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Katzenberger Projects for 2017 Program CLOSED

Project 1: Frozen in Time: The Arctic Imagination of Frank Wilbur Stokes

National Museum of Natural History/Arctic Studies Center/Anthropology

Frank Wilbur Stokes (1858-1955) was a New York City artist who augmented his studio work by serving as a newspaper and magazine illustrator. In 1893 he had the opportunity to accompany the expedition that Robert Peary led to North Greenland.  The following year he was attached to the Peary Relief expedition spending the winter of 1894-95 at Peary’s Anniversary Lodge in Bowdoin Bay, Inglefield Gulf.  He subsequently participated as an artist-journalist  in Otto Nordenskjold’s Antarctica expedition (1901-1901902) and in Roald Amundsen’s trans-Arctic polar flight in the Norge (1926).  In 1909 he completed a series of murals based on the Smith Sound Eskimos for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) (alas long since covered over).  Stokes was an important (if little known and over-looked) American artist.  He studied under Eakins in Philadelphia at the Beaux-Arts and in Paris prior to his polar exploits.

On his death in 1955 such was Stokes reputation and stature that the contents of his estate were bequeathed to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art (NMAA).  The Stokes accession included several dozen plein air oil sketches of Arctic and Antarctica landscapes, some large finished canvases of polar exploration and a suite of charcoal and ink portraits of Smith Sound Eskimos (the very individuals who accompanied Peary to the North Pole).  Alas, NMAA officials chose to deaccession much of the Stokes collection in 1997 although a portion of the collection was retained and some art work was transferred to the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) and the National Museum of American History (NMAH).  The deaccessioned material was sold at auction in London (I have the catalogs pertaining to these sales.)

In an effort to bring some attention to the life work and accomplishments of Frank Stokes the intern will conduct research on several facets of  Stokes’ biography and on an appreciation and critique of his work (with reference to the prominent role of Arctic exploration in the public imagination of the late-19th century) that would lead, hopefully, to co-authoring a paper for the journal Arctic  (and perhaps additional publications in American Art History journals?).  Anticipated research endeavors would include:

  1. Examination of the accession (and deaccession) records pertaining to Stokes work at the NMAA to assemble biographic details and a history of the Stokes collection at the Smithsonian.
  2. Create a catalog/description of the works of art by Stokes in ( and formerly in) the NMAA, NAA and NMAH. Research on the subject matter of the paintings.
  3. Research the now covered-up Smith Sound Eskimo murals at the AMNH in NY (I have photographs of the murals before they were covered over.) Research archives and records at the AMNH for reference to Stokes and his work. (There may have been an additional Northwest Coast mural, also now covered up, that I have notes about but not much to go on but good colleagues at the AMNH who would help us.)
  4. Research the role of the “expedition artist” as described or referred to in the literature resulting from the expeditions he participated in (Greenland with Peary, Antarctica and the North Pole flight in the Norwegian dirigible Norge).
  5. Briefly research Stokes life and work after his experiences in the North. I believe he was a commercial artist in NYC –the NMAA Accession records and period newspaper accounts should have clues.
  6. Try and identify the existence and whereabouts of additional Stokes art work.

Project 2: National Census of Statues of Philanthropists: Building the Framework

National Museum of American History

Launched in 2015, the National Museum of American History’s Philanthropy Initiative is a long-term project to collect, research, document, and exhibit materials relating to the history of American giving and its impact across a wide spectrum of issues and movements in American history. A changing exhibit, Giving in America, an annual program, and public outreach explore the collaborative power of giving in all forms and at all levels. Annual themes focus on philanthropy’s impact on particular areas of need and are designed to spark conversation, foster new ideas, and help visitors make connections between historic and contemporary giving and each individual’s part in future solutions. The next annual theme is philanthropy’s impact on culture and the arts.

Public outreach is an essential part of the Philanthropy Initiative. The Katzenberger intern will have an opportunity to work closely with museum experts, including the museum’s philanthropy curator, to develop the framework and educational apparatus for public history projects in development. Chief among these is a national public art history documentation project exploring statuary of philanthropists, broadly defined, across the country.

This project will enlist citizen volunteers across the United States to contribute to the creation of a historical record exploring the public memory of American philanthropy.  The intern’s work will be to help establish the processes and infrastructure for this and other related philanthropy public projects as appropriate. Using the Smithsonian’s extensive resources, the intern will research the history of statues of philanthropists, write introductory material, scan and select compelling visuals, and draft the survey that citizen volunteers will use for data collection in their communities; and conduct a sample census in Washington, DC.  Learning objectives include developing research skills in art history and American history; developing writing skills; developing public history education skills; and gaining substantive knowledge of the history of statuary and of American philanthropy.

