In addition to images of works of art, the Met's digital archive also documents the Museum's buildings, inside and outside, as they've expanded and changed over time to accommodate works of art and visitors. A veritable treasure trove of visual history, these images offer clues to familiar museum experiences: a child's rebellious stance; a visitor's self-consciousness at being caught on film; managing an oversized coat. Everyday details such as sagging socks or a hat grasped by the chinstrap make the images so real, and so riveting. The Digital Asset Management group has put together a few slideshows of these images based on common themes and events, which we'll share here in a series of posts.
Furnishing Popular Instruction
In 1912, the Museum was visited by more schoolchildren and their teachers than ever before (Museum Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 9, Sep., 1913). One teacher, Miss Conolly, transplanted from Missouri, urged all New York City school teachers to make the most of the Museum. Then, as now, an integral part of the Museum's mission was to encourage and develop "the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction."
Based on what Miss Conolly was teaching her class of forty-two girls and boys, a Museum docent helped prepare an itinerary for their visit. "Because the museum had only one Constable, the docent advised Ruysdael [sic] for the second artist. There are three Corots and three Ruysdaels [sic] in the galleries . . . which suited our rough classification well enough."
Today, the Museum's collection includes seven works by John Constable, ninety-six by Camille Corot, and twenty-four by Jacob van Ruisdael.