IMLS Project Update: Lessons Learned (Cataloging and Metadata)

Contributed by: Tess Amram, IMLS Project Archivist

The cataloging and metadata assignation portion of this project was the facet most relevant to my immediate career goals – I’m aiming for a career in cataloging, and I applied for this job in large part because it would expose me to cataloging standards I hadn’t yet had a chance to work with (i.e. standards for materials other than books). I hadn’t had much cause to use the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus before now, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to expose myself to controlled vocabulary outside of the Library of Congress Subject Headings (although I wish I had dived into Getty a bit earlier in the process – it would have saved me a lot of nitpicking at the end!).

One of the downsides of cataloging when you love it, I’ve found, is that it’s often difficult to know when to stop. There are a handful of photographs that I was unable to identify, both of gallery installations and of individual works, and it was very, very easy to slip into a Detective Mode Spiral and devote altogether more time than was wise trying to figure it out. Given the fact that most of the artwork depicted in the photographs is of ‘lost art’, it’s entirely possible that I wouldn’t have been able to identify a particular piece no matter what, but for a completionist like me, admitting defeat is quite frustrating.

IMLS Project Update: Lessons Learned (Digitization)

Contributed by: Tess Amram, IMLS Project Archivist

So many lessons learned from this project about digitization! I came into it a complete novice to the practice, and over 3500 images later, I think I’ve got a handle on the basics, at least. I’d only ever used a scanner for text-based documents and the occasional photograph, but I’d never had to scan to archival standards before, so the training I got at the beginning of the project was vital. Understanding the choice of color profiles and dpi to scan with, and Hoang’s explanations of debates among archivists on the topic, definitely helped me get a grasp on what the end result should look like, and what it would be used for.

If I could go back and start it all over again, I would definitely, definitely make sure the scanner was as calibrated as it could be before I got started. The main issue I ran into while digitizing was that of color – although the bulk of the images are black and white, the photographs are very old and most have gone yellow or red with age, whereas the scanner was producing images with a distinct green tinge. This was relatively easy to correct, by adjusting histograms before scanning, or doing a bit of a touch-up in Photoshop afterwards if necessary, but color correction took up a lot of valuable scanning time.

Annual Archivist Conference: ALIKE/DIFFERENT

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) Annual Conference in Portland, OR this year. The conference provided valuable professional development and networking opportunities that all archivists should take advantage of (if you have the opportunity).

Events such as the Teaching With Primary Sources: “Unconference” was particularly interesting. The all-day event generously hosted by the Portland Art Museum had the theme of “Aligning with Allies.” It was an informative and fun day, featuring a variety of workshops in the morning and an afternoon full of attendee-driven conversations (over 100 professionals attended!) covering all aspects of teaching with primary sources. I definitely learned a lot and I hope to implement some fresh ideas and new knowledge to benefit PAFA’s archives program.

I also had the chance to network with fellow (museum) archivists who shared new ideas and discussed their ongoing projects. One symposium included presentations by MoMa (digital portal for all exhibitions), Detroit Institute of Arts Museum (relocating their archives and restablishing a proper archival program), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (archiving email), and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum (digital oral histories).

Intern Spotlight – Leo Wong!

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Please welcome Leo Wong!

Leo will be working as the Project Archivist Intern for the recently acquired George Harding Sr. papers. He has a bachelors degree in history from St. Joseph’s University and a graduate degree in public history from La Salle University. Leo has volunteer experience at the Camden County Historical Society working on cataloging and inventorying projects for their audio collection. He has a strong desire to gain more experience on how to process archival collections.

The Center is happy to offer Leo a chance to take a lead on processing an archival collection that includes a variety of records (correspondence, photographs, diaries, sketches, and art) from start to finish. PAFA’s Director of Archives, Hoang Tran, will serve as his mentor during this internship.

Leo hopes to stay in the nonprofit/museum field and continue working on paper and object based collections.

Intern Spotlight – Mustafa Adil Özturk!

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Please welcome Mustafa Adil Öztürk (Adil)!

