Boing Boing 

Apollo mission treasures from Neil Armstrong's attic

Spocko sez, "After Neil Armstrong's death his widow, Carol, discovered a white, cloth bag in a closet, containing flight and space related artifacts."

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Alan Turing's lost notes discovered as crumpled insulation in Bletchley Park huts


After the war ended, Churchill ordered all of Bletchley's work -- the computers, the notebooks -- destroyed, but some of Alan Turing's notes were discovered between the walls of Hut 6 during a recent renovation, and are now on display at Bletchley Park.

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Museums and the future history of the information age

Last spring, I gave the keynote address at the Museums and the Web conference in Florence, Italy, speaking in the glorious confines of the big room at the Palazzo Vecchio; the organizers were kind enough to put my talk online. It was very well-received at the time and lots of people have since asked where they could get it -- and here it is!

$100K life-size T-Rex skeleton replica


It's 40' long from nose to tail, is composed of 190 bones, is billed as "museum grade" and comes with an assembly crew that will stage it in any "anatomically possible" pose. His name is Stan.

UK cultural institutions leave their WWI cases empty to protest insane copyright


They want the term of copyright changed to life plus 70 years, instead of 2039 for unpublished works of uncertain date, a standard that makes it impossible to reproduce or display things like letters home from the front.

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Human skull lyre


19th century, with antelope horn, skin, gut, hair; plucked from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sadly, not on view at present. (via Kelly the Mortal Girl)

Perot Science Museum missing tiny climate exhibit (but there's lots about fracking!)


The $185M Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas has a lot of positive info on the wonders of fracking, but a tiny panel explaining climate change in the original plans never made it into the joint. In fact, none of the exhibits at the Perot mention climate change -- not the display on water, not the display on weather, and certainly not the display on the miracle of shale gas.

The hall where the climate change panel was meant to hang was endowed by American oil baron Trevor Rees-Jones and bears his name. A natural gas exec on the museum's board says that climate is "too complex and fast-changing to tackle in a permanent exhibit." And the Perot is not alone: as the Dallas Morning News points out, science museums all over the USA wrestle with how to present the overwhelming scientific consensus on issues like climate and evolution.

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Dream Cars: the lost wonders of the automotive age


Dream Cars, an exhibition at Atlanta's High Museum, features the most amazing, doomed, gorgeous automotive designs of the automotive age. Streamlined or blobby, three-wheeled or magnificently finned, these are the cars that leapt off the cover of popular science pulps and into the showrooms, where they died an obscure death. The museum's site has some beautiful photos and curatorial notes on each of the cars in the exhibition, which runs to Sept 7.

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Harvard Bluebook: more threats to those who would cite the law

Carl Malamud writes, "On May 16, Boing Boing brought us the story of five years of intimidation on the Uniform System of Citaiton required in the United States, a system otherwise known as The Bluebook. Based on your story, a stern keep off the grass warning was dispatched from the ever-growing Bluebook Legal Task Force at the eminent white shoe firm of Ropes & Gray."

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Met releases 400,000 hi-rez scans for free download, claims copyright over the public domain


Robbo sez, "The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released almost 400,000 visual works in an online searchable database. The images are high rez (10 megapixels) and free to download. Thank you Met!"

Well, yeah, except the terms and conditions pretend that the Met can tell you how you're allowed to use public domain art (!). Lucky for the Met that such conditions are null and void, otherwise they wouldn't be able to scan and share these images in the first place. Sheesh! Remember, faithful reproductions of works in the public domain do not attract new copyrights, as a matter of well-settled US law.

Historic "mixfilm" in Detroit this weekend

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "I'm bringing a new archival 'mixfilm' on Detroit's rich history to the beautifully restored, vintage-1927 Detroit Film Theatre this weekend. This is the fourth of my Detroit compilations, and it's packed with new footage (especially home movies shot by Detroiters themselves) that's never before been publicly screened. It's a fully participatory show, meaning that viewers (hopefully you) are invited to identify places, people and events, ask questions, and converse with one another as the film unreels. And it's anything but nostalgic -- rather than lamenting what's gone, it aims to contribute to the ongoing, spirited discussion about Detroit's future, and encourage people to talk with one another."

Events: Detroit Film Theatre — The Detroit Institute of Arts Auxiliary (Thanks, Rick!)

