Category: Paige H.

Audiovisual Surveying & Access Research

Audiovisual Surveying & Access Research

Hello again, this week I did more work with AV surveying. It’s a really interesting project.  I’ve discovered that some boxes are heavier than others hence my work station being spilt between a desk and a cart.

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Versus

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Because this isn’t content I can actually show stuff in the archives. Like above is a 1/4″ reel-to-reel audio tape. Essentially I’ve been going through boxes and checking the conditions of these types of objects.

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This is what it normally looks like when I open the box. I have to open every one of these enclosures. And for each type of audiovisual material I have to fill out a different survey. It usually takes me 3 hours to complete 2 boxes…it’s a very slow process.

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But then of course I find what I’m looking for and I’ve suddenly helped the CCP create a list of priorities for preservation work. Above is an example of why you should never put tape on something you want to keep for a long time. Gross right?

My favorite part of this project is similar to why I like stocking stuff at work, it’s a big scavenger hunt!

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In addition to the AV survey, I had a meeting with the exhibit preparation staff to talk about how to safely mat my artwork for my upcoming artshow (Saturday, April 29, 5-8 pm, Studio ONE…shameless plug). After being in an institute where the safety of photographs is really important I could no longer stand to put rubber cement on my pieces (AKA why I waited until now to mat my pieces) so this conversation was super important to me and not something I expected of my internship. I knew this internship would give me more experience in research and conservation but I just wasn’t expecting it to help my practice of photography as well. So that’s just a cool bonus that I thought I would share! I now use the filmoplast P 90, which ironically is a type of tape but it’s passed several preservation standards so it’s good for matting.

I also got my workout in this week by going around collecting brochures on the various resources at the UA. This gave me examples on how to address the student body in my brochure for the CCP. It also made me aware that the UA is both a lot bigger yet a lot smaller than I thought. Confusing? Yes, yes it is.

 

 

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Audiovisual Surveying

Audiovisual Surveying

Hello again, I talked a little bit about my intro into the various types of materials under “audiovisual” last week but this week I able to apply that knowledge. I had to fill out a survey which included fields like who is filling out this survey, what archive is this, what box of that archive is this, what type of AV material is in said box, is it a common format, if so which one, how many AV materials are in this box, do you know the year of creation for these materials, and other notes regarding preservation. So why am I doing this? Well the CCP is hoping to eventually get funding and hire someone to work solely on digital preservation. This will include the audiovisual material in the archives so before they hire someone they need an inventory of all the AV material. While I’m not expected to finish it, the survey I am doing right now is elaborating on a preliminary inventory. They have identified which boxes have AV material in them but in many cases not what type or how many.

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Above is my rolling cart/desk for the week. Since I’m only old enough to barely remember VHS, Emily kindly provided this handy guide for AV identification. It’s been a lifesaver. So far, there are a lot of 1/2″ reel-to-reel tapes, U-matic, VHS, DVDs, and CDs. Most of the DVDs and CDs are viewing copies of VHS, reel-to-reel, or U-Matic tapes. This is done for preservation.

One of the best things to do for your AV and digital collections is to keep it in a moveable format. What does this mean? Well, for example, how many people (ignoring my parents and grandparents) still have and use a VHS player? It’s no longer a common format. DVD and CD players are more readily available so the best format would be DVD or CD. DVDs and CDs can also be played back without risk of damage. The more strain you put on a VHS the shorter its life will be. But that doesn’t mean throw out the original VHS! Preservation is about making objects and/or content accessible but you don’t want to lose the history that comes with the object itself. Like the difference between seeing Mona Lisa in person versus seeing an image of Mona Lisa in a magazine. Just because you’ve “seen” the Mona Lisa in a magazine doesn’t mean you’ve actually seen it, right?

Overall it’s been an interesting week. I went to my second college level photography class with Emily and actually saw an BASIS alumni in the class so that’s cool. Oh I was also filmed doing bits and pieces of my internship at the CCP. I can definitely say I prefer the other side of the camera.

