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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Smithsonian Launches Online Photography Initiative

The Smithsonian's 18 museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo collectively preserve some 13 million photographs which now, thanks to the Smithsonian Photography Initiative, will begin to be made accessible to researchers online. The images found in some seven hundred collections throughout the Smithsonian are organized by museum and discipline—for instance, the National Museum of Natural History holds natural science images in its collections, the National Air and Space Museum houses images of flight in its archives, and the National Museum of African Art holds photographs of Africa in its collections. The Smithsonian Photography Initiative is devoted to the presentation and study of these photographic images, viewing photography as an art form, a record keeper, and a cross-disciplinary medium that encompasses science, history, popular culture, and more. Beyond offering more information about where to find photography collections throughout the Smithsonian, a new website aims to be an educational tool, serving anyone who wishes to study, explore, and enjoy photographs of many kinds. To view the website go to: where you will be provided access to some 1,800 digital images, the work of 100 photographers, who used 50 different processes.

Posted by: GABI FITZ


Blogger robert e said...

Thanks for the heads up on the Smithsonian (it's about time, Smithsonian!).

For anyone who isn't aware, the Library of Congress has been digitizing and uploading its vast collection of photographs for some time, including 160,000 images from the Farm Security Administration (Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, et al)

There are some stunning nuggets. For example, a razor-sharp 55MB TIFF of the negative of Lange's iconic "migrant mother". An extensive selection from young Ansel Adams' documentation of the Manzanar internment camp, with scans of both negatives and prints. (In other cases as well, the LOC seems to have made an effort to scan both the negative and an original print.)

Unfortunately, the web site seems to be "in-progress" and is at the moment a frustrating hodgepodge interfaces, some full of dead links, and not all photos have been scanned yet at high-resolution.

Tips: The "Prints and Photographs Reading Room" seems to be one of the more recent and more functional paths into the collection:

For the migrant mother, search on "destitute pea pickers".

So go ahead and make your own Walker Evans carbon-on-cotton (or whatever) prints from high-resolution scans.

Bon appetite!

12:10 PM  

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