Art, Conservation, and the World Wide Web
Robert Futernick

The Universal Preservation Format for Digital Archives: 1st Year Progress
Thom Shepard

IBM's Experience Imaging Works of Art
Fred Mintzer

Document Handling for Preservation Scanning
Steve Chapman

Humidification, Flattening and Mending of Iris Ink-Jet Prints
Andrew Robb

The Media Alliance Survey of Video Collections
Paul Messier

Documenting Video Image Recovery and Restoration
Jim Lindner

Electronic Media Special Interest Group's Second Session

Arlington, Virginia
Saturday, June 6, 1998

H o m e  |  M e e t i n g s  |  L i n k s & R e s o u r c e s

Art, Conservation, and the World Wide Web

Robert Futernick

Chairman of Conservation, Director of Collections Imaging

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Lincoln Park, San Francisco, CA 94121

Recent advances in technology afford new opportunities for cultural institutions. Breakthrough imaging solutions, higher capacity computer storage, powerful database programs, and the Internet work together to provide a level of access to collections not previously possible. Because of a strong aesthetic sensibility and technical background, the conservator may be uniquely positioned and qualified to guide the institution toward a policy of preservation and access. In fact, conservation leadership can yield new opportunities for collection care while meeting other institutional goals. This talk describes the development and implementation of a comprehensive collection management program that combines conservation information and art history with digital images and web access for a large (110,000-item) collection of art.

The Universal Preservation Format for Digital Archives: 1st Year Progress

Thom Shepard

UPF Project Coordinator


125 Western Avenue, Boston, MA 02134

Sponsored by the WGBH Educational Foundation and funded in part by a grant (97-029) from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives, the Universal Preservation Format initiative advocates a platform-independent format for the long-term storage of electronically generated media. Our project's central goal is to work with representatives from standards organizations, hardware and software companies, museums, academic institutions, archives and library science communities to produce and publish a Recommended Practices document.

On September 22, 1997, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers assigned the UPF an official Study Group (ST13.14). Titled Requirements for a Universal Preservation Format and chaired by Dave MacCarn, Chief Technologist at WGBH and the architect of the UPF, the group first met to establish an agenda and to hash out a statement of objectives. On December 9th, Dave MacCarn and I attended the first SMPTE work-study forum for both archivists and engineers. We reported on feedback from various conferences where we presented UPF concepts and from user surveys. We learned that many institutions with analog collections/ archives are seeking clear technical standards before they migrate to new storage technologies. A preservation framework must be robust, allowing for certain types of metadata to be embedded with the media.

Digital Imaging of Art: Some IBM Experiences

Fred Mintzer

Manager, Image Library Applications

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

P.O. Box 218, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

Through partnerships to build digital libraries for the Andrew Wyeth collection, the National Gallery of Art (U.S.A.), the Vatican Library, the Hermitage, and other cultural institutions, IBM has accumulated a significant body of experience on digitally imaging art collections. Although each collection is truly unique, some shared challenges have emerged.

In this talk, the speaker will discuss some of those experiences and the issues they have uncovered, which include:

  • advantages of digital imaging for some specific situations,
  • methods for achieving high color fidelity,
  • protecting the original materials during capture, and
  • increasing capture volume.

Document Handling in Preservation Scanning

Steve Chapman

Preservation Librarian for Digital Initiatives

Preservation Center, Harvard University Library

Holyoke Center 821, Cambridge, MA 02138

This talk will outline issues related to adapting flatbed and book scanners for preservation scanning. When scanning flat paper and bound materials, document handling is as important as image quality and production. The speaker will describe Harvard's efforts to negotiate with scanning manufacturers to modify existing scanners for library applications. He will also review the handling guidelines that have been specified and followed in several relatively large-scale scanning projects.

Humidification, Flattening and Mending of IRIS Ink-Jet Prints

Andrew Robb


Conservation of Photographs

922 N. Ivy St, #2, Arlington, VA 22201

The ink sets used to make IRIS ink jet prints are known to be sensitive to moisture. Typical treatments involving moisture include humidification, flattening and mending with wheat starch paste and Japanese paper. These treatments were conducted on IRIS ink jet prints supplied by artists currently using the medium. The treatment outcomes will be compared and discussed.

Media Alliance Survey of Video Collections

Paul Messier, Conservator

Boston Art Conservation

60 Oak Square Avenue, Boston, MA 02135

Over the course of several days in July and August 1997, a preservation survey was conducted at six video and media arts collections in New York State. The shared characteristic among these sites is that their collections are stored almost exclusively on magnetic tape, a seriously flawed storage medium with preservation problems emerging in as little as ten years (depending on storage conditions and other factors). The survey presented a series of unique challenges as an attempt was made to apply traditional conservation survey protocols to collections of machine-readable media.

The most significant challenge to conventional survey practice was the fact that almost no direct assessment of video image quality / deterioration was made. This limitation is the result of many factors (which will be examined in the talk) and will likely emerge as a characteristic of future surveys of media arts collections. Aside from the disconcerting reality of conducting an art conservation survey without the ability to actually see the art, many points emerged where contemporary art conservation practice is directly applicable to machine-readable media, including issues regarding collections management, storage environment, etc. Further, the project resulted in numerous avenues by which the media arts field as represented by curators, collectors and artists can help refine and implement future conservation endeavors. Through this type of engagement, the professional practice of media arts conservation will gradually develop, thereby attracting the resources and expertise required to preserve the unique cultural assets like those examined at the six survey sites. This project was developed and administered through the Media Alliance and was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Heritage and Preservation Program.

Documenting Magnetic Media Restoration

Jim Lindner, President


450 West 31st Street - 4th Floor - New York, NY 10001

Vidipax has developed a documentation system for it's magnetic media restoration process. The process has been used in actual production for more than 5 years with over 1000 jobs and tens of thousands of hours of media restored. This presentation will show the documentation process that is used as well as explaining some of the aspects of magnetic media restoration. We hope to solicit input from AIC members on our documentation process as well as enlightening attendees about some of the unique aspects of magnetic media restoration.

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