Archiving Findings From
Technical Examinations
Experiences at the
Harvard University Art Museums
Ron Spronk
Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies
Harvard University Art Museums
The Fogg Art Museum, built in 1927, situation after the renovation of
the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies in 1996.
Edward W. Forbes, 1873-1969
George L. Stout, 1897-1978
R. John Gettens, 1900-1974
Alan Burroughs, 1897-1965
“Technical Studies
in the Field of the Fine Arts”
• Quarterly, 10 volumes
(1932-42), 40 issues
• Earliest publication of its
type
• Global forum
• Several important editors
and authors
Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies today
Henry Lie
IRR archive
• Both raw and assembled files are archived, only in
digital format
• Organized per painting, sometimes per project
• Assemblies as TIFF and sometimes Photoshop
file. Original files as TIFF (pre ca. 2000) or
bitmap
• Will be integrated in our overall Conservation
Database, presently looking for new product
• Original file size (depending on the capture boards
used), no compression
• Collaboration sought with RKD, The Hague
• Not publicly accessible
Alan Burroughs X-ray Archive
Groep
Aantal opnames
Van der Weyden
28
Memling
25
Massys
19
Van Eyck
18
Bouts
18
Geertgen
16
Campin
13
David
12
Bosch
10
Van der Goes
9
Bruegel
8
Christus
8
Van Cleve
8
• Art historical approach,
many findings still hold
up today
• Portable tube, great
innovator
• Worked in Europe and
USA, before WW II
• Archive of 3000-4000
X-radiographs
• Special attention for
Netherlandish and Dutch
art
Alan Burroughs X-ray Archive
• Will be digitized, complex undertaking
• Content? At present data base is being built
• Different source materials: X-ray film;
photographic film; glass negatives; glossies
• Image quality and resolution: 2000 dpi, 16 bits
(X-ray film thick emulsions; lead soap
protrusions)
• Will be made available either on-line or in study
stations; copyright issues?
• Collaboration with the ICN and RKD on
metadatabase
Layering
• Superimposition of related images
• Allows for precise comparison of technical
documents with visible light, but also of
different states of the same work
• Other software available (VIPS), but we
prefer Photoshop (since version 3)
Archiving issues
• Different file formats: TIFF (standard), but
also Bitmap (large numbers if IRRs),
Photoshop (layered images), Director
(interactive kiosks), web sites
• Different file sizes: working routinely with
files from circa 500 KB to 500 MB
• Mondrian project (10 GB) on CD, DVD,
also at RKD
Archiving issues
• Diptych project (probably 100 GB when
finished): local hard drives (500 GB), CD,
DVD
• Future solutions: Local Iomega RevDrive
with Firewire
• Harvard Digital Repository
• Collaboration can be difficult
Imaging demo
• X-radiography scans (Photoshop)
• High resolution IR photographs
(Photoshop)
• Layered images (Photoshop)
• Interactive kiosk (Director)
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Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies today