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Guide to the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences publications and ephemera ARC.138

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Patricia Glowinski and Nicholas Pavlik

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 27, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Last updated by John Zarrillo  , March 2017

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences
Creator: Brooklyn Academy of Music
Creator: Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Creator: Brooklyn Children's Museum
Creator: Brooklyn Museum
Title: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences publications and ephemera
Dates [inclusive]: 1861-1998
Dates [bulk]: 1904-1986
Abstract: The origins of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences extend back to 1823, with the founding of the Brooklyn Apprentices' Library. In 1890, the Institute was renamed the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in reflection of an ambitious new initiative to expand its programming through the development of several divisions devoted to the arts and sciences. Between 1890 and 1911, four new divisions were established, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor in Long Island. In 1936, the Institute absorbed Brooklyn's premier performing arts center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which had been founded in 1859. In the 1970s, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music all became independent entities separate from the Institute. The Institute's name was later officially changed to the Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences publications and ephemera span the period 1877 to 1998, with the bulk of the material dating from 1904 to 1986, and document the activities of the general Institute along with several of its divisions, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Items mainly consist of annual reports and news publications, though additional ephemeral material is included.
Quantity: 5.43 Linear Feet in fourteen manuscript boxes.
Call Phrase: ARC.138
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, "Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn's 19th Century Past: Creation to Consolidation," funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, with additional support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

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Historical Note

The origins of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences extend back to 1823, with the founding of the Brooklyn Apprentices' Library. The Library, located at the corner of Cranberry and Henry Streets in the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights, was established for the education and cultural enrichment of young tradesmen. In 1841, the Library relocated to the building of the Brooklyn Lyceum, an organization devoted to intellectual pursuits in the arts and sciences, at the corner of Washington and Concord Streets. In 1843, the Library and the Lyceum merged to form the Brooklyn Institute, an organization offering a variety of scientific, literary, cultural, and educational programs.

In 1890, the Institute was renamed the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in reflection of an ambitious new initiative to expand its programming through the development of several divisions devoted to the arts and sciences. In accordance with this initiative, four new divisions were established between 1890 and 1911, including the Brooklyn Museum, devoted to the collecting of fine arts and the natural sciences; the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the world's first cultural and educational center devoted entirely to children; the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which functioned as a city park and an institution devoted to the collection and exhibition of plants and trees, as well as the dissemination of botanical knowledge; and the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor in Long Island, devoted to education and research in the biological sciences. Later in 1936, the Institute absorbed Brooklyn's premier performing arts center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), which had been founded in 1859.

To coincide with its organizational expansion, the Institute developed plans for the construction of a grand museum building on Eastern Parkway. The building, designed by the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, was intended to eventually serve as the center for all the Institute's programs and activities. Initial construction took place between 1895 and 1926, with the west wing being opened to the public as part of the Brooklyn Museum as early as 1897. However, the Institute's original plan for a grandiose, all-encompassing building proved to be too ambitious, and the finished building was only one-quarter the size that the Institute had originally intended. Rather than serving as a comprehensive facility for the Institute's myriad activities, the new building instead came to exclusively house the Brooklyn Museum.

In the early 1920s, the Institute transferred the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor to the Long Island Biological Association. With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Institute was compelled to further narrow its focus. The Brooklyn Museum was refashioned exclusively as an art museum, and its scientific exhibitions were transferred to other institutions. In time, the Institute came to be primarily associated with the Brooklyn Museum, and in the ensuing decades the Institute's other divisions began operating more and more as self-sufficient organizations. In the 1970s, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and BAM all became independent entities separate from the Institute. The Institute's name was later officially changed to the Brooklyn Museum.

Sources:

  1. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. "A Brief History of BBG." Accessed January 4, 2011. http://www.bbg.org/about/history/
  2. Brooklyn Children's Museum. "History." Accessed January 4, 2011. http://www.brooklynkids.org/index.php/whoweare/history
  3. Brooklyn Museum. "About: The Museum's Building." Accessed January 4, 2011. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/about/building.php
  4. Brooklyn Museum. "Initial Construction (1890s-1920s)." Accessed January 4, 2011. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/about/initial_construction.php
  5. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "History." Accessed January 4, 2011. http://www.cshl.edu/About-Us/History/
  6. Lopate, Carol. Education and Culture in Brooklyn: A History of Ten Institutions. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn Educational & Cultural Alliance, c1979.

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Scope and Contents

The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences publications and ephemera span the period 1877 to 1998, with the bulk of the material dating from 1904 to 1986, and document the activities of the general Institute along with several of its divisions, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Items mainly consist of annual reports and news publications, though additional ephemeral material is included.

Items pertaining to the Institute on a general level include a 1917 copy of the Institute's regular bulletin, two copies of the annual report for the 1965 to 1966 year, monthly news bulletins spanning the period 1943 to 1947, and copies of the Institute's monthly magazine for the period 1949 to 1953. The annual report includes summary reports from the directors of each of the Institute's divisions, the treasurer's report, financial statements, lists of donors and contributors, and lists of the Institute's senior staff members, as well as lists of members of the Institute's board of trustees and various committees. The bulletins and magazines contain various articles relevant to the arts and sciences on a local, national, and international level, as well as information on various performances, exhibitions, lectures, and other events being presented by the Institute at its various divisions.

