On Tape: Highlights of the McKim Building

We are excited to share a new video tour highlighting some of the key design features of our 1895 McKim Building at the Central Library in Copley Square.  

This informal piece is in no way a replacement for the hour-long Art & Architecture tours provided by our forty dedicated volunteer guides, but it provides a glimpse into the spaces that we have been missing over the past year. We look forward to restarting live tours once it is safe to do so. 

This video has been produced entirely by our internal team at BPLworking at a safe social distance, of course. It is the product of multiple shoots and editing sessions over the winter months, given our limited access to the building amidst COVID restrictions.  

Members of BPL's Audio/Visual team film the McKim highlights tour on the Dartmouth plaza.
Members of BPL's A/V team film outside on the Dartmouth plaza at a social distance.

While a lot of us have been asking ourselves, “What is time?” this year, viewers may be able to narrow down our filming window when some festive wreaths make a brief appearance on the building’s façade (the timing made our team’s choice to wear t-shirts during this sequence all the more adventurous) 

It has been a joy to share a new project with our Audio/Visual Department, who were able to squeeze in filming and editing time between their tireless work enabling virtual programming and meetings at the Central Library and our neighborhood branch locations. The talented spouse of one of our team members even composed some musical interludes for the piece. 

After our first try at producing a homegrown video walkthrough, we can share a few key takeaways: 

  • As difficult as we find cramming the building’s content into an hour-long tour, it is a mighty challenge to fit even the highlights of this National Historic Landmark into a twelve-minute video. We tried. 
  • The ground-up view is underrated—as proven by our cameraman and his unwavering devotion to his craft.   
  • Libraries can be quiet spaces in “normal” times, but they are eerily silent in the absence of staff and patrons. That is, until our film crew breaks out their improvised camera dolly.  
A member of BPL's A/V team films the Lobby ceiling from floor level.
No camera angle can escape the creative problem solving of our A/V crew.

As enjoyable as this piece was to create, we realize that the combination of sensory experiences in this remarkable building can never be replicated by a video. Whether through hearing the reverberation of voices beneath vaulted ceilings, feeling your feet upon the marble floors, or seeing the way the natural light hits the ornamented details of these rooms just so, there is nothing to equal an in-person visit, however you may process itFor all of these reasons and more, we can’t wait to welcome our patrons back to enjoy our built heritage in person. 

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