Special exhibits are temporary in nature and are tailored to the purpose of a particular group’s visit to the Rockefeller Archive Center. Providing visitors with an immersive archival experience and highlighting the various formats and collections of material allow for an enriched story to be told in exhibit form.
The size of the group and number of items to be exhibited will determine where the exhibit will be located and time allotted. Conversely, sometimes the time allotted will help determine the number of items selected. The tabletops in Vault 107, Blue Room, Conference Room, Dining Room, Second Reading Room, and Junior’s Office are options for exhibit space, but each must be reserved in advance, and RAC staff should be given notice of a group visit. When appropriate, Exhibit Guides serve as documentation and further explanation of the materials exhibited.
Security of the original archival materials on exhibit must be taken into account at all stages of exhibit preparation and presentation. All RAC staff (whether serving as tour leader or as document security staff) should be trained in proper handling procedures during group visits and should lead by example.
In determining the quantity of materials to be exhibited, the space allocated for the exhibit should be considered along with intellectual scope. Even when desired for content, an overload of materials creates additional security and handling concerns and choices must be made.
When preparing an exhibit in a locked vault space, a placeholder sign noting whom to contact and when the exhibit will be viewed should remain with the materials once the exhibit has been finalized and staged.
Archival staff should be with materials at all times if materials are staged and exhibited in a room without a lock (i.e., a public room), and staff assigned to that space should remain with the materials until the exhibit has been dismantled and safely rehoused.
RAC staff who are involved in exhibit security should ensure the following objectives are carried out:
Some group visits may be of such a nature that it is not possible for archival staff to introduce themselves and to brief visitors on document handling rules as they enter the exhibit space. However, security staff should feel empowered to ensure proper handling at all times through discreet intervention with visitors when necessary.
Contact the point person for the visiting group if you have any questions.
In the event of an exhibit in the Conference Room, Junior’s Office, or the Dining Room, temporary signage may be deployed for specific items or furniture. Staff training regarding original items versus replicas, as well as proper handling of material, will be emphasized when necessary to support the items.