Items pertaining to the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Children's Museum include annual reports dating from 1904 to 1986, and news bulletins dating from 1905 to 1959. Annual reports contain extensive summary information on the museums, including lists of boards, trustees, officers, committees, and staff; departmental reports; financial statements; and lists of donors and members. Bulletins contain schedules of events, descriptions of featured collections and programs, and information on exhibitions and new acquisitions. Annual reports from 1904 to 1946, and bulletins from 1905 to 1913, consolidate information on both institutions, while remaining reports and bulletins pertain to each museum as a singular organization. The Brooklyn Museum is further represented in the collection by a 1967 handbook/catalog, several press releases from 1969 to 1974, exhibition programs and invitations from 1953 and 1960, event calendars from 1974, programs for fundrasing events from 1963 to 1973, and a 1975 foldout catalog for the Brooklyn Museum Art School. The Children's Museum is further represented by a program for the Museum's planetarium, circa 1955.

Items pertaining to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden span the years 1910 to 1998 and consist primarily of three publications: Plants and Gardens,  Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, and  Leaflets. Issues of  Plants and Gardens date from the period 1945 to 1958 and contain news on the activities of the Garden, as well as horticultural information and updates on botanical research conducted over the years by Garden staff, often accompanied by photographs and images. Issues of  Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record span the period 1912 to 1945 and contain annual reports; reports from the Director, Curator of Plants, Librarian, and Secretary; membership lists; and general news and information relating to the Garden, botany, or horticulture. Other issues of the  Record focus on specific themes or topics such as public education at the Garden, books on botany, or one plant species (such as lilacs). Issues of  Leaflets span the years 1913 to 1942 and contain informational reports and status updates pertaining to the Garden and its plants, as well as educational lessons on botany, aimed at the novice, and to be used by teachers.

Additional materials on the Garden include financial reports and membership lists for the years 1952 to 1953 and 1961 to 1975; annual reports dating from the 1950s; and various publications, such as a report on botanical research conducted at the Garden from 1910 to 1927, and programs for public education courses offered at the Garden. Finally, there is one folder of miscellaneous publications pertaining to the Garden and the general environs of Prospect Park dating from 1982 to 1998. Materials in the folder include event calendars, event invitations, public education bulletins, exhibition programs, and seasonal map guides to Prospect Park.

Items pertaining to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) span the period 1877 to 1991 and document BAM's activities during its time as an independent performing arts center from 1877 to 1936, as a division of the Brooklyn Institute from 1936 to 1971, and again as an independent institution from 1971 onward. Materials include copies of BAM's monthly magazine, monthly news bulletins, seasonal and series programs, performance and event programs, yearly schedules of events, invitations and tickets for a variety of performances and events, press releases, newsletters from BAM to its members, and membership renewals. While a significant number of performing arts companies, orchestras, and festivals are represented by these items, a few are particularly prominent, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra (BAM's resident orchestra), BAM's well-known Next Wave Festival, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which performed several concert series at BAM throughout the 20th century.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Admission tickets
  • Annual reports
  • Bulletins
  • Calendars
  • Catalogs
  • Donor lists
  • Handbooks
  • Invitations
  • Magazines (periodicals)
  • Membership cards
  • Membership lists
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Printed ephemera
  • Programs (documents)
  • Publications

Subject Organizations

  • Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music. Next Wave Festival
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum
  • Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Brooklyn Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra

Subject Topics

  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Botanical gardens -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Botany -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Botany -x Research -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Centers for the performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children's museums -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gardening for children
  • Museums -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts festivals -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sciences -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Intellectual life
  • Prospect Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Prospect Park (New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences publications and ephemera, ARC.138, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Materials

Related archival collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society:

Missing Title

  1. ARC.011, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences records, 1843-1979

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Portions of this collection were the gift of Elizabeth Feldhusen, 1990, and Lewis W. Francis, Jr., date unknown. Some material was formerly the property of the Kings County Historical Society. The July 1915 issue of The Brooklyn Museum Quarterly was the gift of Ellyse Berg, 2017. The sources and dates of acquisition for the remaining items in the collection are unknown.

Processing Information

Minimally processed to the collection level by Patricia Glowinski and Nicholas Pavlik, January 2011. Box-level description added to the finding aid by John Zarrillo, December 2015. July 1915 issue of The Brooklyn Museum Quarterly added to the collection by John Zarrillo, February 2017. Additional material added to the collection by John Zarrillo, March 2017.

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Container List

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 1 Brooklyn Academy of Music
1910s-1980s
Box: 2 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Children's Museum, and other lectures
1877-1992
Box: 3 Brooklyn Museum
1906-1933, 1968-1974
Box: 4 Brooklyn Children's Museum
1905-1954
Box: 5 Brooklyn Museum
1930s-1980s
Box: 6 Brooklyn Museum
1950s-1960s
Box: 7 Brooklyn Children's Museum
1913-1984
Box: 8 Brooklyn Museum
1940s
Box: 9 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1940s-1970s
Box: 10 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1910s-1930s
Box: 11 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1920s
Box: 12 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1910s
Box: 13 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1910s-1998
Box: 14 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1910s-1940s

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