Tropical Rainforest Exhibit Interviews,
1992, 1994

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 9565
Dates:
1992, 1994
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
20 audiotapes and 1 videotape.
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also reminiscences and interviews recorded by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Tropical Rainforest Exhibit Oral History Collection was compiled to document the exhibit processes of the National Museum of Natural History.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
Steven W. Allison, Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow, from Cornell University, Department of Science and Technology Studies, conducted these interviews as a part of his doctoral research into the relationship between exhibition and research in natural history museums. These interviews cover the relationship between research and exhibition at the NMNH; the changes in meaning of the rainforest as it was reinterpreted for different exhibits; and the impact of trends in public education about science and the role of an icon, such as the rainforest, in discussions of the environment. Interviews of Sayre include both audiotaped and videotaped sessions and include many visuals from the exhibit.
The Tropical Rainforest Exhibit Oral History Collection consist of 16 interview sessions, totaling approximately 18.5 hours of audiotape recordings, 0.40 hours of videotape recordings, and 313 pages of transcript. There are two generations of recordings: original tapes and reference tapes. In total this collection is comprised of 20 original audio cassette tapes, 1 original Hi-8 videotape, and 21 reference copy cassette tapes and 1 reference copy videotape. The audiotape cassettes have been remastered onto reel-to-reel audiotape and transferred to digital .wav files. The original tapes and digital files are reserved in preservation storage.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Museum exhibits are the result of a complex interplay between researchers, educators, and design specialists. These interviews focus on a case study of the evolution of a tropical rainforest life group at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in the 1960s and 1970s, which first emerged as a Hall of Botany in 1960, was redefined as a Hall of Living Things in 1968, was eventually built for an exhibit on environmental issues called It All Depends, in 1974, and was later moved to the Hall of South American Anthropology in the Natural History Building. The interviewees include: Stanwyn G. Shetler, Curator of Phanerogams, NMNH, member of the exhibit committee for the original Hall of Botany; Reginald "Bud" J. Sayre, Preparator, Natural History Laboratory, who participated in an expedition to Kaieteur Falls in British Guiana to collect specimens and make molds and drawings of the site for the rainforest part of the exhibit in NMNH; Sophy Burnham, former Assistant Curator of the Smithsonian Museum Service, who was instrumental in creating a film, The Leaf Thieves, which documents the creation of the exhibit; Richard Sumner Cowan, former Director, NMNH, who also participated in the Kaieteur Falls Expedition to collect materials for the original Hall of Botany; Joseph Shannon, former Designer, NMNH, who worked on the design of the Botany Hall and later the Hall of Living Things; Paul N. Perrot, former Assistant Secretary for Museum Programs, who was involved in providing support, recommendations, and facilitating the exhibit work, and who helped establish an Office of Exhibits Central at the Smithsonian; James A. Mahoney, former Chief of the Office of Exhibits Central, who worked on many aspects of the rainforest exhibit; David B. Lellinger, Curator of Ferns, NMNH, a member of the original exhibit committee and participant in several collecting field trips for the exhibit; and Thomas E. Lovejoy, III, Counselor to the Secretary for Biodiversity and Environmental Affairs, on the role of tropical rainforests as icons for the environmental movement.

Notes
Oral Histories

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9565, , Tropical Rainforest Exhibit Interviews
Use Restriction
Restricted.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Burnham, Sophy Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Perrot, Paul N. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mahoney, James A. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sayre, Reginald J. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cowan, Richard S., 1921-1997 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shetler, Stanwyn G. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lovejoy, Thomas E. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lellinger, David B. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shannon, Joe Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hall of Living Things (NMNH) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hall of South American Anthropology (NMNH) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smithsonian Museum Service. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hall of Botany (NMNH) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Office of Exhibits Central Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
It All Depends: How Man Affects and Is Affected by His Natural Environment (Exhibition) (Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum techniques Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tropical biology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Botany Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ecology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conservation of natural resources Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Exhibitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Allison, Steven W. interviewer. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lellinger, David B. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mahoney, James A. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sayre, Reginald J. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shannon, Joe interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shetler, Stanwyn G. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Perrot, Paul N. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lovejoy, Thomas E. interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cowan, Richard S., 1921-1997 interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Burnham, Sophy interviewee. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu