When a covey of quail is flushed, the birds instinctively take simultaneous flight from cover in an energetic burst, dispersing within seconds. It makes for challenging sport, and from mid-October to mid-March, in what is known as the Southern plantation belt, a tradition plays out, much like it has for over a hundred years. Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama are known for premiere quail shooting. Many of the properties that are still in operation were acquired after the Civil War by industrialists who cultivated habitats for the game birds and popularized the genteel pursuit.

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Ogden Minton Pleissner (American, 1905 – 1983) The Covey Rise, 1960, watercolor on paper, sight size 16 ¾ x 28 inches, Gift of Private Collection, 2018

A recent donation from a private collector to the National Sporting Library & Museum, the watercolor Covey Rise, 1960, by prominent American sporting artist Ogden Minton Pleissner (1905-1983) offers a glimpse into this regional pastime. Two pointers are seen in a classic pose, pointing in the direction of the flushed quail flying toward a pine row, while two guns stand ankle deep in wet grass and take aim in the foreground. To the right, the mule-drawn wagon is equipped with seats for the gentlemen and space for the gun dogs and accouterments; it likely carries an elaborate luncheon to be enjoyed in the field.

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Pleissner painting outside of his cabin. Ogden Pleissner, 196-? / unidentified photographer. Ogden M. Pleissner papers, 1928-1976. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [source: https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/items/detail/ogden-pleissner-8477 ]
Pleissner was an avid sportsman who knew the nuances of upland bird shooting. He took up wingshooting in the 1930s and gained access to sporting camps, preserves, plantations, country estates, and patrons internationally. The artist’s sporting background informed his subject matter, and he became known for his painterly and authentic scenes such as Covey Rise, 1960. A previous owner of the picture, Andre W. Brewster, wrote Pleissner in June 1982:

I have long admired your work and finally purchased this watercolor at the Crossroads in New York a year or two ago. It reminds me much of Oketee [sic]…It would be most appreciated if you would write me of the place, time and circumstances of your painting of this particular watercolor.

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Letter from Andre W. Brewster to Mr. Ogden Pleissner, June 7, 1982, NSLM Curatorial files

The Okeetee Club, a game preserve to which Brewster referred, was started in 1894 by a group of New Yorkers who banded together to purchase 50,000 acres in South Carolina to establish the quail club. It featured a rice field that was reminiscent of the one depicted by Pleissner. The artist responded a few days later:

The watercolor that you have was painted several years ago at Talassee [sic] Plantation in Albany Georgia. I’m sorry it is not on Oketee [sic], but as the quail country all through the south is very similar it could very well have been there. I hope this will not spoil your enjoyment of the painting.

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Letter from Ogden M. Pleissner to Mr. Andre W. Brewster, June 11, 1982, NSLM Curatorial files

It is exciting when an artwork is accompanied by materials that shed such a personal light on a composition.  The recent addition of the watercolor and letters to NSLM’s collections is significant, not only as a representative work by Pleissner, but as a subject that is greatly underrepresented in the art collection. Depicting a classic aspect of sporting life that is still pursued today, Covey Rise, 1960, is now on view in the Museum. Stop by and see it in person! Plan Your Visit


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Claudia Pfeiffer has been the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art at the National Sporting Library & Museum since the position was underwritten by the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation in 2012. Her primary focus is the research, design, interpretation, writing, and installation of exhibitions. E-mail Claudia at cpfeiffer@nationalsporting.org

The F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room at NSLM houses our rare collections. These collections include more than just books: manuscripts, typescripts, letters, panoramas, and other ephemera are housed there. Over the past 18 months, we have been working hard on reprocessing the collections in Rare Books. This project was brought to completion recently. We’ve certainly made a lot of progress!

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A “before” photo from the Rare Book Room. Many collections in the room were disorganized, incorrectly stored, or in need of assessment for condition.
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An “after” photo of the same shelf with books reprocessed.
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Every volume in the Rare Book Room was cataloged, assessed for condition, and had barcode tickets inserted. The entire space was reorganized to match the organizational structure in Library’s Main Reading Room.

In addition to working on the rare contents of the room, the room itself received some major care.

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Cases against the walls were re-anchored and straightened.
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A new section of shelving for folios was built at the back of the room.
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The room was repainted sage green, and vinyl lettering was installed.

