Cultural Heritage Imaging

CHI @ MoMA by marlinlum
July 23, 2010, 11:06 pm
Filed under: On Location, Training | Tags: , , , ,

By Elizabeth Peña

Last week, the CHI team headed to the Big Apple to deliver a custom-built lighting array to the Museum of Modern Art Conservation Department, and to conduct a 4-day training session with MoMA conservators and guests. It was wonderful to work with such an accomplished, collegial group whose insights inspired us every step of the way. By the end of the week, the group had accomplished RTI’s ranging from a Jeff Koons basketball to a Brancusi sculpture, as well as paintings by Gottlieb and Gorky, a Schwitters collage, and several photographs for an important photograph characterization study. Many thanks to Jim Coddington and everyone at MoMA for their generous hospitality. We look forward to continuing to work with the MoMA staff as they begin to incorporate RTI into their work.


Clockwise from left: Linda Zycherman, Corey Toler-Franklin (Princeton), Mark Mudge (CHI), Szymon Rusinkeiwicz (Princeton), Carla Schroer (CHI), Rick Johnson (Cornell), Marlin Lum (CHI), Mary McGinn (Winterthur), Chris McGlinchy, Robert Kastler, Paul Messier (Paul Messier LLC), Dan Kushel (Buffalo State), Michael Duffy, Lee Ann Daffner, Jim Coddington. Not pictured: Scott Gerson, Ana Martins, Cindy Albertson, Elizabeth Peña (CHI)

Interview: James Coddington, Chief Conservator, Museum of Modern Art, New York by cwillen

CHI Executive Director Debra Dooley recently conducted an email interview with James (Jim) Coddington (JC), Chief Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. CHI is building a custom light array for MoMA’a Conservation Department to help with capturing reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) media of objects in the museum’s collection.

1. How long have you been at the MoMA?

JC: 23 years

2. As Chief Conservator at MoMA, are you constantly searching for new techniques to preserve and restore art?

JC: It is a necessity when conserving contemporary art in particular.

3. What are you doing to digitally document, analyze, and preserve the MoMA collection at present?

JC: We are using standard RGB imaging as well as multi-spectral imaging via a spectral estimation technique using a standard RGB camera with filters. We also maintain written digital documentation of treatments and other reporting.

4. Why have you decided to expand from what you are doing now into reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) techniques?

JC: The importance of 3D information in documenting works of art has been long recognized, mostly in the form of raking light photos. RTI gives us the means to collect substantially more 3D information in a standardized way that also provides data for scientific analysis of surface structure and topography.

4. Why did RTI interest you?

JC: I think mostly the demonstrated ease of use.

5. How will you use RTI?

JC: We will be using it initially to document texture on printed out photo papers but we expect to use it on many different types of objects in our collection.

6. A custom light array is being built for the MoMA. What objects will you capture first?

JC: See Answer #5.