Adil is an MFA student here at PAFA. He has dreams of pursuing a PhD and wanted to gain more experience in the research process. What better way than to research PAFA’s rich history? The archives has a unique collection of student records (not protected by FERPA) that contain a wealth of information. If you examine the the student files separately, they provide rich biographical information and personal insights. Adil will be working on this inventory project for the summer to uncover some of the hidden stories of PAFA students.

Don’t forget to check out Adil’s Instagram to see some of his art!

New Acquisition! George Harding Sr. papers

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives is excited to announce the recent acquisition of George Harding Sr. papers. Harding (1882-1959), a former PAFA student and faculty member for nearly 40 years was a prominent American illustrator.

The collection includes photographs, correspondence, clippings, sketches, drawings, and diaries documenting his life as a student, war artist, illustrator and author.George Harding Sr. sketchPhotographsGeorge Harding Sr. diary, 1951

Museum Techniques – Conserving Recent Acquisitions

Contributed by: Liz McDermott, Conservation Technician

PAFA recently acquired a large collection of prints by American painter and printmaker Ellen Lanyon (1926-2013). Along with the artwork, the collection included over 300 3-D objects. The objects are quite unique because they were actually the subjects of Lanyon’s prints.

Before we can place the objects in long-term storage, there are a few activities that need to be done. All objects require cleaning, cataloging, and custom housing. Below are two examples of some the unique objects found in the collection.

Can you find these objects in the many works by Ellen Lanyon in our permanent collection? Let us know!

Staff Spotlight – IMLS Project Archivist Tess Amram

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Please welcome Tess Amram!

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As PAFA’s IMLS Project Archivist, Tess will be in charge of all aspects of digitizing, rehousing, and cataloging the archives’ Annual Exhibition photographs–over 2,000 images! The project is expected to be completed by October 2017. She will be working in the Center for the Study of the American Artist on the 5th floor of PAFA’s Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building.

Tess is currently a graduate student at Drexel University working towards her master’s degree in Library and Information Science. She is also an intern at the University of Pennsylvania’s Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center where she provides reference assistance in the teaching, research, and learning department. After graduation, she hopes to continue working in academic institutions, primarily as a cataloging and metadata librarian.

We are very grateful for the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services for making this possible.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.”

The Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives receives IMLS Grant!

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Exciting news! The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services‘ (IMLS) Museums for America program to digitize, catalog, re-house, and provide online access to its historic Annual Exhibition photograph collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Larger project goals include: This one-year project represents the archives’ inaugural efforts to digitize and provide online access to its collections. The award will not only fund the purchase of necessary equipment, but also hire and train project employees to assist in the digitization and cataloging of at least 2,000 photographs.

 

  • Establishing guidelines, workflows, best practices for digitizing archival collections.
  • Developing metadata standards.
  • Developing a digital archive.

We are thankful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the funds to help us reach our goals!

 

 

 


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.”

PAFA First!

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Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

For more than two centuries, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has played a pivotal role in defining the future of American art. To ensure that PAFA will continue to be a leading force in collecting and exhibiting American art, educating artists, and engaging the public, we have embarked on a transformative capital campaign: PAFA First: For the Future of American Art.

Increasing Our Commitment to Contemporary Art and Art-Making

The Campus Master Plan will increase PAFA’s art storage capacity by 80%, ensuring the successful care of our existing collection and accommodating new contemporary acquisitions made possible by the acquisition fund. The plan will also allow us to distribute the storage of our collections to the buildings where they are most likely to be exhibited.

Writing the Future of American Art History

You cannot teach the history of American art without PAFA. PAFA’s priceless collection of archives pieces together the invaluable back stories of our key leaders, alumni, teachers, and artists, many of whom are iconic figures in American art history. To make countless documents, sketchbooks, photographs, records, works of art on paper, and published volumes accessible to students and scholars of American art, as well as to the general public, we have established the Center for the Study of the American Artist.

The Center consolidates our unique archives, fine arts library, works on paper collection, and rare books on the refurbished fifth floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building and features a Works on Paper Study Room, conservation facility, and a climate-controlled storage vault.

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Read more about PAFA’s capital campaign here.

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