Volunteering at the Museum of Holography

 

A few months after I moved to Chicago, I attempted to visit the Museum of Holography with a friend who was in town. Unfortunately, we discovered that the museum was closed indefinitely. The collections have been locked away for years at this point, but that’s beginning to change. An anonymous benefactor has assured that the collection will remain intact, and volunteer efforts are underway to sort, clean, accession, and catalogue the materials in the former museum. I attended a object handling and cleaning training session in the old space this weekend and spent some time after helping to clean holograms for the upcoming temporary display at SoHo House. It was so heartening to see people coming together to lend their time and expertise to benefit this amazing collection, and it was fantastic being able to view and handle some truly unique objects. There’s so much to the story of this museum and its holdings, and I hope that it can develop into a permanent museum again someday soon.

The exhibition featuring highlights from the Museum of Holography is on display July 28th from 7pm - 10pm at SoHo House

 

There are so many treasures in this collection! 

There are so many treasures in this collection! 

Reviewing some preservation issues: glass plates that are fused together.  

Reviewing some preservation issues: glass plates that are fused together.  

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Collections awaiting processing. 

Collections awaiting processing. 

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Digitization Challenge: Oversized Material

I work in the department in the library which fulfills patron, faculty, staff, and curator image digitization.  One recent request I was tasked with at work involved the scanning of several large maps that are part of the library’s collection.  And I do mean large:  two of the maps had to be captured in six separate exposures to be stitched together.  Our department’s most recent production equipment purchase was an A1 planetary scanner, but even its 23” x 33” bed couldn’t capture the maps in one shot.  The maps themselves had been encased in mylar to protect them, but had to be removed from this housing for digitization.  They dated to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and they were and still are rather brittle.  Paired with the unwieldy size, and digitizing them proved to be quite the challenge.  It was a treat to explore them in such detail, and a good excuse to make sure my Photoshop skills are up to snuff.

The setup. 

The setup. 

The smallest map from the order. 

The smallest map from the order. 

Art and Science Symposium

Last week, I attended a symposium for Northwestern University Library's new exhibition Art and Science:  Traversing the Creative Spectrum.  Speakers included S. Hollis Clayson, Professor of Art History at Northwestern; Harriet Stratis, Senior Research Conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago; Susan Russick, Northwestern University Library Conservator; and Oliver Cossairt, Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern.  The discussions all related to the intersection between science and art, and I was drawn to the discussions of imaging science in particular.  Using rapidly advancing technology has enabled researchers to learn more about historic works of art - Gauguin's working process via Infrared imaging, for example.  I always appreciate it when the cultural heritage imaging field is recognized for its contributions, and it was an interesting group of presentations.

 

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Oak Grove Library Center Tour

Last week, I had the chance to visit Northwestern University Library's offsite storage in Waukegan. It's a pretty incredible operation. They have room to store nearly 2 million titles with their current shelving units and already have well over a million titles barcoded, boxed, and shelved. The organizer in me was very pleased by all this order. 

Those dots at the end of the walkway are people, just to get a sense of the scale. 

Those dots at the end of the walkway are people, just to get a sense of the scale. 

Lift to get all those books put away. 

Lift to get all those books put away. 

Grid heaven. 

Grid heaven. 

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