All told, the project included months of reprocessing, the installation of new storage units, and general maintenance which was due for the space. The Library staff is moving on to other collections maintenance projects: cataloging the contents of the Library Vertical File, as well as loose photographs and ephemera that have gone uncataloged to this point. After that, the Library’s periodicals collection will be cataloged, completing the ability of researchers to find any materials from any Library collection.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

This last spring, I was accepted into the Attingham Trust’s The Horse and the Country House course: “This intensive, ten-day study programme, will examine the country house as a setting for outdoor pursuits, such as hunting and racing, and as a focus for horse-drawn travel.” Looking back after returning from the two-week program in England at the end of September, this verbiage was an understatement. It was not only the most intensive, but the most immersive and well-planned course I have ever taken. It also afforded me the privilege of meeting a group of amazing and knowledgeable people, and it is a trip that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Days were filled to the brim with private tours at different venues, lectures, engaging conversation with approximately thirty international course participants, and more (delicious) food than is advisable. (I ate far more “bangers and mash” with onion gravy than I care to admit.) We began our whirlwind tour in Newmarket, the mecca of British horseracing, staying at the historic Jockey Club founded in the mid-18th century.

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Nighttime view of the Hyperion sculpture by John Skeaping (English, 1901-1980) in front of the Jockey Club, High Street.
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The Jockey Club rooms

Visits to the National Heritage Center for Horseracing and Sporting Art with Director Christopher Garibaldi who was also a course participant and planner, to The Gallops training ground, and to trainer’s yards highlighted over three centuries of tradition in breeding, racing, and art. The museum, for example, has on display a painting by John Wootton, Queen Anne and her Entourage on Warren Hill Newmarket, c. 1707 – 1713. The exaggerated slope of the composition in no way diminished the impact of standing in the grass watching horses and jockeys train on that very same hill over three-hundred years later.

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John Wootton (British, c. 1682-1764), Queen Anne and Her Entourage on Warren Hill, Newmarket, c.1707-1713, Private Collection loan to National Heritage Center for Horseracing and Sporting Art, Newmarket
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Warren Hill canter at The Gallops training ground, Newmarket

The Munnings Art Museum in Dedham in England, location of the former home of famed sporting artist Sir Alfred Munnings and his wife Violet, was another highlight. We were invited for a private viewing of Castle House with 150 works displayed chronologically, Munnings’ studio, the archives, and a tented reception. Director Jenny Hand and staff made us imagine that we were honored guests of the Munnings.

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Paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings of Violet Munnings on view at Castle House, the Munnings Art Museum in Dedham

At Euston Hall and Pleasure Grounds, we were again made to feel like cherished guests during the intimate visit. The 6,200-acre property was inspiring, emphasizing the past of the English country house while serving as a sustainable model for the present and future. The 12th Duke and Duchess of Grafton undertook the painstaking conservation and restoration of the grounds and house beginning in 2012. The Duke spoke with pride of reestablishing waterways designed in centuries past and the regional breeds being kept by the family – the Red Poll cattle, Suffolk sheep, and the Suffolk Punch, now a very rare heavy horse breed. In the timelessly-restored interior, the Duchess expanded on their magnificent art collection and the rich, multi-generational history that the works represent.

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The Duke of Grafton discusses the widening of the River Blackbourn in recent years to the original width in the designs by William Kent in 1731.
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A Suffolk Punch bred by Lady Euston, mother of the current Duke, and a groom

At Bolsover Castle, we were treated to a private reenactment of manège (the ancestor of modern dressage) riding and training in the historic riding house, bringing static 16th– and 17th-century book illustrations to life. The much smaller area ably navigated by the Spanish horse breeds was also a striking contrast to the showing the day before of para-equestrian dressage rider Charlotte Cundall at the Bishop Burton College arena.

Para-equestrian dressage rider Charlotte Cundall with BamBam at the Bishop Burton College

During the discussion after the manège demonstration, Dominic Sewell was asked how he trained his horses. He answered that the “excellent translation of Frederico Grisone’s Gli Ordini de Cavalcare by Elizabeth Tobey” with practical descriptions was instrumental in deciphering the antiquated techniques. It gave me chills. Tobey was the National Sporting Library & Museum’s first John H. Daniels Fellow in 2007. Her research of the Library’s 1550 first edition Grisone – the first manual on manège riding – and others led to her translated and annotated version published in 2014 along with translator Federica Deigan. To see her work in practice was awe-inspiring.

