An Introduction to the Driskell Center Digitization Project

Exciting things are happening at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora.  The Driskell Center received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the Driskell Center Digitization Project which began in September this year. This grant provides the Driskell Center funding to digitize the entirety of the Center’s art collection as well as part of the archives collections, including 150 audio tapes, 90 videos, 1,500 photographs, 3,500 slides, and select documents. The goal of this project is to preserve records and artwork owned by the Driskell Center, some of which are fragile, irreplaceable, and on outdated formats, further making these unique materials accessible to the public and researchers. Additionally, the Driskell Center team is writing digitization procedures and standards that will allow for digitization projects to continue in the future and will ensure sustainability.

So far, the process of photographing the art collection has begun, starting with the current exhibition, The Last Ten Years: In Focus which highlights selected paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and mixed media acquired by the Driskell Center in the last ten years as well as highlights from the archives. It’s a beautiful exhibition which showcases the broadness of the Driskell Center’s collections and I highly recommend that you will visit us to see it before it closes on November 17th.

As we digitize the collection, I have been researching and compiling information that will be helpful for creating the digitization standards and procedures. There has been a lot of work comparing the standards for other institutions and understanding the unique needs of the Driskell Center.

I, Tamara Schlossenberg, am the Graduate Assistant hired to work on the project. I am a first year graduate student in the dual Masters of Applied Anthropology and Masters of Historic Preservation with a focus in Archaeology. I got my Bachelor’s in Art and Archaeology with an Archaeology concentration from Hood College in 2016. I have served as an intern at The National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and hope to go into collections management.

Over the next two years it should be an interesting process as we continue to digitize the Driskell Center’s collections. During this time, be on the lookout for new blogs posts about the digitization process and highlights from the collection.

To learn more about the Driskell Center Digitization Project, see the press release here.

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