Thursday, February 03, 2005

Voyages: A Smithsonian Library Exhibition

Just surfaced from a couple of hours perusing the superb Voyages exhibition from the Smithsonian. All descriptions from the Smithsonian site.

From the Earth to the Moon Direct in Ninety-seven Hours and Twenty Minutes, and a Trip around it .
Long before men entered space, writers and artists imagined such expeditions. Jules Verne’s classic science-fiction work on space flight first appeared in English in 1874. His novel remains of interest not only to researchers studying the cultural history of space flight but also to bibliophiles comparing the various editions of Verne’s books.

Altre Scoverte Fatte Nella Luna dal Sigr. Herschel.
This portfolio of hand-tinted lithographs purports to illustrate the "discovery of life on the moon." In 1836, Richard E. Locke, writing for the New York Sun, claimed that the noted British astronomer Sir William Herschel had discovered life on the moon. Flora and fauna included bat-men, moon maidens (with luna-moth wings), moon bison, and other extravagant life forms. Locke proposed an expedition to the moon using a ship supported by hydrogen balloons.

Urformen der kunst (Art forms in nature).
Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932).
Around 1918, Blossfeldt used a microscopic lens to make detailed photographs of plant forms against a stark background. Stripped of their naturalistic quality, the plants appeared to be man-made cast-iron forms. The creation of this book coincided with the birth of the Bauhaus school of design, which emulated machine-like forms and stripped objects of ornamentation that did not contribute to their function. Design schools adopted Blossfeldt's work as a pattern book for natural forms for many decades.

George Ferris' Sky Wheel.
This standard history of the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition was presented as a limited edition to fair officials and sponsors.

Die Maglichkeit der Weltraumfahrt (The feasibility of interplanetary travel).
Ley, a paleontologist, engineer, and theorist on conditions on other planets and space, edited this book of essays written by famous rocket scientists, including Hermann Oberth, Walter Hohmann, and Guido von Pirquet.

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