Researching Modern Evangelicalism: A Guide to the Holdings of the Billy Graham Center, with Information on Other Collections

By Robert D. Shuster; James Stambaugh et al. | Go to book overview

The Museum

The Museum collection complements the other resources of the Graham Center. During the formative stages of development the resource divisions of the Center collaborated to divide up the collecting task in a way which would eliminate unnecessary duplication and overlapping of efforts. Materials are divided up according to content, type, period, and their appropriateness to the resource itself. Another result of that effort is that the Archives and Library can be viewed more as pure information bases, while the Museum serves more as a visual repository which illustrates the history and witness of Evangelical Christianity. The Museum collection contains images and objects which focus on historic, symbolic, and aesthetic highlights of American Evangelical Christianity and its antecedents. Because of its historic and theological position, Evangelical Christianity has not left behind much material culture of the type that is usually found in museums. It is and has been in the past primarily a religion of spoken and written words rather than images or artifacts. Consequently, much of the Museum's collection consists of material normally associated with archives and libraries. To understand the distinctions between them it might be well to give one example. Both the Library and Museum collect books, but they do it from entirely different perspectives. The Library collects books for information and research and is concerned only with the content of the books. The Museum collects books as objects and is concerned with their symbolic and historic importance. Therefore, the Museum's collection is filled with rare books, first editions, fine printing, and illustrated books. Likewise, the Museum and Archives collect photographs but the Museum specializes in nineteenth century photography while the Archives centers on twentieth century material.

In two instances, collections were transferred to facilitate the task of the researcher. In 1984 the entire manuscript collection of the Museum was deaccessioned and turned over to the Archives, so that all manuscript material is now located in the Archives. Likewise, the Museum's pamphlet collection was transferred to the Library in 1989.

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