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Tales From the Archives: The Museum’s Roving Library

The Library's expansive third-floor windows provide beautiful views of the Museum's Great Hall

The Library's expansive third-floor windows provide beautiful views of the Museum's Great Hall, Dining Bridge, and Upper Pond.

The Library’s expansive third-floor windows provide beautiful views of the Museum’s Great Hall, Dining Bridge, and Upper Pond.

As the Cataloger/Archivist in the library, I’ve been working on the Institutional Archives for the Museum, which has been an enjoyable task.  The archives include administrative, organizational, and financial records. Many parts of Institutional Archives are restricted to internal use of the organization because they pertain to fiscal and confidential matters. (Some museums have their Finding Aids listed, but the content is limited or restricted.) Since I was not here during the first years of the Museum, it has been interesting to learn the history of its inception from the first communication between Moshe and Alice in 2004.

In going through several hundred blueprints to arrange and describe for the Institutional Archives, I found that the Library was not always planned to be on the third floor. (What a great view for visitors we almost missed out on here!) In fact, the Library was originally planned to be on the first floor where the Temporary Exhibition Gallery is now.  In talking with Ken Robinson, Facilities Engineer, I learned that the kitchen was also planned to be on the first floor next door to the Library, overlooking the Upper Pond and The Great Hall.  I found it interesting how preservation issues would play out. The planners considered that having a gourmet kitchen in this location could potentially invite rodents and other pests into close proximity of the library filled with valuable books and other paper materials—all of which that could be damaged or destroyed by these pests should they invade.

Understanding how this would not be in the best interest of the Museum, and in order to have a place to host temporary exhibitions, Robinson flew to meet Moshe Safdie Architects in Boston in September 2009 to assist in implementing revisions to the architectural and mechanical plans for the building.  The Building 8 “restack” (that includes Gallery 8 and the third-floor Library) caused considerable challenges for the architectural and construction teams.  First, the architectural plans were revised to relocate the library and a few offices, then the mechanical plans (this includes the HVAC systems, lighting, security, and IT systems) were also revised with Safdie and his team. Working with Ken has been a student-like experience for me as he has been part of the Museum project from the beginning and is extremely knowledgeable about its fascinating architectural and construction history.

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes Archive stories!

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