Douglas Burden

About two weeks ago, the American Museum of Natural History launched their Digital Special Collections as an Omeka website. I had used their online photography search in the past (like in my very first post!), but this new database is remarkably more robust, and features a broader set of materials, including illustrations and documents.

Pictured above is Douglas Burden, famous as a nature filmmaker and less famous as an advocate for the use of sound in museums. He shows up a few times in my dissertation because of his frequent correspondence with various AMNH staff members where he argues for wiring the museum for sound and replacing all of the printed text with audio recordings. In one such letter, he writes,

> Labels can’t carry much of a story. In fact, they can scarcely carry a story at all…[the solution is] fairly simple: we only need to replace the written word with the spoken word and provide some means of reducing fatigue.”

One of the chapters in the manuscript I’m now simply referring to as “the museum chapter,” so I can’t wait to dive deeper into this archive. You can read an early version of some of these museum ideas in my article in Antennae.



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