Thursday, August 23, 2012

Setting Up Work Spaces

Post by: Kay Palmateer
            Collections Technical Assistant

Our inventory includes not only locating each object and noting its location but figuring out what the object actually - is it glass or plastic?  a punch bowl or planter? We also check its condition and note details for future comparison; make sure it is correctly numbered; and take photos of each object, artists’ signatures, condition issues and other interesting details.

These activities require space and this museum isn’t any roomier than most other museums.  Lauren found an under-utilized corner between the stairs and elevator where good (but not particularly useful) stuff had been stashed.  After it was cleared, this space became our work station and photo studio. After nearly tripping everyone who walked by on the extension cords that were plugged in about 30 feet away, we called in the electrician to install more power outlets and a network connection so we could plug in BEHIND the table and work directly on the computer.
Inventory Setup

We started our inventory with small decorative objects like china, paperweights and travel souvenirs. With an 8-foot folding table and a 4’ x 8’ sheet of medium grey Formica hung as a backdrop, we created a clean, seamless, neutral backdrop for what we hoped would be great photos. We are using a Canon DSLR camera and 2 photo lamps. And gradually, as we have learned to tweak the lights and camera settings, the photos have improved a lot.
Inventory Setup in the Painting Vault
We put together a different setup for inventory of framed art. We began doing the painting inventory in the same area, but though it was nearby, we soon realized we didn’t need to move the art. We have since moved into the painting vault and utilize one of the painting storage racks. We have more space to work and adjust the lights and camera. We also have room for our computer and computer desk so one person examines while the other records the information into the database.
The next phase will be unframed works of art on paper.  It will be a different setup and a new learning curve. 

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