Blogging from the Archive

[Image: “William Notman & Son, Building encased in ice after a fire, 65-83 Little St. James Street, Montreal” (1888); courtesy of the Canadian Centre for Architecture].

Archives, libraries and museums are dusting off their collections and giving them public exposure through the use of well crafted blogs. As blogger Geoff Manaugh put it on his own site, BLDBLOG, these posts work “Somewhere between front-line archival reportage, historical research, and what we might call popular outreach.”

There are some great design blogs – for instance, the Canadian Centre for Architecture hosts visiting researchers, such as Manaugh, to ‘live on their website’ so that visitors to CCA online encounter new perspectives on their digital collection. The School of Visual Arts in NY has a blog called Container List that offers lively descriptions of items in their Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives. The Netherland’s Graphic Design museum in Breda has its own blog here.

The British Library has no fewer than 18 blogs allowing archivists, librarians and scholars to report regularly on their collections, from maps, to medieval manuscripts, to modern theater.

The Internet Archive’s blog dives into their crowd-source trove of videos, photography, and books. Images for the Future in the Netherlands maintains a series of regular research reports. The U.S.’s Smithsonian museums hosts a few blogging platforms, where scholars, archivists, and artists write about their Archives of American Art collection; The Bigger Picture provides insights on their photography collection, and Face to Face posts researchers’ and historians’ insights on individuals featured in their portrait gallery.

These in-depth commentaries aren’t just another way to encounter content in massive digital repositories. They also enrich objects by adding an editorialized layer of comment and anecdotes, creating a public for items that we might never have noticed otherwise.

*Thanks to A Bit Late for some of these links.