As America’s first fine art school, we are proud to provide students and artists an intense immersion in art-making anchored in a rich heritage of artistic achievement. It is without question, PAFA provides a fine arts education unlike any other.
Photographs in this collection provide a glimpse at the studio arts training in painting, illustration, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and of course, PAFA’s long-standing tradition of working from the figure. Photographs also provide evidence of our vibrant community of artists, curators, critics and teachers who create complex, diverse and provocative work and provide inspiration and stimulus for individual expression.
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!
Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives, and Barbara Katus, Manager of Imaging Services
Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was an English photographer who is considered the father of motion picture because of his photographic studies of animal motion.His pivotal work in the development and evolution of motion picture began in 1872. Muybridge was hired by Leland Stanford, the California governor and founder of Stanford University, to settle a debate regarding whether a horse had all its hooves off the ground simultaneously or not. For six years, Muybridge used photography to figure out the answer to the question. All his work led to success in 1878 when he setup 12 cameras along a racetrack to photograph a galloping horse. The photographs proved that there is a point when no hooves touch the ground during the horse’s stride.
Muybridge’s connection to PAFA began when PAFA’s board member Fairman Rogers and art faculty member Thomas Eakins corresponded with Muybridge about his Stanford photograph project. In 1883, Rogers invited Muybridge to give a lecture at the Academy. On February 12, 1883, Muybridge lectured on The Romance and Realities of Animal Locomotion, illustrated by the Zoopraxiscope at PAFA. Muybridge eventually relocated to Philadelphia and continued his work on his landmark study on animal locomotion.
Under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, Muybridge eventually published 12 volumes that illustrated animal locomotion in 781 plates. Fairman Rogers who was an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the School of Veterinary Medicine, professor of civil engineering acquired a set of Muybridge’s 12 volumes. In 1887, Rogers donated the volumes to PAFA’s library.
128 years after Rogers’ donation, the volumes required much needed conservation to be usable again. PAFA was fortunate enough to receive grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the conservation of all 12 volumes. After conservation, the volumes were all digitized in-house. The volumes are now freely accessible online.
To view all 12 volumes, please visit PAFA’s Digital Archives here.
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.