Discovering Transportation History in Small Museums


The world’s big transport museums are extremely popular and most have excellent archives and collections to support the work of scholars and specialists. Small museums, even those not directly dedicated to transportation subjects, can also offer excellent resources.  For example, the MIT Museum (Cambridge, MA) has rich collections on maritime and aerospace history.  On exhibition right now, the Hart Nautical Gallery features an exceptional collection of ship models that have been used for teaching and enrichment for nearly a century and two small aviation related exhibitions (Air transportation safety research at MIT Lincoln Laboratory; and a history of MIT’s AeroAstro Department which just marked the centennial of its aeronautical engineering program).

Later this month, on January 22nd, the museum will open Photographing Places which will feature a range of images by twenty photographers whose work appeared in the influential landscape and urban design journal Places between the years of 1987 and 2009, when the journal moved online. Founded in 1983 by faculty at MIT and Berkeley, Places is a leading journal of contemporary architecture, landscape, and urbanism.

Back of house, our museum contains many more artifacts, photographs, plans, drawings and other materials that would be of interest to researchers and we would be delighted to support such investigations.

I am hopeful that this brief post might encourage others to share news of exhibitions, archives, and museums that are a bit less well-known.

~Special Thanks to Deborah Douglas, Director of Collections, MIT Museum for this post.

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