With a $50,000 planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Harvard University Library’s Weissman Preservation Center will embark on a one-year program to assess the preservation needs of photographic collections held in museums and libraries throughout the University. Harvard’s photographic holdings, which may number as many as 5 million objects, have been assessed on the collection level. But as Jan Merrill-Oldham, the Malloy-Rabinowitz Preservation Librarian, notes, “We need to know these collections not only as historical evidence but as physical objects.”
“The Mellon grant provides critical support for broad planning and development of a viable staffing model. Our ultimate goal is to survey Harvard’s photographic holdings at the item level and to rehouse and treat those that require conservation. In order to support the University’s teaching and research over the long term, we must implement strategies that ensure a long life for these collections.”
Paul Messier, conservator of photographs and founder of Boston Art Conservation, will serve as project conservator for the new Mellon-funded program. Melissa Banta, Harvard University Library curatorial associate for preservation and publishing projects, will serve as project curator.
Two leading experts in the field of photographic preservation, Deborah Hess Norris, director of the Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and Grant Romer, director of the Mellon Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation at the George Eastman House, will serve as project consultants.
For more information, contact the Weissman Center at (617) 495-8596.