An exhibition in Rotch Library at MIT in Cambridge MA, features prints made from the glass negatives collection of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM) in Morocco. The photographs, which have never been exhibited in the United States, date from roughly 1900 to 1930, a period that saw the city of Tangier undergoing a growth that has been unrivaled until recent decades. Not only is Tangier now seeing a radical transformation due to new construction and infrastructure improvements, but there is also a growing emphasis on historic preservation of the built environment. The exhibition highlights that by juxtaposing the older black and white images against more recent photographs of the places depicted.
Today’s Museum Week challenge asks us to zoom in on a particular item in our collection. Over the past few weeks we have had several visitors with a keen interest in seeing Villa Perdicaris in its old splendor. There was the restoration crew charged with bringing Villa Perdicaris, also known as Villa Aidonia, back to … Read more A new look at the old Villa Perdicaris for #MuseumWeek #ZoomMW
New images have been added to TALIM’s Glass Negatives Collection on Archnet. Currently there are approximately 250 images in the collection, currently representing a selection from five of the eighteen boxes in the full collection. New images are added every week as they are cataloged, and scanning resumes this summer.
By Grecia Álvarez, MLIS, Guest blogger
When we started sifting through our collection to cull our rare books from the regular shelves and put them into their new home in “the cage” we never imagined we would find books dating from 1572, or even a parchment signed by King Philip II of Spain (Philip I of Portugal). In fact, we started out by pulling books dating from 1920 and earlier and soon found that our cage was overflowing, so that we had to cut back to books printed before 1911. Previously, these books were intermingled with our regular collection, which focuses mainly on Morocco, but it was decided that these books required special protection, and thus the cage, a small room with an iron gate, was born. Our rare books cover a breadth of topics, from early accounts of European exploration of the region, to government treatises, geographical studies, books signed by illustrious figures (including a book belonging to former Prime Minister of Spain Antonio Cánovas del Castillo). We even have copies of an 1889 edition of Washington Irving’s The Life of Mahomet and a first edition of Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad.
Section II, “Architectural and Historical Context and Significance” of the of the Historic Structure Report on the American Legation in Tangier, Morocco is now available on Archnet. You can find it by going to the the page for TALIM and selecting the link above the description labeled “Publication.”
This section of the report explains the historical and architectural significance of the structure, beginning with a general diplomatic history of Tangier. It then provides a functional and architectural history of the Legation building, including the modifications to the building, starting when the United States and Morocco first began negotiations, through the acquisition of Legation in 1821, damage to the property during bombardments of Tangier, expansions by the consul in the 1920s, the role of the Legation during World War II, and finally the conversion into a museum in 1975-1976. Finally it ends with an assessment of the current condition of the property. It is illustrated with historic images and plans.
Guest post by Michael A. Toler, Archnet Content Manager, AKDC@MIT
The Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT (AKDC@MIT) has recently made available via Archnet, a first batch of scans from TALIM’s collection of glass negatives dating back to the first decades of the 20th century and depicting various locations in the Mediterranean.
The collection of approximately 2,000 images is believed to be the work of photographer Paul Ruedi, a Spanish resident of the city of Tangier between 1900 to 1930. The collection of slides features more images of Tangier than any other city, but there are also numerous photographs of locations throughout Morocco, as well as sites in Algeria, France, Spain and other parts of the Mediterranean. To read more about the collection, click here.
The decision by AKDC@MIT to host the images on Archnet came out of a meeting that took place
Can’t stop curating?
Well, I do have to stop – we’re getting on the ferry to Spain Friday morning! Friends have joked that I’ll still be at it tomorrow morning, mounting yet more exhibits while my wife waits in the car. Not true; I stopped this afternoon.
At the French Consulate’s 14 Juillet reception after we arrived in 2010, a Moroccan friend introduced me as the “nouveau conservateur” in what people in Tangier only knew then as the “Musée de l’Ancienne Légation Américaine.” I joked that I was no conservative… I was a Democrat!
But the point is that conservateur or curator was the way people thought of this position in this city. I thought that was a bit limiting – how about our research library? Our seminars? The Arabic literacy program? Etc. I also didn’t like that ancienne thing – made it sound like we were closed.
It was the only way I could think of to get the opus of Morocco’s traditional music, recorded in 1959 by Paul Bowles and digitized by TALIM in 2010, into the hands of King Mohammed VI: have a leather presentation case made, embossed with the TALIM logo and dedicated to His Majesty.
US Ambassador to Morocco Dwight Bush now has it, and will present it at an appropriate occasion. Morocco’s musical heritage will have been repatriated after more than fifty years in the vaults of the Library of Congress.
Almost four years to the day, I wrote about my predecessor Thor Kuniholm and his long tenure at the Legation. Next week, it will be my successor, John Davison, who will be coming in after Marie Hélène and I head off to greener pastures.
I was an early and strong supporter of John’s candidacy, among a very competitive field of applicants for this job. He had visited us at the Legation after learning of the job opening, and we were impressed with his enthusiasm, imagination, and his knowledge of Morocco.
“Portuguese Tangier” uses the latest GIS modeling technology and 15th century archives to recreate a vibrant image of the city during its two Portuguese centuries.