Preserving and Integrating Conservation Photography at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields as the 2016-2017 VRAF Intern

  • Rebecca Pattillo University of Louisville
Keywords: digital asset management, conservation, metadata, image management, workflows, Piction


The Clowes Collection of Old Master Paintings housed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields (IMA) includes seventy-eight works by Flemish, Spanish, English, Dutch, and Italian masters, comprising some of the museum’s most important artworks. The IMA recently embarked on an interdepartmental project to create a new digital catalogue that will highlight the history of each piece. What makes this publication unique is an emphasis on the conservation history as documented in thousands of images, including X-ray, infrared, and UV photographs. In order to facilitate this project, it became necessary to bring together all conversation imagery regarding the Clowes Collection, apply appropriate metadata, create new metadata workflows for Conservation staff, and ingest the images into Piction, the museum’s DAMS. Over the course of six months, the author worked collaboratively with the Conservation, Photography, and Archives department at the IMA to integrate Conservation assets into Piction. This work involved consulting multiple standards for visual resource management, building a custom schema, creating a custom controlled vocabulary, and working with the DAMS vendor, all within a set time frame.


The author would like to thank the Kress Foundation and the Visual Resources Association Foundation for whom this project was possible due to their generous funding. At the 2017 Visual Resources Association annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky, the author presented the following work as the VRAF Intern at the poster session. Sharing the experience, including the successes and challenges of the project, with others in the visual resources field provided the author with invaluable professional development growth. The practical experience gained from the internship not only solidified the author’s metadata skills, but gave her the opportunity to develop project management, communication, and training skills, all of which has been integral to her professional growth. She would also like to thank Samantha Norling, Tascha Horowitz, Anne Young, Annette Schlagenhauff, David Miller, Fiona Beckett, Erica Schuler, and the entire Conservation department at the IMA for their expertise and enthusiasm during this collaborative project.

Author Biography

Rebecca Pattillo, University of Louisville

Rebecca Pattillo is the Metadata Librarian for Archives and Special Collections at the University of Louisville, where she serves on the Digital Humanities Working Group and the University Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. She is also a Consulting Research Associate for the Frederick Douglass Papers Edition at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI). Prior, she worked in the Library and Archives Department of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields as the Ursula Kolmstetter Scholar from August 2014 to August 2015 and as the Visual Resources Association Foundation Intern from September 2016 to February 2017. Her other work experience includes the Collections Department at the Indiana Historical Society, and the National Council on Public History. She received an M.L.S. and an M.A. in Public History from IUPUI in 2016. Representative of her dual master's, she is interested in community archives, accessible and inclusive digital collections, archival labor ethics, and imparting the importance of multicultural collections to create a more accurate and inclusive historical record.

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