Tag Archives: Photograph Collection

A closer look at the BMA Archives

Through a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the BMA Archive is working to provide greater access to some of its most heavily-used collections. As part of my work as the Project Archivist on this grant, I’m processing the Archives’ Photographs Collection: more than 150 boxes (43 linear feet, in archivist-speak) of photographic material documenting exhibitions, events, people, and the BMA grounds from 1923 to the present. The collection provides a rich visual overview of the BMA’s history—and the people and works of art that have shaped the institution.

The BMA’s Archives holds some particular gems, but as with many archival collections, more value can be found in the sum of its parts.

Model of the Waterman house parlor of Warren, Rhode Island, circa 1820, American Rooms in Miniature by Mrs. James Ward Thorne exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1943. Exhibitions Photograph Collection, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art.

For example, look at this photograph. At first glance it appears to be a 19th century parlor, or maybe collection of furniture in one of the BMA’s period rooms.

AIC_00044752-02

Model of the West Parlor, Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1743-1799, American Rooms in Miniature by Mrs. James Ward Thorne exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1943. Image courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago (Image No. 00044752-02)

But looking through other photographs from this exhibition, it quickly becomes apparent that something else is going on here. These images show the intricately decorated interiors of American Rooms in Miniature by Mrs. James Ward Thorne shown at the BMA in 1943.

Other photos demonstrate changes in the BMA’s history over time. The Photographs Collection includes images from many of the Maryland Annual Artist exhibitions throughout the 20th century. Even just a quick glance at the images of the exhibition judges provides an interesting look into the changing tastes and interests of the art world.

Xavier Gonzalez, Concetta Scaravaglione and William Calfee, judges for the Fifteen Annual Maryland Artists exhibition, 1947

Xavier Gonzalez, Concetta Scaravaglione and William Calfee, Judges for the Fifteenth Annual Maryland Artists Exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1947. Exhibitions Photograph Collection, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art

Charles Chetham, James Elliott, Richard Tuttle, jurors for the 1970 Maryland Annual exhibition, 1970

Charles Chetham, James Elliott, and Richard Tuttle, Jurors for the 1970 Maryland Annual exhibition, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1970. Exhibitions Photograph Collection, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art

Finding aids for the Photograph Collection, along with the other collections whose processing is generously supported by the NHPRC, are currently being completed. Digital collections and other finding aids can be found on the BMA Archives site.