Participants of the 2018 Attingham Trust Programme, The Horse and the Country House, at Hovingham Hall, photo © Alexandra Lotz (www.horses-and-heritage.net)

These are just some of the moments over the past two weeks that reminded me again and again why I fell in love with country life and its devotees, art, traditions, culture so long ago. I am humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to be enriched by such diverse and inspiring participants and presenters who all generously shared their unique perspectives on the horse and the country house.


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Claudia Pfeiffer has been the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art at the National Sporting Library & Museum since the position was underwritten by the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation in 2012. Her primary focus is the research, design, interpretation, writing, and installation of exhibitions. E-mail Claudia at cpfeiffer@nationalsporting.org

In June, NSLM won an award! We won the Business Equine-Related Custom Publication (Print) category of the Equine Media Awards for the exhibition catalog for The Horse in Ancient Greek Art. The catalog, which features scholarly essays and beautiful images from the exhibition, is available for purchase through NSLM’s online gift shop. The exhibition is still on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but it closes July 8, so take advantage of this last chance to see it!

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NSLM’s 2017 Equine Media Awards winner’s plaque, with certificate for NSLM Curator Nicole Stribling for her efforts on the publication.

The Equine Media Awards are part of the annual conference for American Horse Publications, an organizations dedicated to excellence in equestrian publications. The conference, held each summer, is a great opportunity for networking and idea-sharing. NSLM has been a non-profit member of AHP for years. The Equine Media Awards are the highlight of each conference, with dozens of categories for competition. See the entire award winners list here.

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AHP’s annual conference is a great place to swap ideas and get to know the hard-working folks who produce the equestrian magazines and websites we know and love

On the Library side, we were thrilled to announce that we have received a grant to begin work on one of our long-range goals: digitizing rare books from the NSLM collection. Digitization is a huge avenue toward greater accessibility to the collection and it also reduces wear on titles in the Library.

Digitization work has already been done in small portions. Several years ago, the Library digitized its microfilm collection. The first book to be digitized was last week, as our neighbors at Paratext dropped by to take images of the Index to Engravings in the Sporting Magazine by Sir Walter Gilbey.

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Paratext Editor Grayson Van Beuren creating digital photos of a rare book in the NSLM Main Reading Room. Paratext is an independent library information and research company based in Middleburg.

The grant will go toward a more comprehensive project that includes the purchase of rare book scanning equipment and the development of an online platform to allow researchers to read the digital books.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail 

Today we will take a break from writing about the Annual Auction and featured Spring exhibition to cast a spotlight on a subject we haven’t discussed in awhile: The Horse in Ancient Greek Art. Yes, it may seem like ancient history by now, but even though the exhibition left Middleburg in January, it continues to engage and inspire viewers across the state and around the globe.

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Attributed to the Sappho Painter, Greek (Attic), Black-Figure White Ground Lekythos, ca. 510 BCE, Terracotta, Private Collection

In fact, the exhibition was just named the 2017 New Tourism Event of the Year by Visit Loudoun. The award goes to organizations that demonstrate exceptional work in bringing cultural and economic value to the area. The Horse in Ancient Greek Art was Loudoun County’s first exhibition of ancient artwork. During its 16 week stay in Middleburg, the exhibition was seen by visitors from 211 different zip codes, including 30 states and 9 foreign countries.

 

For many visitors, this was their first introduction to NSLM, and their first introduction to sporting art. When planning the exhibition, the idea of interpreting ancient artwork in an organization whose oldest artifact dates to 1523 was daunting. However, the comparison between ancient and modern equestrian imagery connected visitors to the artwork in fascinating ways.

 

Though separated by tens of thousands of miles and thousands of years, the people, animals, and places shown on ancient Greek pottery are familiar to anyone visiting hunt country today.

 

The Horse in Ancient Greek Art is now on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Between visitors at NSLM and VMFA, the show has been seen by nearly 75,000 individuals since September! In Richmond, the show is on view near the other ancient art galleries. Understanding Greek pottery within the context of other ancient Mediterranean cultures adds a new layer of interpretation to the exhibition. The Horse in Ancient Greek Art has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and has been called a “must-see” event.

