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In this lavishly illustrated guide to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick tell the stories behind more than 250 of the museum's treasures, many of them never before photographed for publication. These stories not only reveal what America as a nation has decided to save and why but also speak to changing visions of national identity.
The Smithsonian Institution has been America's museum since 1846. What do its vast collections -- from the ruby slippers to a piece of Plymouth Rock, first ladies' gowns to patchwork quilts, a Model T Ford to a customized Ford LTD low rider -- tell Americans about themselves? In this lavishly illustrated guide to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick tell the stories behind more than 250 of the museum's treasures, many of them never before photographed for publication. These stories not only reveal what America as a nation has decided to save and why but also speak to changing visions of national identity. As the authors demonstrate, views of history change over time, methods of historical investigation evolve and improve, and America's understanding of the past matures. Shifts in focus and attitude lie at the hearth of Legacies, which is organized around four concepts of what a national museum of history can be: a treasure house, a shrine to the famous, a palace of progress, and a mirror of the nation. Thus, the museum collects cherished or precious objects, houses celebrity memorabilia, documents technological advances, and reflects visitors' own lives. Taking examples from science and technology, politics, decorative arts, military history, ethnic heritage, popular culture and everyday life, the authors provide historical context for the work of the Smithsonian and shed new light on what is important, and who is included, in American history. Throughout its history, Lubar and Kendrick conclude, the museum has played a vital role in both shaping and reflecting America's sense of itself as a nation. From the Hardcover edition.
Every stamp and piece of mail tells a story. In fact, each often tells multiple stories, ranging from concept to art design to production to usage, often with tales of politics, history, technology, biography, genealogy, economics, geography, disaster, and triumph. The lens of philately offers a fresh and engaging story of American history, culture, and identity, and it can also help deepen the understanding of world cultures. The William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, opened at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in September 2013, has many such stories to tell. Chief philately curator Cheryl R. Ganz guides readers through some of the gallery's nearly 20,000 objects that together illustrate the history of our nation's postal operations and postage stamps.
This reference work is the definitive source for the terminology, nomenclature, and illustrative diagrams for all known carriage types of the Western world, as well as many of the better known vehicles of other areas.
In 1849 the Smithsonian purchased the Marsh Collection of European engravings. Not only the first collection of any kind to be acquired by the new Institution, it was also the first public print collection in the nation, and it presented an important symbol of cultural authority. The prints formed part of the library of Vermont Congressman George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882), a member of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents. The uncertainty of the Smithsonian's mission in the early years complicated its motivation for purchasing the collection, especially given Marsh’s position as a Regent in financial difficulty. After a serious fire in 1865, portions of the collection were deposited at the Library of Congress and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Efforts to reclaim it began in the 1880s, as a new generation of Smithsonian staff expanded the National Museum, but they achieved only mixed success. Through the story of the Marsh Collection, the book explores the cultural values attributed to prints in the 19th century, including their prominent role in expositions and their influence on visual culture at a time when collecting styles were moving from an individual’s private contemplation of artworks to wider public venues of exposition in museums and reception by multiple audiences. The history of this first Smithsonian collection enlivens an important stage in the development of American cultural identity and in the formation of the Smithsonian as a national institution.
Presents an A-to-Z reference to American folklore with articles on folk heroes, authors, significant historical events, cultural groups, social aspects and more.
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