9 best behind-the-scenes blog posts of 2014

By Erin Blasco

As we celebrated our 50th anniversary this year, we often gave blog readers a peek behind the scenes. Here are our readers' favorite posts that reveal what it's like to work behind-the-scenes at the Smithsonian.

1. From closet to exhibition: Camilla Gottlieb's purse

Discovered in the back of the closet after grandma passed away: a purse packed to the gills with documents. Camilla Gottlieb had never spoken about her experience surviving the Holocaust, but the purse's documents would help put the story back together. Curators Nancy Davis and William Yeingst worked with Gottlieb's family to bring the purse into the museum's collections. 

Black purse with shoulder strap and clasp

2. Why did a female scientist get left off an exhibition label?

An object related to the discovery of the structure of DNA is on display in our American Stories exhibition. Many visitors tweeted the museum to ask why a female scientist’s name was left off the accompanying label. In this post, a staff member not only answers this question but shares good news: Rosalind Franklin's name is now on the label.

3. Are these John Wilkes Booth's field glasses?

When you work at a history museum, you get used to lots of "maybes," and it's often the m-word that inspires you to deeply research an intriguing pair of field glasses.

4. Spinsters, confirmed bachelors, and LGBTQ collecting

The Smithsonian has been collecting artifacts for over 100 years. Some of those objects relate to the histories of people who we would now identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. But in their time, those words often did not exist. Craving historical clarity, Curator Katherine Ott explores these complicated issues and related objects.

Copies of the Mattachine Review

5. Helping kids fall in love with non-interactive museum exhibitions

Museum insider, mom, and educator Sarah Erdman shares her tips for getting maximum fun out of a hands-off museum.

6. Get money! (Digitized and transcribed, that is)

Most museums can't display more than a small portion of their vast collections. Same here. Our numismatics team is working to put their fascinating objects online—with the help of some new technology and zealous volunteers.

Hillery York sets up a proof sheet for digitization, with lights and photography equipment in area

7. 50 years ago today: Opening a Palace of Progress

You may know it's our 50th birthday this year. But did you know we used to go by a different name and were more focused on the future than the past? Or that President Lyndon Johnson spoke at our opening ceremony?

8. Cannon fire, music, and tweets: Celebrating a star-spangled anniversary

The life of a social media intern during our War of 1812 commemoration: spelling "vexillologist" correctly while avoiding smoke from cannons. And she loved it!

Three staff members and one intern pose for a photo during the Raise It Up program, wearing matching US flag shirts

9. So you want to curate an exhibit about the 1960s

Putting together a display on the early 1960s: groovy but challenging.

Short-sleeved dress with red and white Campbell's soup can labels all over it

Erin Blasco is an education specialist who manages the museum's blog and social media. Apply for a summer internship with her in the New Media Department.