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Meet the staff: Peter Mears

By Marlene Renz

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Cultural Compass that highlights the work, experience, and lives of staff at the Harry Ransom Center.

Peter Mears served in the United States Army before receiving his Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art. After traveling through Central America he arrived in Austin and gained experience at what is now called the Contemporary Austin Museum. Mears joined the Ransom Center in 1995 and serves as Curator of Art. Read more

Frida Kahlo’s “Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” is star of New York Botanical Garden exhibition

By Rebecca Johnson

Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird and Still Life with Parrot and Fruit, from the Harry Ransom Center’s Nickolas Muray collection of Mexican art, are currently on view at the New York Botanical Garden’s exhibition Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life. Running through November 1, the exhibition Read more

Social Media: Nothing New? Commonplace Books As Predecessor to Pinterest

By Kelsey McKinney

The Ransom Center’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibition includes a commonplace book kept by Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) with information about ciphers, anagrams, stenography, and labyrinths. As Kelsey McKinney, a former public affairs intern, writes, these “personal anthologies” functioned as “literary scrapbooks”. While these scrapbooks were “commonplace” in Victorian culture, modern means of communication fulfill the same desire for people to record and share their life experiences.

The exhibition—and Dodgson’s commonplace book—are on view at the Ransom Center through July 6, 2015.

Before the affordability of personal libraries, and before people were able to access the world’s knowledge through the Internet, readers and writers had to find reasonable ways to consolidate and store information that could be useful to them. There were no social media to help them aggregate and share stories, quotes, recipes, or images. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do exactly that. They created personal anthologies called commonplace books. Read more