 

 

Library Anxiety and Student Outreach

Library Anxiety and Student Outreach

This week I continued my work on the VOP project and finally have a good draft of an annotation. Hurray! The biggest challenge of this project is figuring out the names of artists. Thankfully google existed and I was able to make educated guesses at spelling to which google was like “no, this is the person you’re looking for” and that worked for most of them. Now I just have to have Emily, my advisor, review it and it’ll be complete.

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I also had some interesting readings this week about library anxiety among students. I thought it was most interesting that many university students, especially freshmen, are hesitant to ask for help from librarians. Many students still seem to believe the old stereotype of a old lady who shhh’s you. This isn’t the case. In both of these readings, librarians are actually concerned that students aren’t asking for help because a main component of their job is to facilitate research. So my fellow seniors when in your university’s library ask for help! It’ll make your life so much easier.

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Emily presented to a class this week about how to use the UA library to efficiently find resources and also how to find creditable photo resources online. While Emily and I had gone over this before it was a nice review. To make me practice Emily gives me the citations of the articles I need to read that week and then I have to find them in the library database. So far I’ve been using Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA) research database or JSTOR the most. In addition, I was introduced to audiovisual & digital preservation this week through AV compass. It has several short informative videos on it’s website. You can find it here: http://www.avcompass.bavc.org/learn

VOP, Provenance, & Conservation Wrap Up

VOP, Provenance, & Conservation Wrap Up

This week I started my annotation of an interview of Kate Albers for the Voices Of Photography archive. She’s currently a professor at the UA and I actually got to meet her when Jae gave a talk about W Eugene Smith’s unpublished Big Book for a mixed level history of photography class. Besides showing the Big Book to Dr Albers’ class, Jae and I went over what a conservation portfolio should include pre-program, post-program, and then professionally. It was really interesting and I realized that internships are so important in this field.

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This is my setup in the Volkerding Study Center. I promise the entire video doesn’t look like what’s on the screen above. One of the things I found most fascinating about Dr Albers is her variety of experience in both commercial and educational curation. She worked at the James Danziger Gallery in New York and gained experience with finding photographs with the intent to sell them. Then after moving from NY to LA for her Master’s program at UC Riverside, she started to work in the museum setting where the intent is for the public scholarship rather than profit. Hearing her talk about that transition was really interesting for me because for some reason I haven’t consciously  identified the difference in what a gallery’s versus a museum’s purpose might be and this just provoked another mindset for me.

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Also this week I attended this webinar meeting, which can be watched here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKJqINwZ–o, about how and why museums establish provenance. It was really interesting to watch as I have read about museum ethics before and provenance (a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality) was something I didn’t have enough knowledge about the interworking of archives to understand to the fullest extent. So webinar is about a in-progress program that would allow researchers to look at a standardized and interactive  provenance document. The idea is basically that you can search for a specific painting and get the list of owners with dates as well as a timeline using that information. With this kind of information, researchers could then piece together original collections. For example, let’s say that a church in Italy had a grand altarpiece way back when but now that altarpiece that was composed of 8 different pieces in split up into 8 different museums. This program would allow a researcher to see all 8 pieces together online instead of having to travel to 8 different museums and only getting to see one piece at a time. It’s an in progress concept…there’s a lot of coding involved which I don’t understand at all but it’s still pretty cool. One of the questions asked in the Q&A section that I found interesting addressed how difficult it would be to get institutions to release their provenance data to the public essentially. This is especially relevant in our era because museum ethics are becoming more and more under watch. For example, the art that was stolen by the Nazis from Jewish collectors. Shouldn’t that be returned? But if there is no living relative, who owns it? Or in terms of archaeological materials before regulations were put in place, can museums claim ownership over pottery that was looted from an excavation site? The answer is complicated. So you can get a sense of the debatable pros and cons of this program required provenance data and how museums might be hesitate to participate.

 

In other news, this was my last week with Jae before she started her new position as the Director at the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester, NY. I wish her the best of luck!

 

Archives Research and Exposed Symposium

Archives Research and Exposed Symposium

This week I continued my research using the Louise Dahl-Wolfe archive, started my journey with the Voices of Photography project, and attended Exposed: Technical Art History Symposium. 

