Andrew Weymouth, a graduate student in the University of Washington’s MLIS program, is the recipient of the VRA Foundation’s Internship Award. He will receive $3,000 to work a minimum of 200 hours on a project for the Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room. Andrew’s work will involve the organization, description, and digitization of selected photographic negatives and prints from the vast Richards Photography Studio Collection, which was acquired by the library in 1989. This collection, spanning 1917 through 1980, documents social and economic shifts in Washington State’s South Puget Sound region. The images depict a wide range of underrepresented Washington communities and significant local and national historic events, including the Puyallup Indian community and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The goal of this project is to digitize, describe, and provide free online public access to previously unseen, vulnerable materials that highlight the cultural diversity of this region and give expression to groups whose perspectives may not have been sufficiently recognized in the historical record. The project will contribute to the preservation of a vital visual resource for the city of Tacoma and Washington State, as well as provide insights into wider American historical movements through the lens of a single photographic studio that was continually active for over 60 years.
The Foundation felt that Andrew would be uniquely qualified to complete this important work for the Tacoma Public Library. With his background as a media archivist and his experience halfway through the Master of Library and Information Science program, Andrew has the necessary skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm to undertake this project to preserve and provide access to a remarkable collection, only a fraction of which has been digitized. Building upon his previous experience with oral history and digital archives projects in the state of Washington, Andrew is in a strong position to complete this internship successfully, attaining his professional goals in audiovisual archiving while contributing to a work of real cultural significance.
Miriam Sappington, of Kailua, Hawaii, is the recipient of the VRA Foundation’s Internship Award. She will receive $3,000 to work a minimum of 200 hours in the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Miriam’s work will focus on creating an online catalogue raisonne of Juliette May Fraser, a talented and influential artist in Hawai’i during the early 20th century. Prints and photographs from the artist will be scanned and linked to appropriate metadata from the artist’s own records using catalog management software, and then incorporated into an online image gallery. In this way Miriam aims to facilitate accessibility between cultural collections and community, bringing awareness to multiple narratives and cultivate a shared connection to place.
The Foundation felt the internship was a perfect match for the exact stage of Miriam’s professional journey. Recently accepted into the Library and Information Sciences Graduate program, Miriam’s proposed project for the University of Hawai’i at Manoa will be a valuable asset for scholars, most especially when the difficulty of on site research is considered, as well an invaluable opportunity for her to put to use key skills and practices associated with the Visual Resources profession.
Kristine Clark, recipient of a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Arizona State University, to work with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art on image tagging and composing catalog descriptions.
Kristine states that this project will “bridge the gap between accessible and available” on the museum’s website. Approximately half of SMoCA’s collection of nearly 2,000 objects have been photographed and are available for online viewing. However, one can currently only browse by object type; there are no other means to search for works in the collection. Kristine’s work will focus on image tagging and composing catalog descriptions. She will establish a methodology for creating these tags, including a lexicon of controlled vocabulary terms, which others will be able to apply into the future. If time allows, she will also assist with photographing the remainder of the collection.
Carrie Tovar, Registrar and supervisor for this project, shared that Kristine’s project will allow SMoCA’s online collection to reach an even greater audience, including those who are financially or physically unable to visit in person. She notes that SMoCA is the only museum in Arizona dedicated to contemporary art, architecture, and design, and that its mission embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion. Kristine will explore a culturally sensitive approach to image tagging that is aligned with these organizational values.
Adelaide McComb, graduate student in Curatorial Studies and Nonprofit Management at the University of Louisville, to create a database for the new Lakota Dream Museum and Monument that captures the historical, visual, and culturally significant aspects of the museum’s artifacts.
Adelaide writes, “As I began my graduate program at the University of Louisville, I gravitated towards contemporary Indigenous works, particularly by Canadian and US American Plains Indians. In order to contextualize my understanding, I began to seek out museums that could use my skills to develop capacity and sustainability. It was clear to me from the onset that the Lakota Dream Museum would be the most beneficial experience for my development; I would be able to assist in the administrative aspect of opening a museum, the curatorial aspect of creating exhibitions from the ground up, develop the collections database, and learn about the acquisition process. I felt this experience would allow me to apply my previous skills and implement what I had learned through research and coursework. I was wrong.
What I gained was so much more than contextualized understanding of Indigenous art. My experience with the Lakota Dream Museum provided more knowledge than I possibly could have expected. It was at once one of the most humbling and enlightening experiences of my life, and fundamentally shifted my understanding of the purpose and mission of Indigenous museums, and the theory behind museum decolonization. I am eternally grateful to the VRA Foundation for making this possible for me.”
Maria Nuccilli, MLIS student at Wayne State University, to assess and create a digitization plan for the Scarab Club’s collection of images and other materials relating to Detroit’s cultural heritage, and create an interactive virtual exhibition to showcase collection highlights.
Maria writes: “Because of my position as intern, the Scarab Club was able to build a partnership with the Digital Media Projects Lab at Wayne State University’s School of Information Sciences, whose digitization tools and guidance I relied on during my work.