Museums and the free world: keynote from the Museums and the Web conference in Florence


Yesterday, I delivered a keynote address for the 2014 Museums and the Web Conference in Florence, speaking in the audience chamber of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is pretty much the definition of working the big room at the palace. The organizers will be uploading video shortly, but in the meantime, they've been kind enough to post the crib for my talk, which is pretty extensive. The talk was called "GLAM (galleries, museums, archives and libraries) and the Free World":

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Digitized items from the Carl Sagan archive go live on the Library of Congress site


The Library of Congress has acquired The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, and has begun to catalog and digitize the materials in it, posting them to the library's website. The scanned materials include Sagan's personal papers, and are divided into three categories: models of the cosmos throughout history; history of the possibility of life on other worlds; Carl Sagan's life and contributions to science and society."

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Detailed timeline of the Bletchley Park mess

Gareth Halfacree, who has a long history with both the Bletchley Park trust and the National Museum of Computing Trust, has published a detailed timeline of the two institutions, showing how they got into the current (and disgraceful) situation. Halfacree's article includes some very sensible recommendations to both trusts.

UK National Museum of Computing trustees publish damning letter about treatment by Bletchley Park trust


Here's some further detail on yesterday's disturbing news about the Bletchley Park trust's management of the museum -- firing volunteers with decades of service with no notice, evicting collections, and doing everything it can to separate the Bletchley Park exhibits from the National Museum of Computing, which is on the Bletchley site and pays a substantial rent to the trust.

Now the trustees of the National Museum of Computing -- which contains a replica of the Colossus II and the Tunny, early computers that played a key role in Bletchley's wartime history -- have written an open letter detailing their grievances against the Bletchley Trust, which appears to be doing everything it can to marginalise and exclude the National Museum and its exhibits.

I'm a donor to Bletchley and the NMOC, and was a member of the Bletchley Friends until recently. The National Museum of Computing is an important facility that complements Bletchley's own exhibits, and without which, Bletchley is much poorer. The Bletchley Trust's repudiation of the people and institutions that kept the site open and operational, saving it from ruin, is a disgrace. Even worse, of course, was the business of surrendering editorial control of its exhibits to corporate sponsors, but there's something especially contemptible about gratuitous cruelty that goes beyond a mere breach of intellectual integrity.

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Bletchley Park's new management chucks out long-term volunteers

Here's more bad news from historic computing site Bletchley Park, where a new, slick museum is being put together with enormous corporate and state funding. Last month, it was the fact that McAfee had apparently banned any mention of Edward Snowden in a cybersecurity exhibit.

Now there's this heartrending BBC report on how volunteers who've given decades of service to Bletchley have been summarily dismissed because they don't fit in with the new plan. The museum of Churchill memoribilia that shared the Bletchley site has been evicted.

For people like me who've donated over the years, fundraised for it, and joined the Friends of Bletchley, this is really distressing news. I've always dreamt of Bletchley getting enough funding to do the site and its collection justice, but if it comes at the expense of decency and integrity, they may as well have left it as Churchill did -- abandoned and forgotten.

Update: Bletchley Trust has clarified to me that while this volunteer was dismissed from guiding tours because he refused to conduct the tour to the new spec, he still volunteers with the Trust in its educational department.

BBC News Bletchley Park s bitter dispute over its future (via /.)

No More Road Trips? American road-trip movie made with found home-movie footage

Rogue archivist Rick Prelinger writes, "Last year I finished my archival road movie, No More Road Trips? It's a composite road trip made from my archives of over 10,000 home movies, hoping to ask the question: have we come to the end of the open road? You can read about all that online, but I wanted to point to my 'trailer,' which is 798 high-definition images from the film shown at 12 frames per second. I hope it expresses some of my fascination with the American roadscape, especially as it looked during the down-at-the-heels 1930s and optimistic 1950s-1960s."

(Thanks, Rick!)

Bletchley's cybersecurity exhibit will not mention Edward Snowden; McAfee's sponsorship blamed

Bletchley Park's historical exhibit on cybersecurity will not mention Edward Snowden -- possibly the most significant figure in the world of contemporary cybersecurity -- because its corporate sponsor, McAfee, has prohibited them from doing so. A collection of MPs and other government figures have written to Bletchley Park museum to urge them to reconsider. As the Tory MP Dominic Raab says, "Either it's a history exhibition or it's not."

The omission raises disturbing questions about the integrity of Bletchley Park as an independent historical institution, and of the quality of oversight it receives from its board. If the McAfee sponsorship came with the kind of strings attached that prohibited neutral exploration of relevant, even crucial, factual material, it's a sponsorship that never should have been accepted.

I have a letter from the Friends of Bletchley Park on my desk at the office, and I was planning on renewing my membership when I got back from the holidays. This has made me rethink my support of the institution, and now I'm not so sure. I certainly hope that Bletchley reconsiders this decision and upholds its reputation as an institution committed to integrity and education.