 

Can’t wait to visit? Join NSLM on a special “Site-Seeing” trip to visit Agecroft Hall and The Horse in Ancient Greek Art at VMFA.


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Anne Marie Paquette is the Clarice & Robert H. Smith Educator at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM). Her passion for museum work began shortly after graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in History from James Madison University. Between her expeience working at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center and the Washington Heritage Museums, she has done everything from designing summer camps to formulating major fundraisers. Have a question? Contact Anne Marie by e-mail

Spring has come, along with steeplechasing and flat racing throughout the Virginia Piedmont. The same springtime spirit can be felt across the racing community, and across the world. Few towns are held in as high sporting regard as Newmarket in Suffolk, England. First settled as a market town after the Norman invasion, Newmarket became a hub of horse racing culture in the reign of Charles II (1630 – 1685). Though James I built the first royal residence at Newmarket c. 1610 to pursue sport, it is only with the restoration of the Crown after 1660 that the town grew to become the international center of horse racing, a reputation that it still holds today.

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James Pollard (English, 1792-1867) Newmarket Races, 1909. Engraving from an earlier painting by James Pollard. Copyright Getty Images.

Among the earliest races established at Newmarket is the three-mile Newmarket Town Plate. Charles II founded the race in 1666 with the direction that it should be run in perpetuity. True to this charge, the race has been run for over 350 years. At first there were only two race meets, one in April, the other in October. By 1840 there were seven race meets: The Craven Meeting, the 1st and 2nd Spring Meetings, the July Meeting, the 1st and 2nd October Meetings, and finally the Houghton Meeting. Traditionally the first races of the year took place the week following Easter Sunday. Today the Rowley Mile and the July Course boast races and events every weekend from the Craven Meeting in mid-April to the final meet at the beginning of November.

George Stubbs, English, 1724 - 1806 (Artist); Hyena with a Groom
George Stubbs (English, 1724–1806), Hyaena at Newmarket with One of Jenison Shafto’s Stablelads, ca. 1765–7, oil on canvas, 40 1/8 x 50 1/8 inches, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Paul Mellon Collection (image source: https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/6027262-132161010/)

The long history and distinctive style of Newmarket made it a popular subject for the burgeoning market of sporting artwork in the 18th and 19th centuries, and beyond. Many famous equine portraits are set at the stables in Newmarket, meant to commemorate distinguished careers at the capitol of English racing. This subject allowed artists like George Stubbs (1724-1806) and Benjamin Marshall (1768-1835) to demonstrate their skillful mastery of equine anatomy. Other images of Newmarket show frenetic energy and passion before race meets. This time of year it is easy to imagine oneself pressed in a crowd of spectators as jockeys in brightly colored silks line up for the race.

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Sir Alfred Munnings, P.R.A. (British, 1878–1959), Linin’ ’em Up, Newmarket, ca. 1940–53, oil on panel, 19 ¾ x 23 ½ inches, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Paul Mellon Collection.  (image source: https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/7898216-110496899/)
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Henry Koehler (American, b. 1927), Jockeys Between Races, Newmarket, 2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 in. Gift of the artist, 2012.

Springtime races, whether at Newmarket or in the foothills of Loudoun County, marry the traditions of country life with the perennial newness and passion of changing seasons. The brisk air and thundering hooves can be felt across times as old and new are blended together in our cultural landscapes and in the paintings of sporting artists throughout time.

Not able to make it to Newmarket this spring? You’re in luck! Some of these works and other stunning examples of sporting masterpieces are on view at NSLM both in the permanent collection and in Spring’s feature exhibition, A Sporting Vision: the Paul Mellon Collection of British Sporting Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, opening April 13, 2018.

 

 

 

 

If you are at all familiar with the village of Middleburg, you have likely seen iconic images of the Middleburg Hunt and hound parade in the snow. It just doesn’t feel like the holiday season has begun in this region until Christmas in Middleburg takes place on the first Saturday every December. The celebration brings people from far and wide to enjoy this spectacle as well as the traditional afternoon Christmas parade with brightly-colored floats, a variety of horse-drawn vehicles, and other animals. Even Santa Claus arrives on a four-in-hand.