As a VRAF intern, I gained first-hand experience with important technology, like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Google Drive, Omeka, and within Omeka, had the opportunity to utilize my CSS skills. I was lucky to be responsible for the majority of decisions and planning surrounding the project. This involved evaluating material to digitize and selecting the best tools and workflows to use, including planning for the integration of Omeka with the Scarab Club’s current WordPress site.
Ultimately, the funding of this project resulted not only in my own resume-building experience, but more importantly, an enhanced research opportunity for scholars of Detroit history and art that would have gone unnoticed without financial support.”
Rebecca Pattillo, recent recipient of a dual MA in history and MLIS from Indianapolis University, Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI), to conduct work on the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Clowes Fund Collection of Old Masters, in support of a forthcoming digital publication.
The successful creation of metadata for 7,000+ conservation images, the implementation of updated workflows for future imaging and metadata application, and integration into the museum’s DAM would not have been possible without the generous funding from the Kress Foundation. The impact of the VRAF Internship is far greater than just one capsule project and I am thrilled to know that I had a large part in improving The Indianapolis Museum of Art Conservation department’s digital imaging practices in updating their workflows to follow current best practices. The workflows established will continue to be used by Conservation staff following my departure, improving the efficiency and documentation of conservation to preserve the museum’s most precious and important works of art.
The professional development this project provided far exceeded my expectations. The VRAF Internship has given me the opportunity to expand my skills in visual resource management, and improve my mastery of metadata, controlled vocabularies, and authorities, particularly within DAMs. Working across multiple departments increased my understanding of cross-departmental needs and how to tailor language for multiple levels of familiarity with metadata, resource management, and digital asset management. Further, it gave me added confidence of my knowledge of visual resource management and ability to train and instruct others. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to represent the VRAF, Kress Foundation, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art as the recipient of this prestigious internship.”
Meghan McGowan, MLIS and MA history candidate, Wayne State University, to digitize and catalog photographic materials in the Research Library and Archives of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Megan writes, “The Visual Resources Foundation Internship award granted me the opportunity to work in a prestigious institution that I otherwise would not have had. Much of my experience has been rooted in manuscript collections and digitally born materials and I had not worked with photographs. For my placement, I decided to work for the Detroit Institute of Arts as I wanted to positively contribute to Detroit. Since accepting the position, I have digitized photographs that have largely consisted of exhibition images from as early as museum’s launch in the 1890s to exhibitions in the 1990s. Additionally, I have digitized photographs of notable events and artists working on their installments, including a photograph of Diego Rivera painting the mural in the DIA with Frida Kahlo at his side. Recently, I even stumbled upon photographs someone took in the 1900s and 1910s of staples of Detroit’s heritage, including Belle Isle.
This project fostered my passion for visual archival resources. Without this award, I would not have had the opportunity to spearhead this project alongside the director of the DIA’s research library. The images would have remained vaulted until she was able to gather resources to begin the digitization process and I am honored to have been entrusted by both the VRAF and Maria Ketcham at the DIA. It is incredible to be able to work with vital images and this experience has reaffirmed my desire to stay in Detroit and give back to my city through my work with archival collections and visual resources.”
Gabriella Karl-Johnson, MLIS candidate, Queens College, to work in the Digital Media Services & Image Archive at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University.
Gabriella digitized a selection of lantern slides depicting architectural monuments, primarily from the Renaissance, located in the city of Florence, Italy. Most of these were produced by art history faculty members around the middle of the twentieth century Gabriella gained experience with a digitization project in its entirety, from selection of objects through each attendant step of scanning, editing, and cataloging to the final exposure of the fully described objects in the digital discovery environment.
Gabriella writes, “Among the skills that I gained through my internship at the Institute of Fine Arts, I learned to use the Shared Shelf cataloging software and became more familiar with the authority records and thesauri connected to that software (including the various Getty vocabularies such as AAT, TGN, and ULAN), and I learned the technical skills of slide handling, scanning, and editing. With the knowledge I have gained at the IFA, I am now capable of designing and managing a similar digitization project, which was one of the primary skills I hoped to take away from the project. I have yet to determine where my first professional position will land me, and I am considerably more prepared post-IFA for the possibility of working in a smaller institution where I would very likely undertake the management of such a project.”
Angie Yip, MLIS, Wayne State University, to work in the Visual Resources Department, College of Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan.
Angie writes, “The VRAF Internship Award has provided a very rich and rewarding experience in exposing me to the visual resources area of librarianship. It has not only allowed me to work on a collaborative project between three community partners in Detroit, but has helped to develop a mentorship relationship with my supervisor at the College for Creative Studies. She has taken the time and care in helping me understand the visual resources community and its history, as well as inviting me to a VRA chapter meeting, and ensuring I learn as much as possible about visual resources, including the opportunities to do more in-depth digital imaging, and learning about embedding images. In such a short time, I have a greater appreciation, and stronger desire, to work in the visual resources field.”