Nora Kennedy 2011 HP Image Permanence Award recipient

Congratulations to Nora Kennedy, Sherman Fairchild Conservator of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the 2011 recipient of the HP Image Permanence Award. This award is given by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T) in partnership with the International Institute for Conservation (IIC) and is sponsored by the Hewlett-Packard Company.

“Established in 2006, the HP Image Permanence Award recognizes advances in colorant and print media materials that significantly increase permanence; advances in predictive science that increase the validity of permanence predictions or provide insight into optimal storage and usage conditions; and/or educational efforts that raise awareness of the effect of storage and usage conditions on permanence.”

Nora is specifically being recognized for her outstanding contributions that advance the longevity of photographic and fine art images created via modern digital methods in the form of her co-leadership with Debbie in organizing the Mellon Collaborative Workshops in Photograph Conservation, the creation and distribution of digital sample book and for leading the creation of the Photograph Information Record (PIR). Since any single digital print process can change in behavior from generation to generation in only  a few years, the PIR is an important link between the object and the actual materials that produced it.  It’s the best tool that we have at the moment to prevent an information black hole in institutions that collect digital prints.

Nora’s willingness to engage contemporary artists in discussion regarding materials choices, exhibition and mounting (all related to preservation) as well as the general care of photographs including digital prints was also noted by the awards committee.

For more information about the award see

Posting courtesy of Doug Nishimura, Image Permanence Institute.







AIC PhotoDocumentation Targets (AIC PhD Targets) on Sale!

AIC is pleased to announce the sale of AIC PhotoDocumentation Targets (AIC PhD Targets), designed by Dan Kushel, Jiuan-Jiuan Chen, and Luisa Casella, and produced by Robin Myers Imaging. The AIC PhD Targets provide an easy and efficient way to include photographic reference standards as well as image and artifact identification information. Lightweight and of robust construction, each target is fully assembled and ready for use. Targets are provided with instructional information and with online resources, which include a printing template for slip-in labels for the medium and small targets. For more information, visit

2nd Edition of the AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation Now Available!

AIC has published the long-awaited second edition of the AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation. This book is a comprehensive guide to digital photographic equipment, software, and processing tailored to the needs of conservation professionals. Authors Franziska Frey, Dawn Heller, Dan Kushel, Timothy Vitale, Jeffrey Warda (editor), and Gawain Weaver have more than doubled the size of the first edition, which includes major extensions and updates to the text and is fully illustrated with over 120 color figures. This second edition also has a wraparound internal spiral binding, allowing the book to lay flat—a request made by many readers of the first edition. For more information, visit

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.



Tsunami Survivors Seek Japan’s Past, in Photos

Excerpt from an article in The Wall Street Journal that demonstrates just one example of the importance of things and why conservators are so passionate about their life’s work.


The March 11 tsunami that devastated Rikuzentakata, a small seaside city in northern Japan, wiped away thousands of homes and left 2,000 residents dead or missing. As it swept away a community, the tsunami surge also carried off its memories, stockpiled on photographic paper and catalogued in albums.

As search crews recovered bodies in the weeks following the disaster, they also collected what waterlogged family albums and muddy pictures they found scattered within the rubble. Volunteer groups have since embarked on the tedious tasks of drying, cleaning and organizing hundreds of thousands of photos.

“When they thought they had lost everything and something like an old picture reappears, we think it will give them strength to move forward,” said Tatsuya Hagiwara, a volunteer with the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention.

In a scene resembling a flea market, organizers spread out albums, yearbooks, diplomas and other keepsakes across a parking lot on the edge of town. A crowd quickly gathered, many seeking pictures of family members and friends who numbered among the dead and missing.

A yelp rose from the crowd. “That’s me!” shouted Etsuko Kanno, showing a picture of a young woman in a wedding dress. The bride, laughing, covered her mouth with a white-gloved hand.

Ms. Kanno – now a 51-year-old grandmother, who arrived at the parking lot with her one-year-old granddaughter asleep on her back – said the picture was taken 26 years ago at a photo shop in neighboring Ofunato. The photographer, she recalled, snapped the picture without warning her.

“This was the happiest moment,” she said, gripping the picture. “But this is only a picture of me. I wanted a picture of my husband.”

The man she married a few days after that picture was taken died in the tsunami. The powerful waters swallowed their home, where he was spending a day off from work with his 83-year-old mother, who also died.

Pictures of her three daughters, grandchildren and husband were washed away with the rest of their possessions.

“I want something on paper that I can look at,” she said. “I looked around and found nothing.”

When volunteers began tackling the photo cleanup several weeks ago, they started with a wet clump of snapshots. They laid the pictures out to dry. They dusted dirt from individual photos with paint brushes, and wiped plastic album sheets clean with damp rags.

The process was time-consuming and imperfect. Only about 10% of the recovered photos, some still damp and covered in dirt, were displayed last week.

People who found photos belonging to them filled out a form and took the pictures. Organizers said they may take the rest of the photos by truck to the 65 different evacuation centers across the city.

For group photos, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, one of the organizations leading the volunteering, plans to scan the pictures digitally and upload the images to the Internet. The group is working on a project to archive photos along with tsunami-related information from Rikuzentakata and nearby towns.

“Characterization of Silver Gelatin Photographs” Conference

On September 30-October 1, 2010, The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works and The New York Public Library presented the “Characterization of Silver Gelatin Photographs” conference at The New York Public Library.

According to the AIC, this conference was intended to present the body of knowledge currently available on the subject of characterizing silver gelatin developed-out photographs. Attendees heard from a range of professionals, including conservators, curators, manufacturers, and artists. Highlights included a presentation on Paul Messier’s vast and growing collection of photographic papers, including their wonderful packaging, from the late 19th century to the present day, as well as a general history of papers. Artists Vera Lutter and Alison Rossiter discussed their contemporary chemical photography work, in terms of their process and their use of the silver gelatin process. Anne Cartier-Bresson spoke about characterization of silver gelatin prints using Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work to illustrate key points. Day 1 concluded with an overview of current research at the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), and a panel discussion on connoisseurship and the marketplace.

From industry, Howard Hopwood, Chairman of Harman Technology, producer of Ilford products, spoke about the tradition and future of silver halide technology. Kit Funderburk, formerly a senior technical manager at Kodak, discussed the manufacturing history of Kodak papers and, in a second talk on Day 2, indicated the ways in which paper characteristics could be used to help date papers and prints. A complete PDF of his book on the subject can be downloaded free, or view the separate chapters here, on the George Eastman House “Notes on Photographs” website.

On Day 2, there were a series of technical talks, with two sessions on using XRF (X-ray fluorescence spectrometry) to analyze photographs. One provided an overview of the history and status of the application of XRF, and the other dealt with the specific case of a set of stabilized prints. There were two sessions covering characterization projects at MoMA. One focused on how chemometrics can help categorize papers. In the other, Lee Ann Daffner discussed MoMA’s ongoing characterization of the Thomas Walther Collection of photographs. MoMA is working with Cultural Heritage Imaging to use RTI/PTM to study the collection. MoMA’s camera array and its associated software create a composite image from multiple images of a single photograph, enabling a full “virtual” examination of the photograph. Day 2 also included a talk on how the presence of optical brighteners can help date papers, as well as a session on silver gelatin DOP sample sets in development. The conference ended with a discussion of future directions and needed research projects.

All the sessions were recorded. If they’re made available online, we’ll publish the link in a future post.