Great Project - Congratulations!!!   ...B

At 12:55 PM 8/14/2002 -0700, you wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'd like to take this opportunity to announce a new project in which METS will be explored for it's potential application to accessing non-traditional art forms (description below). I would be interested in hearing any simiilar projects, or questions from this group. Thanks!

Richard Rinehart
Digital Media Director, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
Instructor, Department of Art Practice
University of California, Berkeley


This project will use technology to increase access to art collections, specifically types of works which represent artistic diversity and are currently under-represented in museum online access projects. These include collections of performance art, artist books, installations, audio/video works, Asian scroll paintings, and digital art. The collaborative project will develop standards for presenting such works in an online environment and disseminate findings of this model project for the arts community through journal articles, website, and professional conferences.

There are currently projects in which museums or museum consortia provide un-precedented access to art collections via the Internet. These projects are successfully providing access to standard art forms such as: paintings, prints, photographs, and to a lesser extent, sculpture. These art forms demand a fairly simple mode of access online; a label description next to a thumbnail image of the work. A larger size image is provided by clicking. However, these projects rarely if ever provide access to alternative art forms because additional difficult challenges must be answered. How does a museum provide access to every page of an artist book in a way that is easy to navigate online and understand as a book? How does one include text transcriptions of each page image to allow searching and access for the blind? How does one represent all the components of an installation or performance so that each can be searched, then brought together for viewing on a web page as one work? How can one present an Asian scroll painting so that each section is detailed enough for research, yet allows the viewer to 'scroll' through the entire work online? How can film archives provide access to video which viewers can search scene by scene? How can one retain the part-to-whole relationship of complex works in an online environment? Most importantly, how does a museum do all this cost-effectively and scaleable across institutions so that the same method can be applied by partners in museum consortia projects to all art forms? Answering these questions will help provide scholars and the public access to art in all media from museums around the nation, representing the diversity of artistic practice and resulting in richer scholarship and enjoyment.

BAM has experience as lead museum for the consortia "Museums & the Online Archive of California" in which BAM provided access to every page and text transcriptions of 60 artist books by conceptual artist Theresa Cha, using the MOA2 standard. In this proposed 2-year project also, BAM will work collaboratively, building on existing standards and practice. NEA funds would enable BAM to participate in the promising METS project (Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard, successor to MOA2), hosted by the Library of Congress with NYU and Harvard libraries as partners. METS hopes to answer many of the above questions for complex digital library collections. BAM would represent the museum community in this national project, extending the METS standard to museum collections. In year 1 BAM will attend working meetings to develop the standard and in year 2 demonstrate the standard in 2 phases. BAM will deliver the entire Theresa Cha Conceptual Art Archive (artist books, video, audio, performance) and the Ching Yuan Chai Collection of Chinese hand-scrolls on the BAM website and then deliver these collections to the Online Archive of California consortium project to demonstrate the interoperability of the new standard.

This project will allow the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (a premiere art and film venue in California) and the Franklin Furnace Archive (a small long-standing and respected performance arts organization in New York) to develop a standard for presenting complex art objects online. Rather than develop this standard in a vacuum, BAM and FFA will represent the art community working on this standard in the context of the national METS project. BAM and FFA will work with other METS partners to develop a standard which serves the needs of arts organizations as well as libraries, and having 2 arts organizations will ensure that the standard does not reflect just the local needs of one arts organization, but can apply across arts institutions.

This project is highly focussed on a discrete and feasible part of the larger puzzle of providing comprehensive access to art online, and will result in a practical, working solution as well as model for the field. That, coupled with the shared expertise of FFA and BAM, will help ensure the success of this project, and the resulting benefit to the entire arts community. BAM and FFA have worked together productively in the past on similar issues of how to electronically catalogue alternative art forms and both have relevant expertise to bring this project to a successful resolution. Additional information on projects mentioned in this narrative follow:

Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS)
The METS schema is a standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library such as archival manuscripts, rare books, and visual works. METS is expressed using the XML schema language of the World Wide Web Consortium. The standard is maintained in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress, and is being developed as an initiative of the Digital Library Federation. Some of the current main partners of METS include: MacKenzie Smith, Digital Library Program Manager, Harvard University Library; Jerome McDonough, Digital Library Development Team Leader, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York University; Morgan Cundiff, National Digital Library Program Leader, Library of Congress

Museums and the Online Archive of California
MOAC is a consortium of 13 museums providing access to art and museum collections together in one place, creating a web resource for students, scholars, and the public in California and the world. BAM/PFA is the consortium lead museum.

Bernie Hurley
Director of Library Technologies

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