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British Library uploads one million public domain images to the net for remix and reuse


The British Library has uploaded one million public domain scans from 17th-19th century books to Flickr! They're embarking on an ambitious programme to crowdsource novel uses and navigation tools for the huge corpus. Already, the manifest of image descriptions is available through Github. This is a remarkable, public spirited, archival project, and the British Library is to be loudly applauded for it!

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Kickstarting turning Walt Disney's birthplace into a museum

Ricky sez, "Two theme park attraction designers have purchased the Chicago home in which Walt Disney and his brother Roy were born and lived until 1906. They have launched a Kickstarter project to fund the restoration of the house that was built by Walt's father Elias in the late 1800s to turn it into an historic landmark and high-tech museum. They are well on their way to their hefty goal of $500,000, aiming to complete the project in 1 year's time." (Thanks, Ricky!)

75% of American silent feature films lost


A September report from the Library of Congress's National Film Preservation Board called The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929 [PDF] paints a dismal picture of the archival record of silent movies. In all, "14% of the 10,919 silent films released by major studios exist in their original 35mm or other format," although some of the missing items are extant in lesser transfers and foreign editions. But in all, "we have lost 75% of the creative record from the era that brought American movies to the pinnacle of world cinematic achievement in the 20th century."

It's a sobering reminder of the fragility of even relatively recent media, and the need for preservation. An appreciable slice of the missing archival materials are still in copyright, with attending difficulties in clearing them for the purpose of striking and circulating new prints. As we close in on 2018, the date at which materials from 1928 onward will begin entering the public domain again, this is an important reminder of what can happen if we let the profitability of a tiny slice of commercially viable ancient materials trump the preservation of the vast bulk of cultural materials.

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Museum display of toys confiscated from London schoolchildren


A British teacher and artist named Guy Tarrant has assembled two cases' worth of toys confiscated from London schoolchildren, soliciting them from fellow teachers. The collection represents items from 150 schools and 30 years, and is on display at the excellent Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The Childhood Museum is very close to my home, and it's one of my favourite London museums -- I like it better, even, than its enormous parent institution, the V&A down in South Kensington.

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Spy-gadget photos from Berlin's Stasi museum

Egor Egorov visited Berlin's Stasi Museum and extensively photographed its collection of spy-gadgets from the Cold War (like the squeeze-bulb-operated jacket-button camera above). They're great photos, and at an impressively high resolution.

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3D printed book of textures and reliefs


Tom sez, "I have been thinking for some time how it would be nice to produce a 3D printed book of textures and reliefs. To publish and distribute all the wonderful architectural patterning and decoration we enjoy here in Chicago and beyond. This is the prototype for that idea. The subject matter for this book is derived from 3D scans made of sculptures and reliefs, found at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The scans were all produced using a regular DSLR camera and a software package called 123D Catch. By taking multiple digital photographs of a subject, the user is able to create a lifelike 3D scan of an object, person or architectural feature."

Tom's book is available as a free, downloadable shapefile on Thingiverse.

Orihon (Accordion Book) (Thanks, Tom)

Mark Dery radio interview about his Boing Boing ebook!

NewImage We just released Boing Boing's first short ebook, Mark Dery's "All The Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters," and the feedback has been terrific. Mr. Dery was just a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" show talking about this subculture that served as a glitter bomb of fashion and attitude and briefly relieved the malaise of the '70s. You can hear the interview here, read a free excerpt to whet your whistle, or take the plunge and buy the ebook for just $2.99 from Amazon.

All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters, by Mark Dery -- Boing Boing's first ebook!

“All the Young Dudes,” glam rock’s rallying cry, turned 40 last year. David Bowie wrote it, but Mott the Hoople owned it: their version was, and will ever remain, glam’s anthem, a hymn of exuberant disenchantment that also happens to be one of rock’s all-time irresistible sing-alongs.

Bowie, glam, and “All the Young Dudes” are inseparable in the public mind, summoning memories of a subculture dismissed as apolitical escapism, a glitter bomb of fashion and attitude that briefly relieved the malaise of the '70s.

Now, cultural critic Mark Dery gives the movement its due in an 8,000-word exploration of glam as rebellion through style, published as a Kindle e-book (and Boing Boing's first published e-book): All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters. As polymorphously perverse as the subculture it explores, “All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters” is equal parts fan letter, visual-culture criticism, queer theory, and true confession.

