NEH Grant Project Update

As PAFA remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting America, it is with mixed emotions that we announce the suspension of all work on the NEH Grant Project – Rediscovering John Rhoden.

Project Archivist Kelin Baldridge with help from Assistant Archivist Jahna Auerbach have both been amazing colleagues. It has been a pleasure working alongside them for the past six months. Together, we sifted and explored the treasure trove of materials that help illuminate John Rhoden’s life as an artist, husband, educator, and community anchor.

We cannot provide additional details as to when the project will resume as things are changing daily here in Philadelphia and much of the United States during the pandemic. We want to thank everyone for following us all this time on our social media journey!

See you soon!

Hoang Tran
Project Director for the Rediscovering John Rhoden NEH Grant project.

PAFA will temporarily close to the public beginning Saturday, March 14, until further notice.

The health and safety of our community is, and must be, our highest priority. PAFA will continue to monitor the global and local situation with regard to COVID-19, including advisories from local and national health authorities, while the Museum is closed to the public.

As a result, all research requests have been suspended until further notice. We urge patrons to use our Digital Archives to access historical records and online resources to supplement your research needs for the time being.

Any relevant updates related to PAFA’s museum operations will be posted on our website’s dedicated COVID-19 page. We encourage you to check back often.

Happy Holidays from PAFA!

PAFA (museum) staff photo with artist Kambal Smith and his large-scale building sculpture of PAFA’s Frank Furness building.

We’d like to wish everyone the warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!

A quick update on our holiday hours. The archives will be closed December 23, 2019 through January 2, 2019.

The Museum galleries will be operating on a holiday schedule as well:

  • Closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
  • Open: New Year’s Eve, 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Mondays: Closed
  • Tuesday-Friday: 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

For more information on visiting the museum, please visit our website.

Congratulations to the CCL Class of 2020!

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Anna Marley, PAFA’s Curator of Historical American Art and Director of the Center for the Study of the American Artist (and my boss!). Anna has been named a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow for 2020!

Dr. Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art and Director for the Center of the Study of the American Artist
Dr. Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art and Director for the Center of the Study of the American Artist

The Fellowship includes instruction from Columbia Business School faculty, exposure to real-world challenges faced by cultural institutions, and a week long residency shadowing a Director at another major museum.

I am extremely proud of Anna and all her accomplishments (she recently celebrated her 10-year work anniversary at PAFA this past March). Anna is one of the strongest proponents of PAFA’s Archives program and much of her work affirms PAFA’s place in the American Art canon. I am grateful to have an amazing and supportive mentor here at PAFA! My favorite Anna quote, “There is no American Art without PAFA.”

Rediscovering John Rhoden: Project Update

Kelin Baldrige, Project Archivist for the John Rhoden papers surveying the collection.

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

We are excited to announce the official launch of the NEH grant funded project to process and digitize the John Rhoden (1916-2001) artist papers.

The funds will help support the Archives’ efforts to preserve and provide greater access to the rich primary records of the under-recognized American sculptor John Rhoden. The Archives is also happy to introduce Kelin Baldridge who will serve as Project Archivist. Kelin will spearhead the one year project which includes surveying, processing, cataloging, and digitizing the artist’s papers.  

In true PAFA fashion, Kelin hit the ground running during her first two weeks on the job! Please check back here regularly for updates on the project. 


ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Archives resumes normal business hours

PAFA’s Archives will resume public hours beginning September 23, 2019:

MondayFriday: 10am – 4:30pm

As a reminder, individuals wishing to review records need to schedule an appointment in advance of their arrival. Appointments are required, due to limited seating capacity and staff. For more information on visiting the archives for research, please visit here.

Don’t forget to visit PAFA’s Digital Archives for additional online resources. New digital collections are routinely added.

PAFA’s (New) Digital Archives

The Archives has successfully upgraded its online digital archives platform. PAFA’s Digital Archives (PDA) gives researchers more efficient tools to view and search the voluminous digital collections held at the Archives. The new Digital Collections site ( http://pafaarchives.org/ ) updates the previous web interface to a more user-friendly experience that improves users’ ability to discover images, learn more about holdings, and browse collections.