On Tuesday morning, I meet with Harold and he gave me an overview of the Voices of Photography history and ongoing project. During this last month, it’s my goal to complete at least one annotation that will be added to the VOP binder in the Laura Volkerding Study Center. I’m really excited to be working on this project and will start next week once I choose a video.

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Louise Dahl-Wolfe had a prominent career in fashion photography as a staff photographer at Harper’s Bazaar during the 1930-50s. For my research, I ended up tracking her development of fashion poses and how this portrayed the idea of the “active, modern woman” that was growing to prominence during that time. Like many of her contemporaries, Dahl-Wolfe had her models pose in a very angular fashion. For example, the model’s arms are always in some way bent. Most of the articles I read argued that Dahl-Wolfe’s style was actual very laid back compared to her contemporaries. I can see this argument in the fact that she seemed to favor the outdoors rather than the studio and also in the content being mostly travel/activewear. I wish I could post some of the fascinating things in the Louise Dahl-Wolfe archive but copyright so I’ll share a photo of the 7 boxes I went through during this project instead 🙂

A random note: I know enough Spanish to be able to read an article in Americana about Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Yay!

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Today, I attended Exposed: Technical Art History Symposium which hosted talks by 12 different professionals all working in some way towards furthering our understanding of art history, techniques, and materials. This symposium goes hand in hand with a current exhibit entitled Exposed: The Art and Science of Conservation at UAMA (http://artmuseum.arizona.edu/events/event/exposed-art-science-conservation). It was a really fascinating series of talks. I found “Hidden Hazards in Museum Collections” presented by Nancy Odegaard really interesting because it was an overview of toxic materials that are potentially present in the collections and the importance of identifying them.

Using the Archives and hinging

Using the Archives and hinging

Hello BTN seniors, once again I find myself in a coffee shop writing about my week while I sip on a grande iced caramel macchiato. So much fun…but let’s get to the actually interesting parts of my week. The CCP was really hectic this week as I started my transition from the conservation lab to the archives. I feel like I’ve started to adopt the mindset of many of my coworkers that allows you to be thinking about 20 different things at one time. I started my CCP Photographer Project, still working on formatting the wet book recovery plan for the collections emergency plan (but almost done), took meeting notes for a grant brainstorm session, practiced hinging a piece from the study collection, and that’s just my hectic yet enjoyable weekly snapshot.

Tuesday, March 14:

FullSizeRender.jpgHappy Pi(e) Day! After eating too much pie, I officially started my time in the archives with Emily, the arts librarian. In order to really understand the archive, I’ve been tasked with a CCP Photographer Project. I’m going to be researching Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who was a fashion photographer from Harper’s Bazar magazine from 1936-58. We started by having a reference meeting where Emily introduced the various research tools on the CCP website that helps researchers determine what they want to look at before they make a trip to the Laura Volkerding Study Center. This included how to search Louise Dahl-Wolfe materials with a finding aid, which can be found here http://www.creativephotography.org/files/finding-aid-pdfs/ag76_dahlwolfe.pdf if you’re interested.

After our reference meeting, we went to another meeting. This was for the CLIR grant that would go to the digitalization of oral histories at the CCP if they receive it. It was really interesting because the focus was how the digitalized material can appeal to people outside of the photography community. I’ve never really thought about it funding this way (I’ve never needed to either) but it makes since that you want to fund something that will be made available to a wide range of people rather than a single community. So we expanded it from just photographic categories to how the university departments could use the archives. For example, people researching environmental policy might be interested in Ansel Adams advocacy for the National Park Service and the CCP has an Ansel Adams archive that, despite what most people think, is more than photographic materials. It was a very informative meeting and I found it really interesting.

Wednesday, March 15:

I meet Harold Jones, the founding director of the CCP and coordinator of the Voices of Photography (VOP) oral history project. He also started the photography program at the UA. That was really cool and I’ll be working with him starting next week in addition to my conservation/archives work. I’m going to learn how he annotates so the Voices of Photography and other interviews are more accessible for researchers. It’s going to be a interesting project for sure!

