) packets of medicine including one in the shape of a bow tie; 5) various small rocks and pebbles; 6) seed pods, including vegetable remains, such as maize; 7) weapons and tools including facsimiles of an adze, a pick axe, a spade shaped implement; 8) animal remains including a lizard's head, animal horns, monkey, chicken and cock claws, bird beaks, feathers, insect casings, various other bones, quills and feathers and wooden figures of dogs; 9) wooden figures of humans in rawhide beds, two tethered slaves, a copulating couple, a figure described as a male ancestor and a figure wearing a chikunza mask.

1) one small bundle of spear or arrow shafts (10) and one larger bundle of the same (24); 2) various pieces of skin/hide; 3) pieces of calabash, including one large, half globular container with compacted materials; 4) packets of medicine including one in the shape of a bow tie; 5) various small rocks and pebbles; 6) seed pods, including vegetable remains, such as maize; 7) weapons and tools including facsimiles of an adze, a pick axe, a spade shaped implement; 8) animal remains including a lizard's head, animal horns, monkey, chicken and cock claws, bird beaks, feathers, insect casings, various other bones, quills and feathers and wooden figures of dogs; 9) wooden figures of humans in rawhide beds, two tethered slaves, a copulating couple, a figure described as a male ancestor and a figure wearing a chikunza mask.

Male figure

National Museum of African Art
Standing male figure atop a cylindrical base, arms at side, with hands on the stomach next to the cavity. A horn is inserted into the top of the head, the proper left eye is a cowrie shell and the proper right eye is an iron cone. Metal sheets are attached on the center of the forehead, and the sides of the head by the eyes.

Double figure

National Museum of African Art
Two female figures, different sizes, seated back to back on a concave, rectangular stool. The stool has four lozenge-shaped legs on its base and the figures are joined at the shoulders and back as one piece. The neck and head areas are separate.

Amherst, Massachusetts

Smithsonian Magazine

Population: 34,049 in 2006
Percentage of retirees: Around 6.63% in 2006
Cost of living index: Above average
Public libraries: 3
Public transportation: Pioneer Valley Transit Authority provides bus service through 24 communities. Includes door-to-door van service to seniors over 60. Amtrak rail service available at Amherst station.
Access to airports: Closest airport is Westover Metropolitan Airport (served by low-cost carrier Skybus), about 15 minutes away. Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT, is the closest major airport, about 1 hour from Amherst. Major international service is available through Boston Logan International, about 90 minutes away.
Tax breaks: in Massachusetts, Social Security, civil service, state/local government pensions are exempt. Pension income from other state or local governments that do not tax pension income from Massachusetts public employees is exempt from Massachusetts taxable income.
Number of museums: 4
Number of cinemas: 1
Cultural Highlights: Strong museum and performance arts through five colleges in the area.
Access to Healthcare: Fair, with several hospitals nearby.
Climate: Pleasant summer and fall, with muddy springs and cold winters.
Annual precipitation: 45.57 inches
Nearby Attractions: Springfield, limitless charming hill towns, lakes, and Quabbin Reservoir less than an hour's drive, Jacob's Pillow Dance and Tanglewood roughly 1.5 hours (summer festivals).
Useful links:
Amherst homepage
Massachusets gov page
City data page
In the Know: "I moved to Amherst in 1979 after a year of studying in Finland. I discovered a remarkable concentration of weavers as well as nationally recognized artists and craftspeople who made the valley a special and inspiring place to live, many of whom were making a living being artists. Everyone was so helpful and interested in helping Amherst grow and retain its allure while retaining its character. I never intended to stay this long, but the spirit of the people, the place and the arts keep me here."
-Susan Loring-Wells, founding executive director of Amherst's Fiber Art Center

Image by Copyright 2005, Marc N. Belanger. Amherst occupies an ancient lake bed virtually in the middle of the Massachusett’s fertile Connecticut River Valley. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of University of Massachusetts. The University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center hosts acclaimed performing arts groups and houses a visual arts gallery. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of The Emily Dickinson Museum. The Homestead, Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachusetts. With The Evergreens, built by Emily’s father for her brother and his wife, the two houses comprise The Emily Dickinson Museum. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of The Emily Dickinson Museum. The Evergreens, built by Emily Dickinson's father for her brother and his wife. (original image)

This little city near the Berkshire foothills is a college town par excellence. Within the city limits are three august institutions-Amherst College, Hampshire College and the much larger University of Massachusetts. They're part of the "five colleges" consortium, the other two being Smith College, in nearby Northampton, and Mount Holyoke, to the south in South Hadley. A parade of cultural offerings, both traditional and experimental, is ongoing.

Founded in 1759, Amherst occupies an ancient lake bed in the middle of Massachusetts' fertile Connecticut River Valley. Time has not tarnished the city's smalltown connectedness, and the downtown itself is still centered on a traditional New England town common, with shops, cafés and restaurants lining the streets around it. Amherst College's Mead Art Museum has fine offerings. While UMass's 10,000-seat Mullins Center is a venue for sports events and pop concerts, the Fine Arts Center hosts internally acclaimed performing arts groups and houses a visual arts gallery.

