39th Annual Meeting – Photographic Materials Group Luncheon, June 3rd, 2011. “The Hermitage Project”, Paul Messier.

Photographic Materials Specialty Group Luncheon Meeting


Q: When is a survey more than a survey?


A: When it is fully utilized as a tool to promote fuller understanding of collections, better internal institutional communication and positive changes.


Paul Messier explained how a photographic collections survey model, already employed at multiple institutions, was the first step in an exciting collaborative project.  The FAIC, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, (and many others to the tune of three acknowledgement  slides) have joined forces to survey the photographic collections and to take the next steps toward enabling Hermitage staff to better care for and exhibit their prints. The survey could lay the foundation for future grant applications, showing institutional interest in and accurate statistics of their photographic materials.


Did I mention the survey program translates between languages?  Maybe I don’t get out much, but I was impressed.


The teaching of photograph conservation to a small group of young Hermitage conservators is already underway in the form of workshops at the Weissman Preservation Center at Harvard Library and the University of Delaware Department of Art Conservation. The installation of a lab space dedicated to the treatment of photographs is in the planning stages. The Hermitage is a highly esteemed bellwether among Russian Museums. Hopefully this project improves recognition of photographic collections as deserving and needing more care than provided at present.


I was already aware of FAIC’s efforts in Haiti, but was extremely impressed when I heard about this project.  The importance of expanding the awareness of the field of conservation cannot be overstated.  More publicity is needed for the important efforts of this organization, here and abroad.


The food served at the Photographic Materials Specialty Group luncheon meeting was delicious, as always.