After meeting with Harold briefly, Jae and I went to the lab and started working on various projects. I really like that she trusts my ability to work independently and will give me several tasks that I can do throughout the day. For today, I worked on hinging a study collection piece, formatting the wet book recovery plan, reviewed annotations that a previous intern did for Harold’s VOP project, looked through the Louise Dahl-Wolfe finding aid, and we reviewed how I can make a better enclosure for the daguerreotypes that I was working on last week.

Hinging:

What’s cool about hinging is that it’s a temporary yet sturdy way to secure images without damaging them. The hinges have weak pull strength upward so they come right off when the display comes down with no residue left behind.

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After many attempts, I finally cut down the hinges correctly.

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The hinges attach on the top and bottom side corners. When mounted, a slit will be cut into the mount board and the hinge will slid through, be secured, and then the excess will be cut off. It gives the appearance of floating when on display rather than matted.FullSizeRender 3.jpgFullSizeRender 2.jpg

Thursday, March 16:

Today I spent most of my time in the Volkerding Study Center looking at Louise Dahl-Wolfe negatives and contact prints. They were so cool! I unfortunately can’t publish any photos of them because of copyright but if you’re interested in some of her prints, here is the link to the CCP’s online gallery: http://ccp-emuseum.catnet.arizona.edu/view/objects/asimages/search@?t:state:flow=54b588e6-094b-4462-afa3-86cd01840aca. It’s a cool feature on the CCP website and you can always look at other photographer’s work.

 

And that was my week 🙂

Sorting & Rehousing the Study Collection

Sorting & Rehousing the Study Collection

This week, one of the graduate interns and I started to sort through the study collection materials. It was nice to review process identification and be able to look at more examples. For this project (which most likely won’t be completed in the time of my internship), we are tasked with sorting by process, rehousing, and then creating a finding aid.

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In addition to sorting, I learnt how to make an individual archival enclosure. I focused on the collection of daguerreotypes, which are very early photos. Of course, I didn’t get very far because making these enclosures is hard when you haven’t done it before.

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The tools I used included: a ruler, box cutter, bone folder (helps makes creases), scissors, a self-healing mat, and card stock.

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First try, so close…

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Second try: better but still not quite there…at least it closed this time?

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I was also introduced into the archives section of my internship this week. I again attended an OLLI lecture this week. This time it was about the research services that the CCP provides. Emily, the CCP Librarian, is my co-advisor and she gave me an introduction to how one becomes an arts librarian. I’m excited to continue the study collection project and start my own internal CCP Photographer Project next week.

Hinges, CERG, & Lectures

Hinges, CERG, & Lectures

This week was interesting mostly because I got to see the real hectic work pace at the CCP. There were a lot of meetings and running around. I don’t think I really stayed in the lab for more than an hour at a time but it was fun.

Jae and I prepared hinges for a Polaroid show coming up. Hinges act as a temporary yet secure way to display an object. A slit will be cut in the mount board and the hinge’s nonstick side will slide through and be taped to the back. Normally these hinges are made of Japanese paper with dried Lascaux Acrylic adhesive.

How to make hinges

Step 1: Cut 6 12×3-in strips of plastic. Use one strip to make an adhesive template by cutting out a 10x 1 strip from the middle.

Step 2: Take one strip of plastic, the template, a paintbrush, and the Lascaux Acrylic adhesive. Line up your template and stir your adhesive.

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Step 3: In the fume hood, place the template on top of the strip and paint a coat of adhesive on as evenly as possible in one direction. This create a neat block of adhesive.IMG_0875.JPGStep 4: Remove the template and grab a strip of Japanese paper. Carefully box it up and let the paper curl onto the adhesive. Press around the block of adhesive but not down. If you press down, it will dry and be sticky on both sides.

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Collections Emergency Response Group (CERG) Meeting:

This meeting was a follow up for last week’s Mock Water Collection Emergency Response exercise. We discussed the pros and cons of protective layers, potential problem areas for the CCP, and suggested some other emergency exercises for future meetings. One of the suggestions was to take an archival box full of sample teaching materials and push it off a shelf to simulate something falling. Another was fire extinguisher training and other fire safety programs through the UA.

