Curating at the Lilly: Week Five

Preparations for the guest curator’s visit to the Lilly are wrapping up. By the end of the week, we had managed to carve out a corner in the Reading Room filled with boxes and books all about Sherlock Holmes and one of the most preeminent literary societies dedicated to the detective — the Baker Street Irregulars. The mass of papers, both bound and unbound, is large but strategically selected based on last week’s broad search of our collections and a list of BSI material provided by the curator. Even with the guest curator’s wish list, I realize it takes a certain amount of insight and skill to anticipate what he truly will need. I’ve done my best to ensure the most essential materials, both inside and outside the BSI collection, are on hold and readily available in the Reading Room. We’ll see how my prep work impacts the guest curator’s productivity during his brief but crucial visit. Three days is not much time to study and select 221 items, especially when the Lilly offers thousands of items from which to choose.

This week, I was able to take a break or two from my Sherlockiana immersion to return to brainstorming for Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon. I grew tired of seeing my messy scribbles on pieces of printer paper, so I went in search of an online tool that could help me generate a clean and beautiful mind map. Thus I discovered the online bubble map generator known as Bubbl.us. Even the free version has features that will help me keep better track of my ideas. For example, I’ve been able to color code my degrees of connection. To my own personal delight, I figured out that if I use the rainbow color system with Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum coded red, I know I will have completed a full six-degree chain of connection when I complete the rainbow: red = Sir Francis Bacon, orange = 1 degree of connection, yellow = 2 degrees, green = 3 degrees, blue = 4 degrees, indigo = 5 degrees, and violet = 6 degrees! Our goal is to have two “full rainbows” represented in the exhibit, in addition to several shorter chains.

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