Screenshot of the landing page for PAFA's upgraded Digital Archives portal.

“Aesthetically, the front-end user interface looks similar to our previous site. The main improvements come on the back-end with more robust features that will help connect users to more items,” said Hoang Tran, Director of Archives. “Moreover, the project included an upgrade to our hosting server which ensures all digital assets are preserved and continually accessible.”

Added features include full-text search of PDF files, expanded metadata vocabularies, and linked open data.

Annual Archivist Conference: Archives*Records

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) joined the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) for a joint Annual Conference held in Washington, DC. The joint conference brought together record breaking attendance at the historic Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. With all the information professionals in DC, it was obvious that the week long conference would be filled with informational sessions, tours, projects, and networking events.

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A popular session titled “Email Archiving Comes of Age. Included 13 speakers!

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At the Library of Congress for the Unconference: Teaching with Primary Sources

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LOD stands for Linked Open Data

With so many events and sessions, I had to thoughtfully plan my week. I had to balance my personal/professional goals with the needs of PAFA’s archives program.

For the second year, I attended the Unconference: Teaching with Primary Sources. We were introduced to the Library of Congress’ many initiatives and resources that help educators, including archivists, to establish workshops and/or classes to assist students, teachers, and faculty on easy and scalable approaches of incorporating the use of primary source materials. In the second half of the afternoon, we broke off into different groups to discuss various topics. We had a chance to network and hear stories about successes (and failures). One particular success story came from the Brooklyn Historical Society where they developed free online curricula and resources. Using resources as models, it would be easy to adapt them to our needs.

Another well attended sessions was the SAA Museum Archives Section Group Symposium. It was great learning more about the projects at some of the leading museums in the nation–The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Yale Center for British Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Another interesting session was on Web Archiving. As we know, we are producing a huge amount of information online and most are ephemeral in nature. How does one begin to archive the information for posterity? What information do we save or discard?

A particular session that resonated with the archives here at PAFA came from True Confessions: Paying off the Technical Debt of Early Digital Projects. Just last year, we launched PAFA’s Digital Archive, which now has over 6400 items! The research, design, and implementation process was methodical and well thought out. We knew we needed to mitigate any issues that would cause an issue for the archives further down the line. we’re glad we spent the time doing so!

Linked Open Data (LOD) is a fairly new concept in the archives and information field. LOD in the simplest form is a method of publishing structured data (information) so that it can be interlinked and become more useful when conducting research. Often times, the linked data provides additional/optional/necessary contextual information. By leveraging the power of the web and computers, LOD makes it easier to share and browse data. The session Progress (and Pitfalls) of Linked Data Projects outlined some tips, resources, and tools on how to implement LOD. Our neighbors at the Philadelphia Museum of Art discussed their current project, Building a Duchamp Research Portal at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Filled with great food, sites, and history, Washington, DC was an amazing host city for the conference. Until next time!

IMLS Project Update: PAFA’s New Digital Archive

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ (PAFA) Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives is excited to announce the public beta launch of its new online Digital Archives. With the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Archives was able to develop a comprehensive plan to digitize and disseminate some of the Archives’ most significant holdings. For the one year pilot project, the Archives selected a high value/high risk collection—the Annual Exhibition Photograph collection—to test and develop proper workflows, guidelines, and best practices.

To increase the searchability and discoverability of digital resources, images were cataloged using widely adopted metadata standards. To ensure we reproduced high quality digital surrogates, we developed a digitization workflow that adhered to national standards and guidelines. The results from the pilot project will help guide future digitization projects.

As the IMLS Grant Project comes to a close, we are happy to announce that we have exceeded the initial goal of the pilot project. This past year, we were able to develop internal guidelines for digitization and cataloging, rehouse 100% of the photograph collection, digitize, catalog and provide free online access to over 3,600 images, and even develop a new online database.

The project is also significant as it provides us the ability to better serve our patrons. We are aware of the changing trends in research methodologies and how scholars have come to expect online access to primary sources. We will use the momentum created by the success of the pilot project to continue developing digitization projects. Please continue to visit the Digital Archives for newly digitized items and collections.