OLLI-UA Lecture:

I attended a lecture for 55+ at Pima County Community College Green Valley. Jae was the presenter so it’s not as strange as it sounds. She split the lecture time into two presentations. The first was an introduction to art conservation and the second was about caring for family photos.

In terms of caring for family photos, things to look for include acid-free, archival, lignin-free, passes the Photographic activity test (PAT), and then plastics. Beware acid-free and archival! Acid-free is referring to the pH when it comes off of the assembly line but does not guarantee that as it ages. Archival can mean different things for different manufactures and industries.

This weekend is the UA library’s Community Digitization Day. Each person can bring up to 10 images and Jae will be presenting throughout the day. It’s also free and open to the public. Here’s the event link: http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/events/community-digitization-day

Mock Collection Emergency Response

Mock Collection Emergency Response

This week I was given the opportunity to observe and participate in a mock collection water emergency response. I learnt that there are three general steps to collection emergencies: Discovery, Response, and Recovery. We focused on the response because that’s really what the majority of the team, which is composed of several archivists, exhibit preparers, and an operations manager, is qualified to do. Response focuses on stabilizing the condition of the materials, i.e. moving them, drying them out, and determining what can and should be keep if severely damaged. Recovery would be under the discretion of a conservator, which would be Jae’s role in case of emergency.

Collection Emergency Response Kit:

  • dishpans
  • flashlight
  • plastic erasers
  • writing pad
  • cooking twine
  • clothespins
  • duct tape
  • pre-sharpened pencils
  • scissors
  • 100% cotton towels
  • tabletop fan
  • three rolls of plastic cover sheets

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Preparation:

For this meeting, Jae and I had to recreate expendable versions of the archives and fine prints. We took some samples from the study collection, which are solely teaching materials, and borrowed 2 types of archive boxes, a fine print and a bankers box.

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Jae and I created the disaster around 4:30 pm on Monday for the response team to “discover” the next morning at 10 am. We created three scenarios: 1. we poured 2L on a single point of the bankers box as if a leak in the roof was hitting one corner, 2. we poured 1L of water across the surface of the stack of mounted fine prints as if a pipe had bursted over them, and 3.  we poured about 1.5-2L of water on the cover of the fine print archival box.

Scenario 1: The Bankers Box

Bankers boxes are usually labeled on the outside with no other identification about what is inside and can hold a variety of things including folders, binders, prints. I recreated this by organizing several folders full of study/expendable materials. I tried to make it so each folder had some variation of silver gelatin prints, film, and contact sheets.We also included 2 books and a binder full of Kodachrome film.

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To make each scenario realistic, we split into the most logical teams. The photos above show three archivists looking at the damage to this archival box. Two of them are going through it and the third is the documenting the process. For each object they pull out, it must be recorded. Even if they decide to throw something out, it must be accounted for.

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It was interesting to watch these professionals figure out the best way to utilize their space while also keeping track of each object. As seen above in the photo, the materials quickly took over all available space. This is one of the reasons during response and recovery, professionals have to decide if something is worth saving. For example, if a book is completely soaked but you found a another copy in the CCP Volkerding Study Center or a digital version online, it doesn’t make sense to put time and effort into saving that book when there are other rare objects that also need to be cared for. Now if that book was annotated by Ansel Adams, we have a different story because now it is rare and arguably important for cultural heritage.

Scenario 2: Exposed Mounted Fine Prints

IMG_0243.JPGThis scenario is most likely to happen in exhibition prep so our two exhibit preparers (not sure of the official title by the way) were assigned this task. In this photo, we can see that the interleaving has already started to distort immediately after having water pour on it.

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We could see the tide lines from the water on the mount and several of the prints also had tide lines running across their surface. It’s my understanding that it is possible to rewet a mount board and push the tide lines back but you run the risk of making it worse. Because they were still damp, we put them out to dry on craft paper while we discussed the potential recovery options. At this point, the best option seemed to be to stabilize the image by removing it from the mount board as soon as possible. Like in the book example for scenario 1, part of response is to decide what to keep and what to throw out. Some questions to ask before throwing out mount boards include: Is it original? Are there any significant markings or comments from the artist? Any other unique information that should be documented?

