Barry Moser signing a few books, with yours truly assisting
Last Friday the Special Collections department was paid a visit by a very special guest. Barry Moser, UTC alum and world-renowned artist, stopped in for a visit. We have a large collection of Mr. Moser’s work and he has been generous enough to look at some items in the past. Mr. Moser was in town & asked to come in and spend the day with the 600-plus-item collection and help us identify, date, & sign items.
I processed our collection of Mr. Moser’s material and was fortunate enough to sit with him all day during his visit. He signed, dated, and identified items for over 5 hours (what a gift for us!). During this time, he told many stories about the art, what was happening in his life at the time he created it, who characters were based upon, inspiration for certain pieces, etc. I had enjoyed processing Mr. Moser’s artwork and was excited to meet him, but hearing about the items I processed from their creator was a unique & indescribable experience- truly, I have no suitable words for it. The valuable information given adds not only to the information about individual pieces, but also to our knowledge about the intellectual processes of the creator- something you would likely never know.
As archivists, we are not often afforded the opportunity to sit down and chat at length with creators of collections (in our case, most are no longer living). When we do get that chance, we should make every use of that opportunity. Record the chat (with permission), take notes, ask questions, absorb, and enter that information into the finding aid or control file. For those of you who are not archivists, consider doing the same with relatives (especially the elderly) whose stories are almost over. You cannot predict how valuable this information might be in the future.