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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Silly Summer at the Freer|Sackler Archives

Today, I thought I’d draw your attention to some of the silly things that you can find in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Some people may think of archives as dry and boring, full of boring, old, irrelevant papers, and not much else. But this is quite far from the truth! If you spend enough time in the archives, not only do you slowly grow pale and wan, but you also find a number of amusing items. Read on for some laughs. 

Myron S. Falk Jr, ca. 1932

The above photographs are from the Pauline B. and Myron S. Falk Jr. papers.  Myron S. Falk Jr. graduated from Massachusetts Tech and began work in 1932 with the New Photomaton Corporation of Eastman Kodak Company as a sales manager of photo booth machines.  This particular folder of his life contains sketched advertisements, correspondence relaying his marketing and management ideas, and my favorite – his test pictures from the Photomaton machine.  I have attached just one of several contact sheets that have his image in various poses ranging from stoic to absurd.  Take a look and have a giggle as you remember your first job. Below I’ve included some pop-culture references that immediately came to my mind; please feel free to send your own observations to me as I would be happy to receive them.
“It’s the photo booth man from the movie Amelie!”

“Check out Myron’s fierce Tyra Banks look.”

“Now you hate the camera!”

“Was Myron considering one of these for his Facebook profile pic?”
C.L. Freer at his villa on Capri, ca. 1900 - 1903
While we remember Charles Lang Freer as our museum’s austere founder, he managed to balance his work with some play. This photo shows Freer at his villa on Capri. Joining a cult? Doing yoga? Performance art? Simply hamming it up for the camera? We may never know. 

Try not to envy Freer too much for the fact that not only did he own a villa on Capri, but he also had enough leisure time to dress up, create and put on a laurel wreath, and then photograph himself while doing so.

Who do you think Freer sent this to?

This photograph is part of the Charles Lang Freer papers, Series 12 Photographs, currently being digitized to be made available online soon!

And last but not least, art was not Freer’s only hobby -- he was also quite the skilled animal trainer! Oh, the things you learn in an archives. Please note the drawing caption: "I found myself in the unique position of caddy." For some odd reason, I have a feeling that that wasn't the least of Freer's worries!

Have a fantastic rest of your summer!

--Rachael Cristine Woody and Beatrice Kelly,
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives

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