Although we did not experience a magical snow this past Saturday, there was no shortage of holiday cheer for the festivities. Partnering with the National Sporting Library & Museum, Colonial Williamsburg’s Director of Coach and Livestock Paul Bennett brought and drove the historic city’s Wythe Chariot, a highlight of the parade.

Partnering with the NSLM, Colonial Williamsburg made a special appearance in the Middleburg Christmas Parade on December 2, 2017, with the recently-restored Wythe Chariot driven by Director of Coach and Livestock Paul Bennett.

The royal blue livery brought to mind a wintry, 19th-century French print in the NSLM’s collection…

(after) Henri d’Ainecy, Comte de Montpezat (French, 1817 – 1859), La vie d’un Gentilhomme en toutes Saisons: Hiver (one of a set of four), hand-colored aquatint, 21 ½ x 30 ¾ inches, engraved by Jazet, Paris; published by Goupil et Vibert, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman R. Bobins, 2012

Subtitled Hiver (Winter), the hand-colored aquatint is one of a set of four in the series, La vie d’un Gentilhomme en toutes Saisons (The Life of a Gentleman in All Seasons). First published in 1846, each print depicts a different season of carriage driving in France. The original paintings from which the engravings were made were by Henri Auguste d’ Ainecy, Comte de Montpezat, a French sporting and animal artist.

(after) Henri d’Ainecy, Comte de Montpezat (French, 1817 – 1859) La vie d’un Gentilhomme en toutes Saisons: Hiver (Detail)

The snowy scene shows two postilions, each riding the near post-horse of a double team at a fast pace. (It is typical to ride the left horse of a pair since horses are trained to be mounted from the near side.) The riders are wearing the unmistakable rigid boots of their profession to protect their legs from being injured. Posting was a common mode of transit in England and on the Continent before trains. Postilions were hired through postmasters and traveled from post house to post house, on successive legs of a journey. Tired riders and horses were replaced as needed along the way.

(after) Henri d’Ainecy, Comte de Montpezat (French, 1817 – 1859), La vie d’un Gentilhomme en toutes Saisons: Hiver (Detail)

The carriage depicted is a shooting phaeton, a four-wheel open carriage with room for four passengers, game, and a compartment with ventilation under the seat to transport gun dogs.  Snow flies up from the wheels as the sportsmen return from a successful day afield. The gamekeeper, bundled up in a fur coat with a powder flask at his side, points to a village in the distance. A huntsman and the gentleman holding a shotgun enjoy a cigar while the fourth companion wearing a buttoned-up frock coat and a brimmed cap, crosses his arms, bracing himself against the cold. A gun dog peeks out from the gentleman’s lap blanket while another alert dog is at the front of the carriage. The vehicle is filled with a mixed bag  – a plentiful variety of hare, pheasant, duck, partridge, snipe, and stag – and game bags hang from the back.

Although it’s not a one-horse open sleigh, the scene conjures a line from the classic American melody, Jingle Bells. “Dashing through the snow…”  Carriages, wheeled and sleighs alike, are icons of a long-gone era, but still strongly resonate with the sentiment of the season. Thank you to our friends at Colonial Williamsburg for journeying to Middleburg and “making spirits bright.”

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


pfeifferClaudia Pfeiffer has been the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art at the National Sporting Library & Museum since the position was underwritten by the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation in 2012. Her primary focus is the research, design, interpretation, writing, and installation of exhibitions. E-mail Claudia at cpfeiffer@nationalsporting.org

As the days shorten and holiday lights start glinting in window panes, it is easy to reflect on the events of the past year. Thanksgiving Day urges each of us to consider what we are thankful for; to celebrate our achievements and to show gratitude to those who help us accomplish them. As a nonprofit, NSLM has a great deal to be proud of, and even more to be thankful for.

 

To our Members

Thank you to our 600+ members. Members give each year to support our mission to preserve, promote, and share the literature, art, and culture of equestrian, angling, and field sports. Every now and then a new member will say, “I’m only a $50 member, I don’t help very much”, but the opposite is true. Our Individual and Household members make up the foundation of our membership base, and each membership counts! Our concerts, programs, and events depend on all of our members- Thank You.