Project 3: Storied Lives: Research and Online Exhibit

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

The Storied Lives Project, launching in March 2017, is a robust online exhibit that features oral histories, interviews, short segments and performance pieces in both audio and 4K video formats.  The subjects of the features are artists, musicians, craftspeople, translators, writers and others involved in creative endeavor.  The project concentrates on traditional craft, ideas, concepts and methods as they are worked into modern contexts.  Among the other themes primary to the investigation are social justice, immigration and migration, youth culture, women’s rights, belief, politics and bigotry.  The site is designed for both a general and academic audience with preference toward the millennial demographic.  We plan to have 100 subjects represented by the end of four years.  With this in mind, the intern would be responsible for finding and researching the life and art of four individuals, developing a narrative and list of questions with guidance from the media director, then working with the production team to create video interview pieces for each subject for inclusion in the Storied Lives site.  The intern researcher will write a short, dynamic, written piece from their own POV for each subject they interview (for a model, see the Paris Review Author interview series essays.)  The intern researcher will work directly with the media director and intern team members to accomplish these tasks, but it is their POV and fresh, yet informed interpretation that will drive the work.  Examples of subjects featured: Daryl Davis, African American musician and activist, who befriended and persuaded high ranking members of the KKK to leave the organization, Monica Jahan Bose, whose exhibit work and performance art makes use of saris and personal history as a way to illustrate the dearth of education afforded to rural Indian women, Rahim Alhaj, refugee from Iraq and oud master, Ian MacKaye, hardcore punk musician and founder of Dischord Records, Cajun fiddler, and Rhiannon Giddens, performer and activist.  The intern researcher’s work will reach a wide audience, both general and academic.  Many of the individuals on the site are well known, others just on the cusp of discovery.  Over 40 interviews have already been recorded.  At the discretion of the intern researcher, one of the chosen artists may be selected from among the participants of the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  Storied Lives is a full service learning experience.  The intern researcher will walk the entire path from research, through production and short form essay, to exhibit presentation, gaining insights from each phase, making difficult concepts ring clear for their audiences.

Project 4: Modern and Contemporary Art, A to Z

Smithsonian Libraries/Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Collection: The Smithsonian Institution Libraries artists’ files are an exceptional resource for art historical research. Researchers rely on artist files to establish chronologies, flesh out exhibition histories, review stylistic developments, and assess the critical reception of artists over time. These valued and heavily used resources contain items of an ephemeral nature such as small catalogs, brochures, and announcements, many including illustrations. Often these files are the only obtainable sources of critical documentation about well-established artists, as well as lesser known, emerging, and regional artists. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library holds more than 41 file drawers on over 2,000 artists, art institutions, and collectors of modern and contemporary art.

Project: The project consists of evaluating the existing folder content for retention and deaccession; updating the physical housing of the collection to current archival standards; reorganizing and relabeling folder content according to best practices established by the Art Libraries Society of North America’s Artist File Special Interest Group; and reconciling collection holdings in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Art & Artist Files Database. The intern will also develop blog posts to highlight the collection, the content of which could be thematic or focused on one or more artists..

Learning Objectives: The student will gain first hand experience working with primary materials in modern and contemporary art, developing knowledge of artists, stylistic developments, and chronologies in this area of study. The student will also be introduced to library and archival best practices for the physical maintenance and day-to-day processing and arranging of numerous and varied items found in special collections. The production of blog posts will additionally provide an opportunity to research and write about an art topic, work with digital services to digitize library material, investigate and obtain copyright permissions, and publish a completed project on the Smithsonian Libraries web platform.

Project 5: Smithsonian Libraries’ Color exhibition internship

Smithsonian Libraries/Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum branch located in New York City

The Smithsonian Libraries will play an integral role in the planning and development of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s upcoming exhibition, on Color, to open in April 2018. Under the guidance of co-curator and Cooper Hewitt Librarian, Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi, an intern for this project will have the opportunity to learn more about the planning and development involved in a major exhibition involving two Smithsonian units.

He/she will gain experience researching content, managing citations and organizing collection items and images. The intern will have the opportunity to participate in planning meetings, contribute to documentation, and perform in-depth research on the exhibition topic. He/she will also work closely with Smithsonian Libraries’ special collections including the handling of rare books and the creation of object records in the museum’s collections information system, TMS. There will also be opportunities for the intern to write label copy and blog posts for related objects to be featured on digital tables in the museum galleries and on Cooper Hewitt and Smithsonian Libraries websites.

The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to participate in Cooper Hewitt’s customized internship program that includes weekly field trips with fellow interns to New York City cultural and design institutions as well as presentations by various museum departments.

In summary, learning objectives include:

  • Gain an understanding of museum exhibition planning by participating in meetings involving various museum departments including exhibitions, curatorial, registrar’s office, digital and emerging media, and conservation.
  • Perform original research on the interdisciplinary topic of color, as it relates to Smithsonian Libraries’ vast collections, using a variety of primary and secondary print and electronic resources.
  • Create/Enhance collection records for books within the collections information system, TMS, applying library and museum standards.
  • Prepare materials for digitization workflows by evaluating condition/size and packing items for transport with appropriate tracking procedures.
  • Managing citation information for exhibition label copy.

Project 6: Art Students League & Artists Files

Smithsonian Libraries/Smithsonian American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library

The Smithsonian American Art and Portrait Gallery Library recently received a significant collection of ephemera from the Art Students League of New York. The League, which was founded in 1875 and remains one of the most venerable art schools in the country, has been home to hundreds of major American artists as students and teachers, including Thomas Eakins, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock.

The Katzenberger Intern would begin processing the League collection to integrate it with the existing Art & Artist Files collection physically and online, create a finding aid for the material, and discover and recommend highlights in the League material for future promotion, blog posts and exhibition.

The intern will have the opportunity to work with primary source materials related to 19th and 20th century American art, to do research at SI Libraries, use research and writing skills to determine highlights of the files, determine Library of Congress Authorized names using metadata to enhance accessibility, collaborate with different departments within the Libraries (reference, new media), and highlight important art materials that will be valuable to scholars.