Happy Halloween from the WCS Archives! This vampire bat image was likely taken during a 1934 expedition to Trinidad, where the Bronx Zoo’s first Herpetology Curator Raymond Ditmars and his associate Arthur Greenhall studied the elusive species and brought back specimens for the zoo. WCS Archives Accession 2014.121.
As we get ready to celebrate the close of our Leon Levy Foundation-funded Legacy Digital project, we can take this opportunity to reflect on the work we’ve done and most importantly, the content we’ve transferred from physical storage media dating back to the early 1980s. The contents found on these 1,000 storage media items were, contrary to the image above, a whole lot of something: an assortment of audiovisual documentation, research papers, scientific hard data, meeting minutes, conference proposals and presentations, among other nuggets of insight into WCS’s activities over the past thirty years. Continue reading
The lobster featured on this New York Aquarium postcard from the 1910s weighed in at a whopping 21 lbs and was 38 inches long. WCS Archives Collection 2016. #lobsters #nationallobsterday #aquariumhistory #archives #postcards @nyaquarium
On August 19, 1977, the Bronx Zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit opened to the public. A New York Times review on that date declared that
Wild Asia conveys a feeling of remoteness wrapped in a pervasive and palpable stillness, which is broken only by the occasional snort or shrill of one of its 200 animals and birds of Asian provenance, the delighted gasp of visitors seated in the monorail train that makes a circuit of the region or the muted roar of traffic on the nearby Bronx River Parkway.
For starters, we have been working on capturing the 46 miniDV tapes that were part of the Legacy Digital project’s media selection. You might remember miniDV as the small cassette tape widely used in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Depending on your age, you may have shot your first amateur horror film or skate video on one of these. DV (for Digital Video) is an international standard for consumer digital video created by a consortium of 10 companies, which included Sony, Hitachi, and, Panasonic, amongst others electronics giants. The DV standard uses digital technology to record picture and sound on a high density, metal evaporate tape that is enclosed in a plastic (mini!) cassette. Because miniDV is a tape-based format, it is subject to a similar sort of degradation commonly found on analog videotape, including binder deterioration and mold. In addition, since the tape width is so slim, it is particularly prone to drop-outs, head clog banding, and data loss. To make matters trickier, you’ll need a format-specific camcorder or video tape player/recorder to reformat these tapes.
The advantage of working with highly customizable, open-source tools is the ability to tailor your workflow to the specific needs of your institution or collection. The disadvantage is that you have to customize your workflow, and by that you may find yourself testing configurations in seemingly endless fashion. With so many manually entered steps along the way, a single mismatched configuration can throw pieces of your processing workflow into a tailspin and leave you, hoping, in bouts of desperation, for a one-size-fits-all magical turnkey solution to all digital archival objects for their forever-and-ever-nothing-will-ever-be-lost deep storage.
An interesting feature of the records of former New York Zoological Society (NYZS) President Fairfield Osborn Jr. is his creative output: the numerous speeches, articles, books, and other such works he produced during his tenure as President at the Society, from 1940 to the late 1960s.
Ugo Mochi is not a household name. But his artwork is known and admired by many. Mochi was best known for his animal silhouettes. Created from paper with details to scale, these silhouettes are Mochi’s greatest contribution to art as well as to the study of the natural world. [UgoMochi.com, history section, accessed 2/1/17]
The New York Zoological Society’s (now the Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo was a favorite spot for Mochi. He used Zoo animals when creating his most famous book, Hoofed Mammals of the World (1953). A few years after his death in 1977, Mochi’s daughters donated to the Zoo the 40 original plates used in the Hoofed Mammals book. WCS adapted some of his silhouettes in logos and exhibit graphics.