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Thursday, May 31 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Electronic Media) Rewind, Pause, Playback: Addressing a Media Conservation Backlog at the Denver Art Museum

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While the field of electronic media conservation continues to grow in sophistication, museum acquisitions of electronic media artworks have historically outpaced the development of the field and museum professionals’ understanding of the fragility of analog audiovisual materials, software-based artworks, media installation, and other forms of electronic media art. As awareness of electronic media preservation has spread, a need to address the backlog of works already in museum collections has also come into focus. Over the course of the past seven years, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) has worked to establish institutional practice and policy directed at preserving the electronic media in the museum's collection and to deepen institutional knowledge of the complexities associated with this “new” form. However, the DAM began collecting and exhibiting electronic media artwork far before this institutional priority was in place. While developing museum-wide processes for the exhibition and preservation of new acquisitions, the museum has also taken steps to safeguard the electronic media already in the collection. The effort aimed at addressing the backlog of pressing preservation actions necessary to ensure the sustainability of these electronic media works has resulted in two survey-based projects. In 2015, a pilot project, to survey 70 electronic media objects from the AIGA Design Collection of the AD&G Department, resulted in an initial framework for preserving born-digital content. Building on the success of this survey, a broader electronic media conservation project, funded by the IMLS, began in December of 2016, and will continue through September of 2018. The goals of the DAM’s ongoing grant-funded conservation project affect every media artwork in the collection. Any material from the museum’s collection which had previously been stored on videotapes, optical discs, and external hard drives will be migrated to the museum’s digital repository, and cataloged in the museum's collection management system. In the process of performing these tasks, video playback equipment, digital storage, and physical storage needs for the institution have been assessed and improved. Much of electronic media conservation literature emphasizes the significance of a particular work’s history, promoting an approach of compiling “significant properties” through research, in order to determine the work’s “identity” and basing any treatments on this knowledge. This current project addresses the highest risk factors of the DAM’s backlog of materials in an efficient and timely manner. Therefore, the “survey style” of this project does not include complete scrutiny of each object before taking certain actions. This presentation will examine the benefits of the DAM’s approach, while also acknowledging the constraints of this pragmatic methodology.

avatar for Eddy Colloton

Eddy Colloton

Time-based media conservator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Eddy Colloton received his MA degree from the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program at New York University. Eddy has performed a collection assessment of pioneering video artist Paul Ryan's archive, developed a digital preservation workflow for the conservation department... Read More →
avatar for Kate Moomaw

Kate Moomaw

Conservator, Denver Art Museum
Kate Moomaw trained in objects and modern materials at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, graduating in 2007. She has completed a graduate internship at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and postgraduate fellowships at the Tate in London... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm MDT
Briargrove Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston