Green River Star -

By Amanda Benson
Sweetwater County Historical Museum 

Museum showcases Smithsonian booklet for artifact of the month


February is typically known as a month of romance due in part to Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14.

For this month’s Artifact of the Month, the Sweetwater County Museum is also getting into the romantic mood, but in a different sense. The featured artifact is a booklet titled, “The Romance of the Smithsonian Institution: Vividly Portrayed by Its Scholars in the Smithsonian Scientific Series.” It features the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as the Castle, on the cover. The book was printed in 1942 as part of an intended series.

While at first glance the title seems to allude to romantic escapades between Smithsonian workers, it is actually a reference to the movement of Romanticism. Romanticism was popularized in the late 18th century and hit its peak through the first half of the 19th century. Art, literature, and music of the time were driven by the use of emotion, imagination, and freedom, as it was a response to the Industrial Revolution. The Romantic Movement sought to reconnect with nature as well as history.

The Smithsonian Institution was established during the height of the Romantic Movement in 1846. Then in 1855, the Smithsonian Institution Building was constructed as the first of now nineteen Smithsonian buildings. The Smithsonian Institution is the largest museum in the world, and rightfully so. When the word “museum” is mentioned, many people think of the Smithsonian. The work they do influences museums nationally and around the world, including the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.

Some topics in the booklet include fish and reptiles, old and new plant lore and minerals from earth and sky. The purpose of this booklet was to reach out to the Smithsonian’s audience and expose them to parts of their collection that normally are not, or ever will be, on display.

Does that sound familiar? Museums only exhibit about 10 percent of their entire collection at a time. Publications like this artifact, as well as this Artifact of the Month series, are ways to get more of our collections out to you!

Come show your love for the Sweetwater County Museum and check out the Artifact of the Month, as well as the other fantastic exhibits we have on display. Please keep in mind that we have moved to winter hours. We are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until May 15.


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