 

To our Ambassadors and Volunteers

Though the Ambassador program only began about a year ago, it has grown to include nearly 30 individuals. Our Ambassadors are members who actively recruit in the community. Some pour wine at events, others volunteer in the Library, and still more bring new friends and members to the NSLM every chance they get. Thank you to all of our Ambassadors for your special interest and the passion you spread!

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Volunteer Jeri Coulter welcomes visitors to an Open Late concert, May 2017

To our Partners and Sponsors

It may take a village to raise a child, but it can take a whole town to raise a Museum and Library. Our partners and sponsors – both in and outside of Middleburg- support some of our most successful programs year-round. Sponsors like Middleburg Common Grounds and the Sidesaddle Cafe support educational programs through in-kind donations, while fellow nonprofits like the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Artists in Middleburg collaborate with us for dynamic events. We belong to a tremendous network of supportive and active organizations- Thank you all!

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An Evening with George Morris, sponsored by Beverly Equestrian, September 2017

To Viewers like You

Have you visited the Library or Museum this year? Have you browsed our website or library catalog? Are you reading this blog post? Thank you! Every opportunity to interact with you, the viewer, is an opportunity for us to spread our mission and to tell you more about us. Every Facebook ‘like’, every Yelp review, and every email is appreciated. Keep them coming!

 

 Are you looking for a way to give thanks?

Become a member today, or make a one-time tax deductible gift to NSLM!

Thank You!


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Anne Marie Barnes is the Clarice & Robert H. Smith Educator at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM). Her passion for museum work began shortly after graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in History from James Madison University. Between her expeience working at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center and the Washington Heritage Museums, she has done everything from designing summer camps to formulating major fundraisers. Have a question? Contact Anne Marie by e-mail

 

 

Most Americans are now familiar with the concept of STEM learning, curriculum that carefully focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal is to inspire the next generation to work in STEM-related fields and become the vanguard of science and mathematics. The arts community quickly got involved in this goal by adding an A (for Arts) to the equation. Thus, STEAM was born.

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STEAM brings a multitude of opportunities to classrooms across the country. Working together, science and art instructors might have their students build a bridge or design a diorama. Theater instructors might team up with math instructors to teach lessons about building sets for a play. Many schools and teachers find they were doing STEAM lessons without realizing it!

Beyond the classroom, museums have also stepped up to provide students with cross-disciplinary activities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. NSLM is proud to join this educational revolution and show how sporting art is teeming with hands-on learning opportunities.

For example, did you know that there are math lessons hidden inside the artwork in NSLM’s collections?

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Finding Sea Hero’s proportions. How do artists use proportion?

 

Drawing with ratios- just like Da Vinci!

Not just math, either. It turns out that NSLM’s art collections are also chock-full of science!

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Visiting students use pieces from the permanent collection to learn about ecosystems, biomes, geographic zones, food chains, and even the water cycle!

How many herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores can you find in the paintings below? How many coniferous and deciduous trees? How many different kinds of waterways?

It’s not just sporting art, it’s natural science!

 

 

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John Frederick Herring, Jr. (English, 1815-1907) Eight Farmyard Vignettes oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches. Gift of Mrs. Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008.
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John Bucknell Russell (Scottish, 1820-1893) The Day’s Catch, c. 1865, oil on canvas, 21 1/4 x 29 1/4 inches. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy Greenan, 2011
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Michael Lyne (English, 1912-1989) Frederick M.M. Warburg with Middleburg Hunt at Goose Creek c. 1950, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. Gift of Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008.

Architects and engineers depend on art and design to create cities, roadways, and space shuttles. Artists, musicians, and designers use geometry, physics, mathematics, and technology to create culture as we know it. These topics are all tied very closely together, so it only makes sense that they appear in NSLM’s collections. But don’t take my word for it, come see for yourself!

Do you know an educator, parent, or PTO member who would like to book one of our STEAM-related tours? Contact Anne Marie Barnes, Clarice & Robert H. Smith Educator, at ABarnes@NationalSporting.org (540) 687-6542 x25.


