BU Today

Campus Life

For more than two decades, Perry Barton has brought BU’s archives to life

For more than two decades, Perry Barton has brought BU’s archival collections to life.

When Perry Barton began work as the exhibitions coordinator at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, he knew that his fine arts degree would help in designing exhibitions. He learned quickly, however, that the job also involved behind-the-scenes work researching and sifting through more than 2,000 collections of manuscripts and artifacts. Barton, who marks his 25th anniversary with the University this month, over the years has been responsible for a wide array of exhibitions in the fields of film, poetry, politics, music, and theater.

Barton began as a bibliographic searcher at Mugar Memorial Library and soon became the exhibitions coordinator for what was then known as Special Collections, which stores the works of many significant public figures. He researches, retrieves, and installs the center’s historical memorabilia into various exhibitions. A large exhibition can take up to three months to construct, especially when more than one collection is involved. “The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center has a very active exhibition program,” Barton says. “I am a very busy guy.”

In each collection he studies for an exhibition, Barton focuses on finding fascinating material. “Every time I go into a collection, I never know exactly what I might find,” he says. “There is always a sense of discovery and delight inherent in my job.”

Barton also enjoys painting and drawing. His work has been exhibited regionally, and he is currently looking for a new studio to begin more challenging work.

The center’s current exhibition, Espionage: Intelligence, Secrets, and Spies, pulls from a number of collections and sheds light on the fact and the fiction of international espionage. The exhibition, located in the Richards-Frost Room on the first floor of Mugar Memorial Library, is open to the public from Monday to Friday through October 2006.