Restoration and Digitization: The Society of North American Goldsmiths Slide Archive

Restoration and Digitization: The Society of North American Goldsmiths Slide Archive

Before and after slide restoration of Convergence in Gray & Green by Jamie Bennett

Before and after slide restoration of Convergence in Gray & Green by Jamie Bennett, c. 1975. Sterling silver, fine silver, enamel, acrylic; Photo: Tom Lee

Last fall, I was tasked with digitizing the contents of a fairly intimidating file cabinet that stands in the corner of my office. Three feet wide and taller than I am, it holds the complete slide archives of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), donated to the Metal Museum in 2004 for educational use. This collection of more than 16,000 images includes the portfolios of more than 330 metalsmiths of national and international significance, as well as 30 years worth of exhibition records and metalworking tutorials. With the help of the American Craft Council Library, this archive is now available online.

As the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the advancement of the art and craft of fine metalwork, our museum is the perfect home for the SNAG archive, but accepting this collection brought its own share of challenges. The most urgent issue was conservation. Time is not kind to 35 mm slides. Many of the portfolios in the archives are decades old - slides are scratched, discolored, and beginning to deteriorate. A second issue was accessibility: Tucked away in the library, the slides can only be viewed by on-site museum visitors.

The solution to both problems was obvious: digitize the slides and share the collection online. Thanks to grants from the John & Robyn Horn Foundation and an ArtsFirst grant from the First Tennessee Bank Foundation, the SNAG slides are currently being cleaned, scanned, and color-corrected by a professional digitization vendor. This is the Metal Museum's first major digitization initiative, and we are grateful to the many organizations and individuals who have made this project possible. In particular, I want to acknowledge ACC librarian Jessica Shaykett and her trusty IT manager Eric Gjerde for donating their time and effort to the project and guiding me through the process of creating a digital database.

The newly restored digital images will be uploaded to the ACC Library Digital Collections on a rolling basis, so we encourage users to check back regularly for new content. We look forward to sharing this valuable resource with artists, students, teachers, and researchers nationwide.

Visit the SNAG slide archive to explore the collection.

Kimberly Bradshaw works in the curatorial department at the Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. As registrar, she handles the museum’s permanent collection of fine metalwork and manages an extensive on-site library of books, slides, and artist portfolios. Contact her for more information about the SNAG archive and other library resources.