The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Category: What Gets Saved
- Palmyra's Arch de Triumph (recreated) stands again in London, brought to you by 3D tech. [via Hyperallergic]
- New digital collection available; Cold War archives. [via InfoDocket]
- A new book of Pablo Neruda poetry found by archivists is about to be published. [via NPR]
- Harriet Tubman is expected to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. [via Hyperallergic]
- Help the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum understand America's news coverage of the Holocaust. [via USA Today]
- A new book, Rise of Rocket Girls, captures the history of women who worked in the the early days of NASA. [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- A 1967 film on family planning featuring Donald Duck, from the Population Council & Disney! [via Open Culture]
What better way to usher in Preservation Week 2016 than to touch on a topic often overlooked when discussing the preservation of our cultural heritage? Preservation surveys have been taking place for decades now and provide preservation and collections managers with important information regarding the overall state of collections. This information can then be used to aid in prioritization for preservation actions, in terms of conservation treatment and digitization; to advocate for the funding of preservation activities; and to assess the current state of a preservation program by identifying strengths and areas requiring improvement. Participation in surveys can be at both an individual organization level, as well as at a national level.
Currently, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, partnering with seven other Smithsonian units, is conducting a comprehensive survey of our audiovisual collections consisting of analog film, video, and audio held across the Institution. This survey focuses primarily on preservation prioritization – determining the current state of our media collections, their future needs, and how those needs will be met by the Smithsonian.
Based on Harvard University’s Mellon-funded Photograph Survey and adapted for the unique requirements of audiovisual materials, the survey is a risk-based preservation assessment that collects data on several different factors – the character and extent of the collection, the physical and intellectual accessibility, current housing, format obsolescence, and physical media condition. Another facet of the survey is an item-level count of the collections, including factors such as format, film length, run time, run speed, and substrate material. This information will provide guidance in determining future staffing, supply needs, and methodologies for potential large-scale projects. In addition, we are conducting testing of cellulose acetate films using acid-detecting (A-D) strips– acid-base indicator papers that turn from blue to green to yellow in the presence of increasing amounts of acetic acid vapors.
The survey will form the basis of a plan of action for multiple units. It will provide data for future pan-institutional audiovisual preservation and reformatting projects, as well as encourage the development of standard in-house guidelines for the preservation of these unique materials within our vast collections.
Additional Surveys to Explore:
- Heritage Preservation’s Heritage Health Index, 2004 and 2014: Heritage Preservation, partnered with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), conducted these surveys to assess the current state of cultural heritage collections in the U.S. and the change in preservation practices over the ten year span between surveys. On June 30, 2015, Heritage Preservation members voted for the dissolution of the organization and several of its programs were transitioned to the Foundation of the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC).
- The American Library Association – Association for Library Collections & Technical Services’ Preservation Statistics Survey: Reintroduced in 2012, the goal of this survey is to document the state of preservation activities, both conservation and digitization, using quantitative data to facilitate peer comparison and understand the changes and trends in the field.
- The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and FAIC’s relaunch of the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) Program: This program was transitioned to FAIC upon the dissolution of Heritage Preservation and is currently undergoing development to create the infrastructure to run the program. Key components of the new program will include linking museums with training and other resources as needed, improved training for assessors, and aiding in the creation of sustainable collections care and preservation programs. The first call for applications will be in the fall of 2016.
- One Lens for Multiple Archives: A Pan-Institutional Survey of Born Digital Holdings, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- The End of the Beginning: A Born Digital Survey at the Smithsonian Institution, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Disk Diving: A Born Digital Collections Survey at the Smithsonian, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Thank you, NASA! 3 million new images of earth. [via PetaPixel]
- The Serpukhov’s Museum of History and Art has hired a resident cat. No joke. [via hyperallergic]
- A new book from the Smithsonian's own Darrin Lunde about the naturalist side of Teddy Roosevelt. [via Daily Beast]
- The Robert Gessner film archives related to his book, "Some of my Best Friends Are Jews." [via United States Holocaust Memorial Museum-USHMM]
- Also from the USHMM, History Unfolded, a new crowdsourcing project, to find out how much Americans knew about the Holocaust as it unfolded. [via Washington Post]
- The European Archaeology Music Project is recreating ancient instruments to capture their sound. [via NY Times]
- In honor of National Library Week, the State of America's Libraries. [via American Libraries Magazine]
- Berlin, before and after WWII. [via Open Culture]
- Reading never looked so cool with the American Library Association. [via Open Culture]
- Libraries join the fight against homelessness. [via InfoDocket]
- NYPL and The Moth join forces to make their audio more accessible with Together We Listen. [via NYPL labs]
- Teen art museum programs have a lasting impact. [via Smithsonian.com]
- A peek into Vincent VanGogh's personal life from his letters. [via Open Culture]
- The Wright Brother's plan for a flying machine recovered after 36 years lost! [via Washington Post]
- A new report on how the public uses Europeana. [via InfoDocket]
- The next Rembrandt painting brought to you by technology. [via Open Culture]
- Art Deco beetles and butterflies from Smithsonian Libraries. [via Hyperallergic]
- Depression-era faces lost to history by an editor's hold punch. [via PetaPixel]
- A new online archive: the Digital Transgender Archive. [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- The Photographers' Identities Catalog, a collection of biographical data for over 115,000 photographers, studios, etc. [via NYPL LABS]
- A new app using British Library collections built by its Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Poetic Places. [via Info Docket]
- The stuff of a Gen X kid's dreams: 2-player MondriPong. [via This Colossal]