Annual Meeting

Western Association for Art Conservation

Annual Meeting & Conference

San Francisco, California

Angels Project

Sep 8-12, 2014

Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA), San Francisco, CA
September 8, 2014
9 am - 5 pm

To participate, add Angel's Project to your meeting registration

WAAC Coordinators: Victoria Binder, Peng-Peng Wang and Gawain Weaver

In 2014, the WAAC Angels Project will tackle collections care and rehousing projects at the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) in San Francisco, CA. Founded in 1963, the CHSA is a non-profit organization serving one of the oldest Chinese communities in the United States with a mission "to promote the contribution that the Chinese living in this country have made to their adopted land, the United States of America." The CHSA sponsors a broad range of community programs and maintains a museum with a large permanent exhibition space showcasing the Chinese experience in America. The CHSA is housed in the 1932 YWCA building, a Designated City Landmark located in historic Chinatown. Designed by noted California architect Julia Morgan, the building was acquired by the CHSA in 1996 and renovated for museum use in 2001.

The CHSA collection contains over 15,000 items, including archives, costumes, decorative arts, and over 5,000 photographs documenting businesses, community gatherings, and events in San Francisco's Chinatown and in other Chinese-American communities including New York City and Los Angeles. Included among these photographs are several groups of unique glass plate negatives from the late 19th century and early 20th century. These glass negatives are currently stored in a range of enclosures, including 'plastic' sleeves of unidentified synthetics which may deteriorate over time and emit harmful chemicals. situation for these thin glass sheets, putting them at a high risk of breakage.

The primary focus of the Angels Project will be to examine and stabilize this collection of early photographs, and rehouse them in suitable sink-mount enclosures that are properly oriented, boxed, and labelled. A select group of approximately 15 glass slides have been identified as higher priority for exhibition, and in need of digitizing for better access to researchers.

In addition to early glass plate negatives, the CHSA has other photograph formats needing urgent attention. A small group of scrapbook albums and 20th-century silver gelatin prints on paper were damaged in a fire (prior to acquisition) and are highly unstable. They hold important and unique information about Chinese-American life in the first half of the 20th century, and it would greatly enhance the CHSA collection if (they could be stabilized and made accessible to scholars and educators.)

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