Downtown, you'll also find the preserved, 19th-century home of the beloved poet Emily Dickinson. Readings and other literary events are held there.

Lovely old neighborhoods are within walking distance of downtown, and Hampshire College south of town is now developing a 'green' condominium community where residents can also participate in educational offerings from the five colleges.

Throughout the area, endless trails loop around lakes and through the dense New England woodlands. The nearby Connecticut River and various streams feeding into it offer fishing and boating opportunities.

Just on the other side of the Connecticut River, Northampton holds its own charms, with a dynamic downtown, more lovely old neighborhoods, and the stunning setting of Smith College, with its excellent Museum of Art and plenty of performing arts offerings.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to Hampshire College as Baird College and misstated the location of Mt. Holyoke College. It is in South Hadley, Massachusetts. We regret the errors.

Mexico - Landmarks & Points of Interest

Smithsonian Magazine

In Mexico you will find some of the finest architecture on Earth. Fascinating cathedrals, basilicas, palaces, churches and even haciendas exude the splendor of a bygone age and are every bit as beautiful as those found in Europe. In fact many of the towns and cities that the Spanish conquistadors built in the 16th century look like they could have been transported directly form Spain. The first cities followed a design mapped out by Spanish King Charles V: a rectangular shape with a main square in the center where the church would be located. The square, then as today, is the social center of the city, framed by tree lined walkways. Streets were laid out in a grid pattern and civil buildings such as the government palace, tax office and courthouse were centrally located, gardens and plazas added to the beauty of the landscape and decorated the mansions of the emerging merchant class, who built elaborate homes as they prospered.

The first of the religious orders to venture into New Spain, as this Spanish colony was called, were the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Augustinians. They erected a chain of impressive European-style monasteries, convents and churches as they moved into each new region of the country.

The quest of the conquistadors was mainly focused on precious metals, and when Hernan Cortes received gifts of silver and gold from Aztec Emperor Moctezuma, the country’s fate changed overnight. The discovery of silver mines caused a surge in the country’s development. Enormous veins of silver in the central highlands in Guanajuato at one time produced the world’s largest output of metal, greatly bolstering the coffers of the Spanish King. The men who profited from silver trade built fabulous baroque churches in Taxco, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas, adorned with beautiful gold leaf altars. Morelia, in the state of Michoacan, often considered an aristocrat among colonial cities with its 200 colonial monuments, is Mexico at its provincial best with wide boulevards, unique architecture and the center of colonial crafts villages created by the monks.

Trade flourished and immigration grew. Guadalajara, the grand dame of western cities, started out as an outpost along the Camino Real. Now its gardens, wide plazas and distinguished buildings include landmarks like the old Cabanas Orphanage, which has been transformed by the fiery murals by native son, Jose Clemente Orozco. Queretaro, with its lovely aqueduct and government plaza, was famous for playing a decisive role in Mexico’s independence. Durango, a pleasant northern city, is for many the most impressive town on the Tropic of Cancer representing the best of baroque or Porfirian architecture.

By the 19th century, wealth was being generated in the Yucatan Peninsula from the production of sisal fiber used to make rope. Riding on the wave of lucrative exports to all parts of the world, owners of the plantations began building magnificent estate houses or haciendas, richly decorated with European furnishing. Another boom was also underway with the production of chicle, or gum, a sap gleaned from the Yucatan’s chicle trees used in making chewing gum.

Mexico’s colonial period, a fusion of Spanish and indigenous artistic techniques adds layers of complexity to Mexico’s heritage. Then there’s Veracruz City, which has the air of a Cuban city. San Cristobal de las Casas, Oaxaca City and Merida, once important centers of learning are seats of modern –day indigenous cultures. Colonial cities are virtual living museums, monuments to a gracious period of viceroys. The cobblestone streets, elegant quarry-stone buildings and flowered plazas invite travelers to share in their history. Many of them have been designated World Heritage Sites by the Untied Nations.

World Heritage Sites

Mexico accepted the World Heritage Convention in February 1984 and has registered 27 sites to-date, thus becoming the country with the most World Heritage Sites in the Americas, and ranks 7th worldwide. Here is a list of sites in Mexico that have been registered to the World Heritage List:

Ancient Pre-Hispanic Sites
Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque (1987)
Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (1987)
Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza (1988)
El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City (1992)
Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco (1993)
Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal (1996)
Archeological Site of Paquimé, Casas Grandes (1998)
Archaeological Monuments Site of Xochicalco (1999)
Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche (2002)

Colonial Sites
Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco (1987)
Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán (1987)
Historic Centre of Puebla (1987)
Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines (1988)
Historic Centre of Morelia (1991)
Historic Centre of Zacatecas (1993)
Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl (1994)
Historic Monuments Site of Querétaro (1996)
Historic Monuments Site of Tlacotalpan (1998)
Historic Fortified Town of Campeche (1999)
Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro (2003)

Nature Sites
Sian Ka'an  Biosphere
Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino (1993)
Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (2005)
Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila (2006)

Artistic/Cultural Sites
Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara (1997)
Luis Barragán House and Studio (2004)
Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (2007)

1856 - 1857 Virginia Ivey's Russellville Fair Quilt

National Museum of American History
Virginia Ivey designed this white-work quilt to capture the excitement and lively interest of a county fairground in the mid-nineteenth century. The center circle, 40 inches in diameter, is edged by a board fence complete with gate. Inside the fence is the quilted inscription: "1856 A REPRESENTATION OF THE FAIR GROUND NEAR RUSSELLVILLE KENTUCKY." The central judges' pavilion with the judges, encircled by horses and riders, fair buildings and workers, animals of all sorts, and of course the fairgoers themselves, all in a state of arrested motion, contribute to the unique design.

