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Your Portable Museum: Then and Now

Your Portable Museum: Then and Now


Your Portable Museum

Earlier this year, librarian Jessica Shaykett introduced our plan to grow the library's online collection by digitizing the Your Portable Museum Archive. The digitization process is now well under way. Here's a little more background information about the project.

What it was then...

As an audio-visual service of the American Craft Council, Your Portable Museum brought exhibitions and workshops as close to real life as one could get in the 60s, 70s, and 80s without actually having to be there. The 35mm color slide kits, 16mm filmstrips, 35mm motion films, and accompanying literature were available for rent or purchase by ACC members and nonmembers. The rental process seemed arduous considering the length of time needed to schedule out for use, determine alternate dates, and rely on (snail) mail -- not to mention the potential overdue fees! But it's clear that what was important to the research and education department then is still important to the library now: providing "access to the world of arts and crafts."

What it is now...

Our slide collection has grown considerably in the past few decades. Shaykett's conservative estimate is 30,000 slides compared to the mere 4,500 in the 1960s. A number of these slides are that of the Your Portable Museum collection, for which the ACC library received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to digitize. This invaluable resource will be available to all this fall without the intransigent restrictions of the past. If you look closely at the supplementary PDF (1961 Outlook, Vol. 2, No. 5 - from the Newsletter Collection), you'll find several of the early listings for Your Portable Museum, including a nod to the local Walker Art Center.

The American Craft Council Library and Archives Digital Collections is an open-access online compendium containing more than 3,000 unique images, documents, and media detailing the history of contemporary craft in America. From ACC newsletters and photographs to firsthand documentation of major national craft exhibitions, the digital collections offer makers, scholars, and craft appreciators a glimpse at some of the ACC Library's most invaluable resources.