(Spring 2018) This focus issue of the journal examines case studies from the field of photographic preservation and collections management. Guest Editor, Olivia Arnone, provides a history and context for the eponymous program based at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY. Six amply-illustrated articles addressing this area of research and experience follow.
Terri Holtze, Rachel I. Howard, Randy Kuehn, Rebecca Pattillo, and Elizabeth Reilly tell the story of The Caufield & Shook Collection. Through sheer diligence, persistence, ingenuity, and commitment to the profession—as well as the collection and its long-term preservation—the archivists recovered lost histories of the collection to build out institutional narrative and, likewise, developed robust a digitization workflow accompanied by best practices for future processing and digitization of large photographic collections.
Tasha Lutek of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) examines the challenges of exhibiting, storing, crating, and traveling as well as cataloging, housing, and documenting a multi-piece installation of contemporary art, Lele Saveri’s The Newsstand (2013). In her accounts of museum installations at MoMA and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Lutek’s case study explores how imaging played an essential role in each of these aspects of preservation, access, and exhibition of the work.
Stephanie Becker asks critical questions about cataloging, digitizing, and re-housing methods as a way of guiding decisions on how to stabilize items in fragile condition while allowing access to them. Her case study examines vernacular albums by Thomas A. Nelson in the collection of George Eastman Museum which are comparable to many such items in individual and institutional collections worldwide.
Daniel J. Menzo recounts a graduate internship experience at Greater Patchogue Historical Society (New York) which involved rehousing, minimally cleaning, and digitizing a subset of the entirety of 2000 glass-plate negatives. Menzo offers perspective on how graduate work informs actual internship and professional work and pays heed to the benefit of a thoughtful approach in setting up a system before delving in without thinking through protocols.
Erin Fisher introduces us a chronological guide to Kodak photographic paper surface characteristics, created by the author after careful examination of an extensive number of Kodak data books, manuals, and manufacturing records in the collections of three Rochester, NY-based institutions. The guide aims to help researchers, photography archivists, conservators, or anyone else interested in Kodak history, gain access to a better understanding of photographic paper produced by Kodak from 1930-1955 while also serving qualitative and interpretive aims relative to larger social and cultural aims, including the materiality as well as the aesthetics of photography.
Finally, Ingrid Forster considers the potential of AR for photographic collections in museums and archives by looking at digital tools, their use in aiding our understanding of photographs as both object and image, and the implications and limitations of such technologies.