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The primary response is to let everything air dry. Due to lack of time and personnel, institutions may have to freeze objects until they are able to deal with them. Shown above, is an image being placed on a fluorescent light diffuser panel. Jae recommends this in order to elevate the image so that air can circulate it and make it dry quicker and evenly.

Scenario 3: Fine Print Archival Box

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This archive box is made of sturdy paper and has metal corners. It is designed to house fine prints that are mounted and matted. It held up fairly well to water and the prints inside were in much better condition than the exposed fine prints.

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Again, we see that two people are working with the materials and the third is prepared to document. For the two prints being handled, the plastic sleeving can be both protection and can facilitate damage. While water can roll off the sleeving, it can also get caught in it. This changes the relative humidity and also prevents the image from drying so the best option was to remove it.

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Overall, the best solution for a water emergency to respond quickly and air dry as much as you can. Using light diffusers, vinyl mesh, or bakers racks, you can get really creative on how you dry these materials.

Preventative Conservation through Environmental Monitoring

Preventative Conservation through Environmental Monitoring

Why is environmental monitoring important? Temperature and Relative humidity have a big influence over the life of a photography. For example, if the storage area is cold that decreases the rate of decay. Or if the RH is high the materials, like gelatin, will expand or destabilize. There’s also the risks of mold growth, pollutants reacting, hydrolysis, and dyes fading. Because all of these things can severely damage the collections and archives, we don’t want too much fluctuation in temperature and RH.

It would seem the simple solution would be to strictly adhere to what kind of environment the objects need, but what’s the purpose of preservation if no one will ever see it because it stays in a freezer. Part of a conservator’s job is to find a balance between preservation and accessibility.

Have you ever noticed that museum lighting can be really dim? Most likely that was a recommendation from a conservator to ensure preservation. Conservators have to assess the photographs that the curator wants to display and decide if they need treatment, how close can the light source be, what illuminance the photo can handle, and how they should be hung (sink mat, hinged, etc). Because light is cumulative, the photograph can only be exposed to a light source for so long before light starts to damage it. To increase the length of the photo’s ability to stay on display, conservators can set the illuminance lower than what might be pleasing to the gallery goer’s eye. As a result, the photograph is both stabile and accessible to the public.

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This is all stuff that I am not qualified to make assessments for (yet) so my job this week was to collect the environment data from several places in the CCP. It was kind of like a scavenger hunt. I had to find the data loggers in each space, like the archive vaults and gallery. These HOBO data loggers collect information on temperature and relative humidity every 15 minutes. The temp/RH reader on the far right in the image above is what would be used for spot checks in a microenvironment, like exhibit cases. Some places, like exhibition prep and the Laura Volkerding Study Center, I didn’t expect to have to be monitored but it makes sense. Anywhere an object is going needs to meet certain requirements for its protection otherwise it could be damaged.

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Using the HOBO data shuttle, I downloaded 4 months worth of data from each data logger. Jae taught me how to use HOBOware and eClimateNotebook to process and present data from the data loggers. I learnt that environmental monitoring is not only good for the CCP’s own collection and archives, but is also required by many museums before they loan their objects. Which is why I used eClimateNotebook. ECN allowed me to take the data from the HOBO system and make it into a pdf with separate graphs for temperature and RH, a data point table, and separate graphs for the percentage of time the temp. and RH were within range of their ideal. This format is less intimidating and a lot cleaner looking than HOBOware.

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Lastly, I also learnt about the processes to make wheat paste and gelatin for treatment. The basic recipe for wheat paste is deionized water with Zen Shofu Wheat starch, heated and mixed constantly in a double boiler. For gelatin, the gelatin crystals should soak in deionized water until they lose their flat edges and become rounded. Then heat them to make them burst and, like wheat paste, keep mixing until it becomes the consistency needed. It was kind of like watching a cooking show but in a lab.