“Topping off” in Suitland
Twenty students and two instructors from the Catholic University of America‘s (CUA) School of Library and Information Museum Libraries Institute were hosted by the Smithsonian's two libraries in Suitland, Md. on July 27th. The tour lasted from 10:00am to 4:00pm. A similar tour has been hosted in past years, to rave reviews.
The tour began at the Museum Support Center (MSC) and its library. MSC librarian Gil Taylor outlined where the tour was to take place in the vast building, and explained how the library serves its users from varied disciplines. Then, Lisa Palmer, museum specialist from the Fishes Division, guided the group through a fascinating visit through the newish Pod 5 and its huge “wet” collections. Of special interest to the class was how numerous specimen jars are routinely “topped off” and the revealing of a prehistoric-looking coelacanth specimen.
Next, the class was escorted through the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) by MCI technical information specialist, Ann N’Gadi. A number of MCI labs and their complex instrumentation were shown, and senior paintings conservator Jia-sun Tsang took time to explain and demonstrate the intricacies of some specific paintings conservation problems and analyses.
After the tour group finished their tour at the MSC, the group walked over to the National Museum Of the American Indian Cultural Resource Center (NMAI/CRC) where everyone ate their box lunch in the James Bond Room. NMAI Librarian Lynne Altstatt (who had also attended the MSC tour) then proceeded to give the group a tour of the NMAI/CRC and the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library at the National Museum of the American Indian. Lynne talked about the native influences on the architecture and landscape for the NMAI/CRC and explained that the building is a state of the art collections depository and research facility. During the tour of the NMAI Library, Lynne explained how the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation through federal legislation became the National Museum of the American Indian. She also talked about how the NMAI Library fits into the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Everyone on the tour received a packet of handouts which included the NMAI Collection Development policy, the NMAI Library handout, and other Libraries informational sheets/brochures. The day ended with a presentation from Michael Pahn, Media Archivist, who explained the structure of the NMAI Archives and the services it provides.
Instructor Sally Stokes informed us that it was a the trip to the facilities " . . . was an experience of a lifetime for the entire group.”
—Gil Taylor and Lynne Altstatt
Images (Photographs by Gil Taylor):
Top: CUA Museum Libraries Institute visit to MSC, July 2010
Bottom: NMAI Librarian Lynne Altstatt gets into research
More photos of the MSC tour.