In bravura style, Dery teases out lines of connection between glam, the socioeconomic backdrop of the '70s, Oscar Wilde as a late-Victorian Ziggy Stardust, the etymology and queer subtext of the slang term “dude,” the associative links between the '20s-style cover of the Mott album on which “Dudes” appeared and the coded homoeroticism of the '20s magazine illustrator J.C. Leyendecker (considered in the context of the 1970s fad for all things 1920s), and Dery’s own memories of growing up glam in '70s San Diego, where coming out as a Bowie fan -- even for straight kids -- was an invitation to bullying.

Glam emboldened kids in America and England to dream of a world beyond suburbia’s oppressive notions of normalcy, Dery argues, a world conjured up in pop songs full of Wildean irony and Aestheticism and jaw-dropping fashion statements to match. More important, glam drew inspiration from feminism and gay liberation to articulate a radical critique of mainstream manhood---a pomosexual vision of masculinity whose promise remains only partly fulfilled, even now.

Buy All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters, by Mark Dery

Read an excerpt

20-foot dinosaur made from balloons


This 20-foot-tall acrocanthosaurus is made out of twisted-together balloons. It was created over four days by Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle's company Airgami for the lobby of the Virgina Museum of Natural History.

airigami (headed by larry moss) has completed a 20-foot long acrocanthosaurus--a dinosaur from the early cretaceous period. this is not the first time the team has built one of the mammoth creatures from their signature medium of balloons, but it is the first occasion in which they have produced and displayed one alongside a cast of an actual skeleton of a prehistoric reptile. finished over the course of four days, the massive inflated beast is installed within the virgina museum of natural history (for as long as it will last).

the core team of marsh gallagher, TJ michael, phil cosmos and dee cosmos who realized the larger than life blow-up sculpture were assisted by many helpers including elementary school students and museum staff.

20-foot dinosaur made from balloons by airigami [Designboom]

Bangalore's brain museum


Dr Shankar’s Brain Museum in Bangalore is shelf upon shelf of largely unlabelled brains in jars, along with various other bits of anatomical pickle (human and otherwise). Andy Deemer took a visit and provides some lovely snapshots.

I’m not sure that I’d call Dr Shankar’s Brain Museum a museum. There were no explanations, no details, no citations or learning. Just six hundred brains in an otherwise empty room.

On reflection, perhaps “Collection” would be a better word. A fantastic collection of diseased and healthy brains, sandwiched between a Brain Bank and the Hospital Canteen.

Two dozen purple slides showed something. Ten or so brains were marked by a shared label: Intracerebral Hemorrhage. Another row was marked Glioma. Arterial Stroke. Schwannoma. Schizophrenia.

Dr Shankar’s Wonderful Collection of Brains and Other Medical Obscura

A disc of wooden cow


The Horniman museum in London has this German wood-turned disc from which individual toy cows may be sliced in its Handling Collection. For some reason, I never imagined that this is where wooden animals came from, but it's an awfully clever way to make them.

toy animal (via Neatorama)

Absurd licensing terms imposed on public domain works by libraries and museums

Dee sez, "Keneth Cerws' published studies take copyfight to libraries and museums where restrictive - often absurd - copyright claims and licensing terms are forced on those requesting images of art works and scans of books and documents where the original work long ago entered the public domain, often decades or centuries ago. This raises relevent questions about fair use, academic and research use and how we treat copyright for new images and renderings, often digital images, of old works that many consider vital pieces our common human history, heritage and cultural commons."

Museums face steady demand for images of artworks from their collections, and they typically provide a service of making and delivering high-resolution images of art. The images are often intellectually essential for scholarly study and teaching, and they are sometimes economically valuable for production of the coffee mugs and note cards sold in museum shops and elsewhere. Though the law is unclear regarding copyright protection afforded to such images, many museum policies and licenses encumber the use of art images with contractual terms and license restrictions often aimed at raising revenue or protecting the integrity of the art. This article explores the extent to which museums have strained the limits of copyright claims and indeed have restructured concepts of ownership and control in ways that curtail the availability and use of art images far beyond anything that may be grounded in the law. This article examines the relevant copyright law applicable to the making and use of reproductions of art images, and it identifies the challenging pressures that museums face as they strive to make policies in the context of law but that also serve the multiple competing interests coming to bear on officials and decision makers inside museums. The article analyzes selected policies from major museums and provides an original construct of forms of “overreaching” that often appear in written standards offered by museums for the use of images. The analysis of policies also demonstrates that museums have choices in the shaping of institutional policies, and that breaking away from familiar policy terms can sometimes better serve institutional and public interests.

Copyright, Museums, and Licensing of Art Images (Thanks, Dee!)