This pilot project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was undertaken to develop methods to share data and images generated through a collaborative conservation documentation project. Examination and documentation information gather on thirty-one daguerreotypes from the collections of each of the three collaborating institutions -- George Eastman House (GEH), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFAB) were examined. All thirty-one plates were made in the Boston studios of Southworth & Hawes between the period 1843 to 1863.
Project solutions arrived at to facilitate the sharing of images and data make use of software that is available at no cost, as well as open-source software. It is our intent to make this unique resource available to any institution with similar collections at no cost to them. Please direct inquiries to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The software, databases, interfaces, and lexicon developed for this project will be used, tested, and refined when put to use for a larger documentation survey of 224 Southworth & Hawes daguerreotypes in the holdings of the three institutions.
Featured in the portal are large format, high-resolution images that capture and convey essential information about the current condition of the object. These images, when compared to older and future images will map critical nuances of change. For each daguerreotype surveyed, a variety of condition data, including annotated images, images generated under various light conditions, images composed of multiple layers, and elemental and compositional analysis were produced.
Because of the central importance that annotated images bring to this project, and the need to standardize language, a thesaurus [lexicon] was developed and illustrated with examples. Lexicon terms include condition, plate characteristics, housing, treatment, analytical and art historical terms. for use when describing conservation-related conditions shown on the images. This thesaurus of common terms will facilitate searches on the web and make it possible to find all objects showing similar conditions, features and histories.
During the daguerreotype survey phases, access to the data via a shared resource will be limited to the three collaborating institutions. However, upon completion of the surveys, the data will be made available to all interested parties via the World Wide Web.
This resulting database provides an exciting tool for searching commonalities based on condition characteristics, analytical data, plate manufacture, treatment, exhibition and housing histories. The gathering of associated information provides a critical context for the understanding and care of daguerreotypes
Through development of technological solutions for information-sharing the Southworth & Hawes resource joins a growing consortium of other conservation documentation pilot projects--each seeking to find efficient, open-source solutions for sharing data and images via the web. Whenever possible, we will make use of existing open-source software, cooperatively extending these tools and adapting their open source code to further the goals of this project.