Digital Treasure Trove: Project Update

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives & Collections

How time flies! It has been a year since we were awarded the IMLS grant. It seems fitting that I take this chance to provide an overview of all the changes and activities that have been completed so far.

The first major update is in regards to staffing changes. HoJun who served as the Project Museum Collections Assistant decided to leave the project early. In his place, we were fortunate to hire an amazing candidate, L Gnadinger. L is an artist, writer, and educator originally from Louisville, KT who has experience with art handling, writing, and arts administration. We’re happy to have L join the IMLS project team!

We’ve completed the first round of cataloging for all permanent works in PAFA’s collection. The main emphasis for this round of cataloging was to obtain accurate biographical information—life dates, place of birth, nationality, gender, race, etc. This round also included ensuring all objects had at least one subject access point, standardized date, copyright information, and of course, no spelling errors.

Photographing the collection has been challenging due to the staff change, technology problems, and institutional commitments. However, we managed to bounce back rather quickly when we switched to photographing 3D works (sculpture) in the second half of the summer. To date, we have photographed 82 small/medium sized sculptures (21%). In the past, we took 1-3 photos of a sculpture in a frontal view only. This time, we decided to photograph the sculpture 10 times to create a full 360 degree view of the work. We believe this added work would not only help PAFA document the work better, but also help curators and researchers view other markings such as a signature or date that is typically on the back of a sculpture.

PAFA’s legacy files are stored in a complex web of folders with tiff and jpg files intermixed with unconventional file naming standards. L has taken on the immense task of digital file management. Fortunately, L has Python programming skills that proved to be invaluable for this task. After a few weeks of brainstorming, testing, and team meetings, L was able to get a grasp of what the best approach would be.

I’ve been working closely with PAFA’s Registrar, Danielle McAdams, who is assisting with the CMS implementation phase of the project. The data migration and implementation of a new CMS is largely done by the vendors. We are currently reviewing the vendor’s feedback for crosswalks that aren’t compatible with the new CMS and determining if we require anything more customized for our needs. So far, there hasn’t been any major issues.

Digital Treasure Trove: Project Update

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

We are excited to announce the official launch of the IMLS grant funded project to photograph all works in PAFA’s permanent collection up to 2018. In addition, there will be a large scale data cleanup of the collection catalog records.

PAFA is happy to introduce HoJun Yu who will serve as the Project Museum Collections Assistant. HoJun is not your traditional museum professional. His educational background was actually in chemistry which may seem odd but there are definitely overlapping skills, particularly when it comes to critical thinking and analytical skills. For instance, these skills will be invaluable for his work reviewing, updating, and creating better catalog records for PAFA’s entire permanent art collection data.

The other portion of his duties is supporting PAFA’s efforts to photograph its permanent collection. HoJun has a passion for photography which is demonstrated by his work as a photographer during his undergraduate studies as well as freelance work (

HoJun with camera

Please check back here regularly for updates on the project. 

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Archives News

The archives has resumed its operating hours as of November 17, 2021. The archives is now open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. Please note that the archives is still operating in a hybrid work schedule which specifically means staff are working remotely Monday to Wednesday and onsite Thursday to Friday. The best way to contact the archives is via email:

If you wish to visit the archives for in-person research, please schedule your visits for Thursdays and Fridays. Don’t forget that PAFA’s Digital Archives has many digital resources online as well:

As the holidays quickly approach, we also want to take a moment to outline closures.

The archives will closed the follow days:

  • Thursday-Friday November 25 & 26, 2021
  • Thursday-Friday December 9 & 10, 2021 (private event)
  • December 24, 2021
  • December 27, 2021
  • December 31, 2021

COVID-19 Updates

Next week will mark one year that the archives will be closed due to the pandemic. A majority of PAFA staff have continued working remotely, including the archives. Fortunately, we managed to remain productive during this time.

  1. The project team completed the Rediscovering John Rhoden grant project.
    • Completed the digitization right before closure.
    • Completed cataloging over 3900 items.
    • Completed the collection finding aid.
    • Completed the John Rhoden digital portal. We are currently doing a round of edits before we publicly promote and launch the digital portal and finding aid.
  2. Updated and created a number of online resources on PAFA’s history.

COVID-19 Updates

PAFA is committed to the health and safety of our visitors and staff. The PAFA administration is closely monitoring the global and local situation with regard to the 2019 coronavirus disease, COVID-19, including advisories from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and local authorities.

Follow PAFA on Facebook (PAFAcademy) and on Instagram (@pafacademy) for immediate updates. For additional resources and announcements, please visit PAFA’s website.

PAFA Archives staff will continue to serve the public remotely by responding to emailed requests ( While the Archives are closed, we invite the public to explore our online resources by visiting our digital archives (

NEH Grant Project Update

Though the PAFA campus remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to announce that work on the NEH Project – Rediscovering John Rhoden recommences remotely this week!

Due to the present circumstances, we are operating at a somewhat limited capacity and, after over three months away, we will be taking some time to refamiliarize ourselves with the work at hand. Remotely, we are able to continue cataloging our digitized holdings, writing blog posts, and exploring different approaches for curating and presenting the digitized Rhoden papers.

This time away from the project has given us the opportunity to reflect on our work. The preservation and promotion of the tangible remnants of John Rhoden’s legacy is an important and exciting responsibility. We feel so privileged to be able to continue our work to make this legacy widely accessible. 

We will continue to update you as we learn more about how COVID-19 will impact our ability to return to the physical collection. For now, we will return to regular blog posts and updates on our continued progress. 

Kelin Baldridge
Project Archivist for the John Rhoden papers


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:

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.