Barbara Mathé

Museum Archivist and Head of Library Special Collections (retired)
Barbara Mathé has spent over twenty years managing the Archives and Special Collections in the American Museum of Natural History Research Library. Recently retired as Museum Archivist, she coordinated efforts with those in charge of the archives in the Museum’s scientific departments to survey their holdings pertinent to scientific research, exhibition and education. She shares the vision of many librarians, archivists, and museum collection and data managers to integrate access and preservation of all research materials, across all disciplines, whether held in libraries, archives, museum collections or other cultural repositories. This is an admittedly long term and complex goal aided by an enthusiastic community eager to share the development of modular open source software and to standardize globally unique identifiers to allow data and resources to be linked across institutional repositories and be repurposed easily for specialized access. Now an Associate in the AMNH Division of Anthropology, Mathé has long held a personal interest in the cultures of the Pacific North West Coast; in 1993, she joined two Tlingit weavers to dig spruce roots to make baskets. Coinciding with the “Jesup 2” initiative of the Smithsonian Institution to mark the 100th anniversary of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, she co-curated a major AMNH photography exhibition in 1997, called “Drawing Shadows to Stone.” The exhibition reversed the usual norm of illustrating museum objects with photographs, and instead used the objects shown in the archival images, along with both archival and contemporary sound and moving images, to illustrate the cooperative effort between indigenous peoples and Museum anthropologists to record their changing cultures. Mathé graduated with an MSLS from Columbia University after completing one year of graduate study in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London.