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Anne Marie Barnes is the Educational Programs Manager and Fellowship Advisor at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM). Her passion for museum work began shortly after graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in History from James Madison University. Between her expeience working at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center and the Washington Heritage Museums, she has done everything from designing summer camps to formulating major fundraisers. Have a question? Contact Anne Marie by e-mail

An enduring cultural myth about librarians is that they spend a lot of time reading. While we pretty much all love reading, and books, and research both wide-ranging and obscure, there’s a major reason many of us don’t read as much as we would like: no time. This blog is a blessing because it provides an opportunity to really interact with the collections at NSLM, and we get a chance to read a bit before diving back into our many projects.

What keeps us so busy in the Library? I’m glad you asked! I like to tell people that life in the Library is a lot like a duck: above the water, everything looks placid but under the surface, the feet are kicking fuiously.

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“Mallards,” from Thirteen Drawings by Robert Ball, c. 1950. National Sporting Library & Museum, John H. Daniels Collection. Note: actual Librarians may not fly.

As we head into the holidays, I figured it would be a great time to explain what has filled up our daily work in the Library in 2016.

Collections Projects

In 2016, we welcomed Erica Libhart, the Mars Librarian. Erica is a skilled technical services librarian and has used her background in cataloging and classification to push forward our Main Reading Room reprocessing project.

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The Library’s old filing system made inefficient use of space and posed difficulties in locating materials.

Under Erica’s energetic care, the Main Reading Room is more than 75% reprocessed. This means that all materials are being cataloged, labeled, and made findable on the NSLM online catalog. Findability is a huge deal for us, because if a book doesn’t show up correctly in the catalog, a researcher might miss out on a valuable resource.

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A unique classification system was created for NSLM’s sporting topics, and labels applied to make finding books easy. The Main Reading Room project has required reprocessing of over 6,000 volumes in 2016 and will be complete by Spring of 2017.

Also during this year, we have focused on our Archive Collections. As part of a larger shift to expand shelving and alleviate our shortage of space, we re-structured our archives and moved them to another part of the Library.

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Documents, letters, photographs, and ephemera were re-boxed and updated finding aids generated.
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Custom cabinets were built for the new Archive Room, which will become a silent study room upon completion.
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Over 2,750 containers across 165 boxes were inventoried, re-housed, and moved by hand to the new Archive Room on the Lower Level. 30 backlogged archive collections were processed and added, almost doubling the number of collections accessible at NSLM.

We’re indebted to part-time staff members Emily Perdue, Laura Shearer, and Jessica Festa and to NSLM’s archival interns for their help on the Archives in 2016. All of the new finding aids can be found on the NSLM archives website.

Maintenance Projects

It’s no mean feat to swap out a Library’s roof! As of this writing, our Library is closed for construction.

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We worked very hard to take our beloved Main Reading Room…
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…and completely wrap it up to protect collections from dust and debris generated by the project.
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Artwork, furniture, and trophies from the Main Reading Room take up more than half of the Founders’ Room.


Helping Researchers

People are usually surprised how much our collections are used by researchers. Here are a few of our vital stats from 2016 (as of this writing).

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So far in 2016, the Library has received 2,300 visits from guests and researchers. This figure only counts Library users, not program attendees or Museum visits. The number would be higher if NSLM were not obliged to close for our re-roofing project or due to a blizzard in January.

Although NSLM does not lend materials to take home, we do lend through the interlibrary loan system. We’ve lent 107 times through this system in 2016, which is more impressive when laid out on the map:

We also help with research requests every day. Requests come from e-mail, telephone, and in person.Over 430 research requests have been handled by two librarians this year, in addition to other projects.

Building for the Future

We’re running out of space in the Library. Our rate of donation has increased rapidly in the past few years. This winter we plan to install additional shelving to increase storage capacity by about 12,000 volumes. It’s a temporary measure, but coupled with a new Collection Management Policy, we hope these efforts will keep the collection safely housed for at least another five years before further expansion is required.

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Space on our shelves has slowly dwindled in the past few years. Our newest projects will expand storage capacity significantly.

Our Book Adoption Program has been a tremendous success, and only two books remain to be adopted. We’re also trying to build a prototype repository for our digital collections, and at the same time we’re upgrading our online catalog software.

Most importantly, much of what we do is focused on expanding access to our collections beyond the walls of the Library building. This blog is a large part of that, and it also affords us a rare chance to open the books and explore the collection. Now that winter is upon us, we’ll definitely be spending more time with some great books, magazines, and archival materials to share with you.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail