One of the great pleasures of working at the Brooklyn Museum is having access to research collections that run the gamut from antiquity to contemporary art. Among these collections are many rare books and archives assembled by the Museum’s founding curators who built the encyclopedic collections that we care for today.
Stewart Culin, the Museum’s founding Curator of Ethnology, was responsible for bringing thousands of art objects into the Museum collection ranging from Native American, Asian, African and Eastern European cultures. Culin’s library and research files document his collecting in the field, his reasoning about what he collected and what he did not collect, and the people and places he encountered in his travels. His interests were very diverse, including the study of games. We recently looked at what Culin had assembled on games and found text and images that we developed into a PowerPoint presentation for the year-long thematic exhibition entitled Play at Proteus Gowanus, a Brooklyn gallery.
I went to the opening of the Play exhibition on Friday, September 14th and am delighted to report that the exhibition is well worth seeing! Lots of great books and objects that magically speak to the issue of play on both historical and contemporary fronts. This is the second time we have contributed material to Proteus Gowanus– the first time was for their exhibition on Libraries – in our efforts to increase awareness of the rich resources held here in the Libraries and Archives. With that in mind we are planning a program which will take place here within the next few months on games and the notion of play. The program will be held in the Brooklyn Museum Library where we will be looking at and discussing many items in the Libraries and Archives. We will keep you posted – there is more to be said about Mr. Culin!
Here are a few images from our contribution to the exhibition to give you a sense of the type of materials on view in the Libraries and Archives.
Deirdre Lawrence has been the Principal Librarian at the Brooklyn Museum since late 1983. Before coming to the Brooklyn Museum, she was Associate Librarian at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She received her M. L. S. from Pratt Institute in 1979 and has studied art history on the graduate level. At the Brooklyn Museum she has established the Museum Archives and implemented many projects to preserve and make accessible the research collections. Deirdre has overseen a major renovation project, implementation of an online catalog and several collaborative projects with other libraries. She has written articles on the collections and lectured frequently on the research collections held in the Libraries and Archives as well as Brooklyn Museum history. Deirdre has curated several exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum and elsewhere. She is a visiting professor at Pratt’s School of Information and Library Science and serves as a board member at the Center for Book Arts in New York.