Double Introduction and Visual Research

As discerning blog readers may have noticed, this post was written by a brand-new staff member. Hello! My name is Angela DiVeglia, and I’m PPL’s new Curatorial Assistant.

Now that the personal introduction’s out of the way, let me introduce an awesome new weekly happening in Special Collections: Art//Archives Visual Research Hours.

These open hours will take place Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., beginning this coming Tuesday, April 28th, 2015.

Art//Archives is a time for artists, creative workers, designers, illustrators, printers, curious bibliophiles, and anyone else interested in doing visual research in our vast collections of illustrated books, manuscripts, and periodicals. These weekly hours allow time for creative exploration and special collections browsing time.

Here’s a cool postcard advertising our open research hours:

I can sense your burning question, blog readers: “Why?”

First, our collection is a fantastic and free resource for local artists and designers. We’re fortunate to be located across the street from AS220, and within vigorous spitting distance of other great arts organizations, galleries, printshops, and graphic design firms, not to mention the Rhode Island School of Design. Being situated in a city that bills itself as The Creative Capital naturally means working closely with the arts community.

Second, we know that methods of visual research often differ significantly from methods of informational research. People often come to Special Collections hoping to unearth a highly specific piece of information—say, a letter mentioning a long-ago ancestor, or a sample lunch menu from a whaling ship—while visual researchers often want to browse a broad sampling of materials in search of the surprising, the inspirational, the beautiful, or the fascinatingly strange. Serendipitous encounters generally don’t happen in collections with closed, non-browsable stacks, but we want to make that kind of discovery-based experience possible.

Third, we want to create a comfortable setting for people who may not have done much, if any, archival or historical research before. Visiting Special Collections shouldn’t feel daunting; we want to foster a time and space when one can drop in, sans appointment, to explore some of our materials. Think of it as a once-weekly, enormously extensive visual encyclopedia.

To sweeten the deal, each week we’ll pull a selection of interesting illustrated books pertaining to a loose theme. We’re also happy to pull other books related to people’s specific interests.

Now I sense your next burning question: “How can I attend the Art//Archives Visual Research Hours?”

All you have to do is come to Special Collections on a Tuesday between 10:30 and 1:00. You don’t need a scholarly recommendation; you don’t need proof of citizenship, membership, or any other type of –ship. All you need is yourself, clean hands, an ID (to register on your first visit), and a sketchbook/ camera/ laptop if you want to take notes or photos. Then you’re free to hang out in our reading room with amazing old books (and amazing fellow artists).

Hope to see you on Tuesday! This week’s theme will be ANIMALS.



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