By Catherine Petersen and Elizabeth Bradshaw
Items in Crystal Bridges’ archives are carefully stored in order to preserve their longevity. The archival materials used adhere to strict rules in order to maintain a pH-balanced environment. Many paper-based storage supplies are not only acid-free, but have had the lignin removed. (Lignin is a natural bonding substance found in plants that helps add strength to the plant structure. While not acidic itself, lignin can give off acid as it breaks down over time.)
Mylar and Melinex are forms of polyester film used to protect materials from the damaging effects of UV rays and foreign pollutants.
Several manuscripts in Crystal Bridges’ archives contain sketches. A couple of examples:
A letter from Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) to the artist Thomas Sully responding to a request from Charles Bird King passed on to him by Sully for “information respecting the interior of the House of Representatives” with two pages of sketches in ink and pencil including a plan “on an accurate scale of 1/8 of an inch to a foot” and details of pillars, curtains etc.
The collection also houses photographs, such as this one from the files of Mount Rushmore sculptor, Gutzon Borglum: a photograph of the sculpting of Mt. Rushmore.
You may view the finding aids for the Crystal Bridges collection of artists’ letters and manuscripts online. To view archival materials in the library please contact [email protected] for an appointment.