Virginia Ivey's needlework and artistic skills resulted in a quilt that depicts the smallest details of fence rail, walking stick and saddle, or men shaking hands in greeting. The surface outline was quilted using two layers of fine white cotton with a thin cotton fiber filling, stitched through all three layers. The sculpted effect of the design was achieved with stuffed and corded quilting techniques and grounded with stippling, 12 stitches to the inch. The quilt is finished with a 4½-inch woven and knotted cotton fringe. Her needlework is often described as using needle and thread much like another artist might use pen or brush.

Virginia Mason Ivey was born on October 26, 1828 in Tennessee. She was the daughter of Mourning Mason and Capt. David Ivey, a farmer and soldier in the War of 1812. According to family information her father named her after his native state. When Virginia was a young child the family moved to Keysburg, a small town in Logan County, Kentucky. Aunt Jennie, as she was known to the family, according to her niece Ida B. Lewis, "never had any lessons in art-just-her own talent and creative instinct. She loved beauty in many forms and had a most attractive personality and was quite a pretty woman." Virginia Ivey never married and when she died she left this quilt to her niece, Lillian Virginia Lewis.

"I have a quilt which I value most highly. It was made by my aunt, Virginia M. Ivey. I cannot care for it much longer and I should like very much to know that it will have excellent care and that it will give pleasure to many people who will appreciate its remarkable workmanship and its great beauty". So wrote Lillian V. Lewis about the quilt she donated to the Museum in 1949. Now over 150 years old, this elaborate example of white-work quilting, "A REPRESENTATION OF THE FAIR GROUND NEAR RUSSELLVILLE KENTUCKY 1856," has been exhibited at fairs and museums and has won many prizes.

Oral history interview with L. Brent Kington, 2001 May 3-4

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 95 pages.

An interview of L. Brent Kington conducted 2001 May 3-4, by Mary Douglas, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Kington's home and studio, Makando, Illinois.

Kington describes his childhood and the impact of the Depression; his adopted sister Kay; and his hyperactivity and difficulty accomplishing schoolwork. He comments on his high school teachers; his academic and athletic accomplishments at University of Kansas (UK); his studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art with Richard (Dick) Thomas "the intellectual silversmith" and his "mentor"; Hugh Acton and the GM Tech Center; and fellow metalsmiths Fred Fenster, Mike Jerry, Stanley Lechtzin, and Heikki Seppä.

He discusses exhibitions including "Kansas Designer Craftsmen," "Michigan Designer Craftsmen," "Fiber, Clay, Metal," "Creative Casting, Young Americans 1962," and "Objects: USA." He talks about Ashanti gold weights; Scandinavian design; teaching at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois (SIU) and Illinois State University (ISU), and taking students to the Saint Louis Art Museum to see granulation in Mycenaean gold. He comments at length on his toys and experimenting with ideas about toys.

Kington also describes blacksmithing workshops held at SIU and the "renaissance" of blacksmithing in the United States. He recalls his involvement with the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), American Craft Council (ACC), World Crafts Council (WCC), Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America (ABANA), the Kentucky School of Craft, the National Ornamental Metal Museum, and other organizations. He discusses his weathervane pieces and other series such as Icarus, Crozier, Europa, and Axis Mundi. He comments on the influence of Mircea Eliade's book "The Forge and the Crucible" (1979), considers the blacksmith's role in various cultural mythologies, and evaluates publications such as "Anvil's Ring" and "American Blacksmith."

He comments on the current state of affairs in metalsmithing; his retirement from SIU and teaching in the University of Georgia-Cortona program; the impact of Cyril Stanley Smith's insights and the importance of his book "A History of Metallography" (1960); his appreciation of Daryl Meier's work; exploring new techniques such as mokume gane, kuromido, shibuichi, rokusho (patination process); encouraging Mary Lee Hu to pursue wire structuring; and his enthusiasm for sharing information. He recalls John Allgood, Philip Baldwin, Robert Ebendorf, Phil Fike, Maija Grotell, Marvin Jensen, Richard Mawdsley, Lee Nordness, Ron Pearson, Bob Peterson,Gene and Hiroko Pijanowski, Jim Wallace, and others.

Female figure with child

National Museum of African Art
Female figure seated with crossed legs on a plinth nursing a child at her left breast while the child holds the woman's right breast with its left hand, its body straddled acros her lap. The woman wears a traditional Yombe cap of royalty; the child wears a similar cap but undecorated. The socle is octagonal and the circumference is studded with metal tacks.
1873-1896 of 1,924 Resources