The Conservation and Digital Labs work collaboratively to ensure the preservation and long-term access of collections. Conservation assessment and, when necessary, treatment of original material precedes digital reformatting so that it can be safely handled during the digitization process.
In 1991 a program was initiated to segregate glass, acetate, and nitrate negatives, and to duplicate negatives in areas of the Collection where deterioration had accelerated. More than 20,000 negatives were duplicated as full-size interpositives and duplicate negatives on stable polyester film stock. Funding for these projects was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials. Beginning in 2000, the process of duplicating negatives was replaced by digital capture.
In 2003, the Library received a four-year grant from the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation and The New York Times Company Foundation to catalog, digitize, and freeze 6,116 deteriorating acetate negatives (4,663 of these were subsequently contributed to ARTstor). In 2004, the Library signed an agreement with ARTstor to digitize and contribute 25,185 high-quality digital images of fragile glass plate, acetate, and polyester negatives.
In May 2009, the Library began a two-year project, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Henry Luce Foundation, to digitize the first 15,000 negatives from the American photography expeditions collection and develop a web-based interface. A second NEH grant was awarded in 2011 for digitizing the remaining 15,000 negatives from the collection. In May of 2013, the entirety of the Library’s collection of art image negatives will have been digitized, cataloged, and made available online through ARTstor and images.frick.org.
Supported by the Helen Clay Frick Foundation (HCFF), the Conservation and Digital labs preserve and digitally reformat material from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation Archives. The archives include negatives, photographic prints, photograph albums, scrapbooks, bill books, letterpress books, architectural drawings, blueprints, and motion picture film. Material identified by archivists and conservators as vulnerable due to format (e.g. film, blueprints, photo-albums) or fragility are treated, digitally reformatted and made available through our digital asset management system.
The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library archives contain material tracing the institution’s history. Negatives, photographic prints, color transparencies, x-rays, motion picture reels, architectural drawings serve to illustrate the construction of the building, demonstrate the daily activities of staff, document events and exhibitions and show the state of works of art in the museum.
Book Digitization Projects
The Macbeth Gallery Project, completed in 2008, was the first of the Library’s book digitization projects. The project targeted over 450 unique auction catalogues published between 1895 and 1953. 296 Macbeth Gallery catalogues required treatment by the Conservation Lab to prepare for off-site digital reformatting.
In 2010 the Library completed a JSTOR Auction Catalog Pilot Project to digitize and make available over 1,600 American and British auction catalogues from the 18th to the 20th century. The Conservation Lab assessed 425 catalogues, treating 264 items before sending them off-site for digitization.
A 2010 project “Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century” to digitally reformat and make available approximately 500 exhibition pamphlets issued by some 100 galleries in New York during the period from 1875 to 1922.
In 2011 the Knoedler Gallery Project targeted 898 exhibition catalogues from 1869 to 1946 to digitally reformat off-site.
In 2012, the Frick Art Reference Library partnered with Brill/IDC Publishers to digitize approximately 3,300 auction catalogues and make them available in Art Sales Catalogues Online (ASCO). The auction catalogues were assessed for condition in the Conservation Lab and treated before digital reformatting. 2,300 catalogues will be digitized on-site and 1,000 will be sent for off-site digitization.