Collection Highlights

Lost in the Vertical Files

My name’s Dawson, and over the summer I worked as an intern at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library in DC. I’m currently an Art History and Visual Culture student at Bard College. I applied to the internship last spring with only a little archival experience under my belt, and no idea of how I would live in DC if I even got the position. It was a total leap of faith, and I’m still a little surprised I landed on two feet.

Diving into the Zoological Gardens and Aquariums Ephemera Collection

The Zoological Gardens and Aquariums Ephemera Collection began as an all-call for interesting memorabilia relating to zoos, aquariums, gardens, or the societies that support such institutions. Many items were received, cataloged, and filed in cabinets located in the former library space at the National Zoological Park (Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC). A previous attempt was made to rehouse, organize, and digitize parts of the collection, but the project was left incomplete.

National Library Week: Accessing the Smithsonian Libraries from Anywhere

It’s National Library Week 2020! This year’s theme is “Find your place at the library.” While the Smithsonian Libraries has closed its 21 physical branches during the COVID-19 outbreak, our work continues. We invite you to find a place with us online through our virtual resources, continued services, and digital content. We are here to help you explore and discover from the comfort of your home–and we look forward to welcoming you back in person as soon as we can.

Digital Jigsaw Puzzles

Need a fun mental break? We’ve created six digital jigsaw puzzles through Jigsaw Explorer that feature a few favorite images from our collection. Play them right here on our blog or use the links to expand an individual puzzle. Each puzzle is set to contain about 100 pieces, but they are customizable for any skill set. Hit the question mark icon on a puzzle for more information. We’ve tested these with staff (and kid volunteers!) and hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Lonely Planet in Edo-period Japan: Meisho Zue

The Edo period (1600-1868) in Japan was a time of prolonged peace. Ruling under an isolationist foreign policy (Sakoku) and with no civil wars, the Tokugawa Shogunate government focused on social and political stability, and securing infrastructure. They created and regulated five major roads, boarding houses and transportation systems in order to strengthen central control over the daimyōs (Sankin kōtai — a governmental policy requiring the daimyō to live in their domain for one year and in Edo the alternate year).