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List-Nerd Paradise: Smithsonian Archives’ Famous Lists

Lists are everywhere. They’re in our everyday lives, in history and even in art. I was reminded of this as I walked through the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City this weekend. I went to see their newest exhibit – “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists Enumerations from the Smithonian’s Archives of American Art” – also known as…”List-nerd paradise.” I was in heaven.

I’m a serious list maker – but these lists put even me to shame. There were lists of everything! Some were handwritten, some typed, some in drawings and doodles. Lists of animals, jewelry in production, things that made the author happy, models for paintings, expenses, clients, instructions, reasons for being too busy, inappropriate words and more desirable alternatives, resumes, receipts, addresses, costumes, slogans and even paint colors! You name it – there was a list for it.

Here’s a list (of course) of my favorites:

A Packing List

This is artist Adolf Konrad’s packing list. It’s from December 16, 1963. I love how he drew out every one of his paintbrushes, his comb, camera and all of his outfits. Just goes to show – it doesn’t matter HOW you make a packing list…as long as you make one to stay organized when you travel.

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