B-O-O-K-S. What’s that spell? Fun! No wait. Books…which are fun!

By Tegan Hollen, Office Support Specialist ~

One thing I love just as much as I love museums is reading. I usually can’t go anywhere unless I have at least three books with me – you know, to make sure I always have one that I am really in the mood to read. I often plan my day around making a stop at my local library or the nearest bookstore.

Did I mention that I love reading?

So, for my first blog post, I thought I would share a short list of my recent reads that are related to art, history, or museums. The books I am featuring this time around all happen to be non-fiction, but don’t worry – I’ll be back with more lists like this in the future that feature some fiction too. I HAVE to talk about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg at some point, right?


My Favorite Things and Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag by Maira Kalman

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Maira Kalman is one of my favorite artists, so I usually pick up anything with her name on it. My Favorite Things and the companion for younger readers, Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag, feature Kalman’s paintings of her personal artifacts, memories, and selected items from Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. These objects range from original editions of Winnie-the-Pooh and Alice in Wonderland to a handkerchief in memoriam of Queen Victoria to photographs Kalman has taken of people walking towards and away from her. What I enjoyed the most about these books is they reminded me of talking with visitors here at the Museum/Gallery about the objects in our exhibits or collection that are most memorable to them.

If you were going to make a book like this, what objects would you include?


Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

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The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a medical history museum that contains anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment, many of which belonged to its namesake Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter. Dr. Mütter’s Marvels explores Mütter’s life, including his innovative work in surgery and patient care and his quirky personality (deemed so by his competitors). The book is a fascinating read, complete with detailed diagrams and images of those Mütter worked with.

Is the doctor’s office in our Main Street, USA exhibit one of your favorite parts of the Museum? Yes? Then this book is for you.




33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton

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I am currently reading 33 Artists in 3 Acts, and it makes me think of the question, “Which artist(s), dead or alive, would you like to have lunch with and why?” This book seems like Sarah Thornton’s answer to me. It includes her interviews with a number of artists, from Gabriel Orozco to Cindy Sherman, and examines the role that artists occupy in our culture and what they themselves think of that role. Thornton’s conversations with Jeff Koons and Ai Weiwei, which are interweaved throughout Act 1: Politics, stand out most to me so far. While it makes sense to me that the two are a good fit for a section related to politics, I have to say that reading about them side by side has deepened and changed my thoughts about each.

Do you sometimes wish you could be a fly-on-the-wall of an artist’s studio or maybe gain the ability to read their thoughts for a day? Check this book out.



What do you think? Will you be picking up any of these books to read? Or have you read any others that I should add to my list?