The list of selected staff publications may be searched by keyword or author and can be sorted by year.
Surveys the process undertaken to collect museum objects from the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, what was collected, and the rationale behind their selection.
Recounts the origins, fabrication, and varied meanings of Infinity, the sculpture created for the museum in 1967 by Jose de Rivera.
State-by-state entries list and describe industrial tourism sites, industrial museums, and historic factories
throughout the fifty states.
Recounts the author's rehabilitation of the packaging collection at the Landor Museum of Packaging Antiquities in San
Uses the only surviving piano key bleach house to describe and illustrate the stages of manufacture from elephant tusks to finished piano keys, 1800–1950.
Uses two sets of NMAH artifacts (coffins and ritual animal-killing knives) to compare and contrast Orthodox Jewish
approaches toward cleanliness, pain, life, and death.
Compares the manufacturing processes of the Zildjian and Sabian cymbal factories, focusing on a family metallurgical secret dating from the 17th century.
Encapsulates several years of work in the Republic of Guyana studying, repairing, and recording 19th-century tower clocks and bells. Addresses Guyanese perceptions of public timekeeping and time consciousness.
Reviews the history of the British prison treadmill and treadwheel, and explores its uneven introduction into the early American penal system in the 1820s.
Chronicles the rise of the elephant ivory industry from Byzantine craft shops to 20th-century American comb, billiard
ball, and piano key factories.
Examines the rise of early American foot-powered machinery in the woodworking and metalcutting industries, speculating
on the transferability of such innovation to the modern developing world.
A broadside dated Providence, R.I., 1793 shows that Greenwood was giving a lecture on electricity, with demonstrations, that followed a tradition for such lectures already half a century old in America at that time.
The American electrical scientist and inventor Charles G. Page and the Boston maker of didactic electromagnetic instruments Daniel Davis had a close working relationship for several years, beginning apparently in 1838. Davis made, sold, and described in his catalogues Page's inventions, often before Page himself published them in the scientific press, while Page benefited from Davis's mechanical skill and workshop facilities in the construction and testing of his new instruments.
An extensive and rich collection of demonstration apparatus, stage decorations, posters, handbills, and letters, acquired by NMAH, yields a detailed picture of the life and struggles of a minimally educated, but enthusiastic and hard-working, showman who traveled about the rural villages of upstate New York in the 1840s and 1850s, lecturing on electricity, astronomy, and other subjects. The collection and what it reveals about Came is important because very little is known about such rural lecturers and what they told and showed to their audiences.
Before the development and widespread availability of convenient light sources operated by electricity, the sun was the best illuminant for optical experiments that required strong light. To provide a stationary beam of sunlight,
physicists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries invented a number of instruments that used clockwork mechanisms to move a mirror to compensate for the sun's apparent movement. The ingenuity and variety of principles embodied in these "heliostats" reveal how important the problem was considered to be.
Henry constructed in 1830 the strongest electromagnet in the world; the principles he discovered in the process led him on to devise an electric motor. His spectacular magnets launched his scientific career, but in the case of his motor, his reluctance to be involved in non-scientific applications of his discoveries battled in his psyche with his need for credit and recognition, leading to a curious ambivalence.
Instruments that used a spinning coil to generate an electric current by means of the earth's magnetic field, and to measure the angle of "dip" of that field, were developed soon after the discovery of electomagnetic induction, but were used for a variety of purposes and took on a multiplicity of forms. In general, the early ones were didactic and non-quantitative; later came more elaborate designs that could yield precise numerical data for geomagnetic research.
CD recording of works (discussed in Slowik’s accompanying essay) by François Couperin “le Grand,” one of the most important of French baroque composers. The recording features two harpsichords from the Smithsonian collection, one made in 1760 by Benoist Stehlin of Paris, the other a modern copy of an 18th-century harpsichord by Etienne Blanchet made on a commission from the Smithsonian by William Dowd of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
CD recording of three of the thirty-four string quintets of Georges Onslow (called by no less discriminating a critic than Hector Berlioz “our French Beethoven”), played on five Stradivarius instruments from the Smithsonian collection: the Ole Bull and Greffuhle violins, the Axelrod viola, and the Servais and Marylebone cellos. Slowik’s cello colleague is the legendary Dutch cellist, Anner Bylsma, who is joined by his L’Archibudelli colleague, violinist Vera Beths. Slowik’s accompanying essay discusses the three works, paying particular attention to Onslow’s autobiographical Op. 38 quintet, subtitled “The Bullet.”
The first CD recording made on period instruments of the complete trio sonatas of Corelli’s Op. 3. Slowik’s Smithsonian Chamber Players colleagues are violinists Jaap Schroeder and Marilyn McDonald, theorbo player Konrad Junghänel, and organist James Weaver. In the accompanying essay, Slowik discusses Corelli’s widespread influence at the end of the seventeenth century and the history of the Op. 3 sonatas.
CD recording of one half of Schubert’s output for piano trio, performed on period instruments by the Castle Trio. The Trio’s Grammy Award-winning pianist Lambert Orkis uses a copy of an 1824 Graf fortepiano made by Rod Regier, who has subsequently done extensive restoration work on the Smithsonian’s own Graf instrument. Slowik’s accompanying essay discusses the works and the last years of Schubert’s life.
CD recording of Marais’s two suites for two bass viols and continuo. In his accompanying essay, Slowik discusses the suites in general and the fact that the opening of the Tombeau from the G Major suite later served Johanm Sebastian Bach as the model for the chorus which begins the St. Matthew Passion. Slowik’s Smithsonian Chamber Players colleagues on this disk are Jaap ter Linden, viola da gamba, and Konrad Junghänel, theorbo.
CD recording of two major late-19th-century Czech piano trios, played by the Castle Trio on the Smithsonian’s 1892 “Paderewski” Steinway piano and “Marlebone” Stradivarius cello, plus an Andrea Guarneri violin. Slowik’s accompanying essay discusses the works and the performance practice approach taken in preparing the recording.
CD recording featuring famed Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma, with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, performing works of 19th-century Belgian cellist Adrien-François Servais on the very cello Servais used for the bulk of his career, the magnificent 1701 Stradivarius cello, known as the “Servais," from the Smithsonian’s collection. Servais’s career and acquisition of the cello are traced in Slowik’s accompanying essay.
CD recording of three string orchestra works from around the turn of the twentieth century, performed by an ensemble on instruments strung with gut strings and played in a period-appropriate manner. The differences between this historically-informed approach, based in part on the recordings and scores of work of Willem Mengelberg, Mahler’s principle champion from 1904 to 1940 and modern practices, are discussed in Slowik’s accompanying essay. The disk includes brief excerpts from two historical recordings of the Adagietto (one by Mengelberg, one by Bruno Walter), and a reading of Schoenberg’s program notes for Verklärte Nacht read by Richard Hoffmann, the composer’s secretary during the last three years of his life in Los Angeles.