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.


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?

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!



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!



John Frederick Herring, Jr. (English, 1815-1907) Eight Farmyard Vignettes oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches. Gift of Mrs. Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008.
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
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 (540) 687-6542 x25.


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.

“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.

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.

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.

Documents, letters, photographs, and ephemera were re-boxed and updated finding aids generated.
Custom cabinets were built for the new Archive Room, which will become a silent study room upon completion.
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.

We worked very hard to take our beloved Main Reading Room…
…and completely wrap it up to protect collections from dust and debris generated by the project.
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).

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.

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

Most people are unaware of just how unusual the NSLM Library collections are. Most libraries set an acquisition plan and purchase their materials to fill the collection. However, almost everything at NSLM was donated by members of the sporting community, making it a unique communal reflection. We receive thousands of donated books every year, many are rare or antiquarian books.

Sadly, some donated books come to us in a very “well loved” condition. It’s impossible to make these damaged books available to the researchers that visit us. Further, it’s often prohibitively expensive to outright replace the book.

Sporting Almanac, 1839 (B018). Adopt for $150.

This week, we launched our first-ever Book Adoption Program. We’re asking the public for assistance in restoring these books to a safe and usable condition, preserving their contents for future research.

All adoptions will be commemorated with a special plate in the restored book. It’s an excellent way to honor friends and family for the holidays.

I’m excited by the response we’ve had to the program so far. With thousands of research visits every year, it’s critical for us to keep our books in a usable condition. So many of our titles are out of print, and for some of them, their contents are at risk of being lost for good. It’s intimidating (but true) that our donors and members often are all that stand between preservation or loss.

Racing Calendars: 1866-1867 (B017). Adopt for $275.

What goes into book restoration? It all depends on what’s ailing the book. In many cases, our adoptable books are suffering from disintegrating spines, deteriorating paper or leather covers, detached boards, or weak hinges.

Victorian Photo Album, .c 1890 (B003). Adopt for $300.

Each adoption covers the work of a qualified restoration professional to repair the damage.


The Thoroughbred Horse, 1867 (B010). Adopt for $150.

We started with 18 books for adoption, and 13 were adopted in the first two days! The five books pictured in this blog post are still available for adoption.

Ouvres de F. Baucher, 1867 (B013). Adopt for $275.

In the future we’ll have another blog post to cover the restoration work on some of our adopted books. If you are interested in learning more, you can get in touch or view our program catalog.


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 prepared a 2015 annual report for our blog. Some of the items in the report were really surprising! Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you to all our members, readers, and researchers! We’re looking forward to 2016. We wish all of you a happy and safe New Year.

A few months ago, NSLM was approached with an offer we could not refuse: go to Charleston for Garden & Gun‘s Made in the South Jubilee. If you have not yet attended Jubilee, it is an incredible experience to see, hear, taste, and bring home the best of Southern and sporting life. From the Oyster Roast Thursday night to the concert Sunday afternoon, our mission was tell the thousands of visitors about our Museum and Library in Middleburg, Virginia.



the rear view of the Legare Waring House

We were set up in the library of the historic Legare Waring House, just one part of a whole campus of Jubilee event areas at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site. The event saw close to 3,000 people!


We were right at home in the library

Over the course of the weekend we met hundreds of people, and saw several friends of NSLM all the way down in Charleston. In addition to handing information to attendees, we met the governor of South Carolina, some folks from museums across the South, and several businesses we look forward to seeing again soon.

Top: (left) Sea Island Forge,  (right) Foggy Ridge Cider. Bottom:  (left) Rappahannock River Oysters LLC,  (right) Cannonborough Sodas

This opportunity would not have been possible without the help of some key friends. All of our contacts at Garden & Gun were quick to help and very supportive to us newcomers. Our event sponsor, Highcliffe Clothiers, generously lent us some of their pieces to make sure we looked our hunt country best.

At the end of the weekend, we gave out over a thousand pieces of literature to folks at Jubilee, and inspired many to donate to our organization. We are very fortunate to have been included in an event whose attendees care about our mission to preserve and promote equestrian, angling, and turf and field sports. So long Charleston, we hope to see you next year!


If you love foxhunting, horses, fly fishing, books, or art, you probably know who we are. If you love living in the South, country sports and speaking with a refined (or sometimes twangy) accent, you know Garden & Gun  magazine. Thanks to some mutual friends, we at NSLM have been able to share more about ourselves and our community with the kind folks at G&G.

Small-Town Escapes: Middleburg, VA

June/July 2015, Robb Scharetg (center); Alan Goldstein Photography (left and right)

This past summer we were featured in a weekend getaway article about our hometown, Middleburg, VA. Not only does our little town offer hunting, fine dining, and shopping, you can also see some of the best sporting artwork right here in our Museum (and read about its history in our Library!). Our most recent exhibition, Side-by-Side with Gun & Dog was also highlighted this fall. Read the Garden & Gun feature below, or read more about the exhibition on our website.

Two Centuries of Dogs in the Field

A new exhibit in Virginia honors the bond between hunter and dog

Richard Ansdell (Bristish, 1815 - 1885) Highland Tod, Fox Hunter, 1859 oil on canvas 29 x 63 ½ inches Collection of American Kennel Club
Richard Ansdell (Bristish, 1815 – 1885)
Highland Tod, Fox Hunter, 1859
oil on canvas
29 x 63 ½ inches
Collection of American Kennel Club

This December, the National Sporting Library & Museum will make its first ever appearance at G&G‘s Made in the South Jubilee in Charleston in just a few weeks! If you are in the area, come see us every day that weekend. We will have giveaways, items from our collection, and information on how you can be part of sporting history. If you can’t make it to Charleston, stop by the Library & Museum and pick up a copy of Side-by-Side with Gun & Dog‘s exhibition catalog. It’s a wishlist must for wing shooters and dog lovers alike!

Or meet us in Charleston!
Come see us in Middleburg