The photo album has been worn soft by the press of countless fingers, its water-stained cover turned the color of spilled coffee. Labeled London Boys Home, 1857, the album contains careful portraits of young men accompanied by neat handwritten script detailing biographies worthy of a Charles Dickens novel.
Fourteen-year-old William Ford is shown stiffly sitting in a suit twice his size. His slicked-back hair and high forehead tower above a small, pinched face with a long nose and sorrowful stare. The reader is told that Ford was admitted to the school on June 2, 1855. His parents are dead; his brother is a railway porter who is now out of work.
The school arranged for William to travel to Canada for employment, but his conduct on board the ship was not commendable and he gambled some of his clothes away during the voyage. The last entry in his biography, dated March 18, 1858, notes that our wee hero is in Toronto selling muffins.
The rare handmade book was rediscovered in the Getty Museums main photo storage vault by senior curator of photographs Jim Ganz, who was searching for gems to include in the new exhibit Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs, which runs at the Getty Center through March 8.
Created to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the museums department of photographs, Unseen features images from the collection that have never before been exhibited at the museum.
The Getty museums new exhibit Unseen is something of curatorial mixtape.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Work by prestigious names like Nan Goldin, Weegee, William Eggleston, Laura Aguilar and Anthony Hernandez share wall space with unknown talent, as is the case with the remarkable salt prints featured in the London boys home album or a grisly series of forensic crime photos made by the police in Paris in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Ganz, who collaborated on the project with the other six curators in his department, calls the result a curatorial mixtape and notes that objects that have no literal relationship to one another are found next to objects that present the opportunity for making unexpected connections and revelations.
He takes pains to stress that the photos in the show are not the greatest hits of the images not yet seen in the museum, but rather a loving assemblage of images that mean one thing or another to the curators who pieced them together.
This is a collection of 148,000 objects, Ganz says during a tour of the storage vault. So you do the math and realize that most of it hasnt been shown.
Like the journey of 19th century portraits of orphans in England to a storage vault in a Los Angeles museum, the much shorter journey of a photo from that vault to museum gallery wall involves intricate interventions that are not be obvious to the casual observer.
Most of the objects in the collection live in one of five vaults, which collectively provide 4,400 shelves and 10,000 square feet of hanging space. Prints are kept safe in archival quality mats and folders inside slender, black solander boxes rigid containers that protect prints from fluctuations in humidity and temperature, as well as from excessive light. Books and albums are stored in heavy metal cases with glass fronts. Some labels are written by hand, others are typed.
The main vault pairs the look of a library with the chilly, no-frills ambiance of a walk-in cooler. The room is kept at 68 degrees to protect the prints. The vault for color photographs is kept at 40 degrees to slow the inevitable changes with the dyes. Before color materials can be moved in or out, they must spend 24 hours in a transition room with the thermostat set to 55 to prevent condensation from forming on the surface of the work.
Its essential that photographs are housed with high quality materials and that the storage environment is climate controlled for long-term preservation, explains associate conservator of photographs Sarah Freeman, who is part of the team that evaluates each of these factors to ensure they are optimal. Acid-free folders, mats and frame packages are key because they provide protection from handling and the environment. Cool, dry conditions are ideal, and proper air filtration is necessary.
Freeman and her fellow conservators, who work in the lab next-door to the main vault, are also responsible for determining whether or not an object needs treatment. The many options include repairing tears, stabilizing emulsion and the edges of prints, as well as structural work on bindings and book covers. The lab is clean, white and brightly lighted a quiet place where science is obviously happening.
Conservators also must carefully assess an objects light sensitivity. Prints made in early days of photography were often created using experimental techniques and unstable chemicals, so exposing them to too much light could cause them to yellow or fade.
Unseen features a series of cyanotypes made in the mid-1800s by English botanist and photographer Anna Atkins and her friend Anne Dixon. These showcase a technique that uses iron salts to produce blue-colored prints. The results resemble paintings.
The delicate works of art were determined to be so light sensitive that each Monday when the museum is closed a page of the book containing the prints is turned so as not to expose one particular cyanotype to more light than it can handle.
Every object in the Gettys collection of photography has a back story that is often difficult to suss out. This is where the museums collection manager and curatorial assistants get their chance to shine. This group is in the process of cataloging and uploading the entire collection online.
When collection manager Miriam Katz began working at the museum eight years ago, she says that only about 3% of the collection was online.
Miriam Katz, collections manager and lead cataloger at the Getty, measures a print.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Now, as fast as they catalog an image, were uploading it, she says, adding that there are still more than 36,000 objects to go, a process that will likely take another five years.
Cataloging an image is a fascinating combination of scholarly research, hard science and imaginative speculation. Before an image is uploaded, the curatorial assistants have recorded as much information as possible about who took it, when, where and why. Historical background that adds meaning to the image is limned, as are identifying characteristics of the print and entries about who owned an image over the years, and where it may have been exhibited.
To my mind this is the most essential curatorial work there is, Ganz says, because if you dont know what you have, you dont have anything.
The curatorial assistants work at long, polished wood tables in the museums study room, which is open to the public. A print or album is laid on soft, white cloth. The staffers use a loop to magnify the image, a tape measure to record its dimensions and a pocket microscope to help identify the process used to create the image.
Megan Catalano catalogs photos at the Getty Museum.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Then theres the historical research work, which often can yield thrilling results, as was the case with the mysterious London Boys Home portraits. When the book fell into the hands of curatorial assistant Megan Catalano, very little was known about it, including the name of the school and where it was located.
She did some digital sleuthing and finally found another handmade copy of the book in the London Metropolitan Archives. This copy identified the school as being in Walton-on-Thames, which is a borough of Surrey about 15 miles outside of London. Catalano now had a place to start, and she began digging through old newspaper records and other historical materials to figure out the name of the school (Hurst Refuge) and the name of the headmaster (James Edmond Harries), who she thinks is likely the person who kept the book.
It took a very long time, but it was incredibly satisfying, Catalano says.
The book, which the museum has relabeled Walton-on-Thames Boys Home Case Book, arrived at the Getty in 1984 as part of curator and art collector Sam Wagstaffs collection. Catalano says Wagstaff acquired it a Sothebys auction in 1975.
Catalano hopes that someday someone will try to find the boys descendants, and that her research might help with the hunt. Most of the boys were sent to Canada for work, she says, and a few were sent to Australia or Africa.
One or two entered the Royal Navy, so there may be more information about their fates in other government records or archives in other parts of the world, she added. The reports of the boys mostly stop a few years after they arrive in Canada, some having found steady work, others bouncing around. Sadly, one or two didnt survive the journey or died shortly after arriving in Canada.
Each image on the wall in Unseen has its own story. Visitors need only pull back the curtain on the process of telling it.
When: Tuesdays-Sundays, through March 8
Info: (310) 440-7300, getty.edu
See the original post here:
- What to do in Toronto this week: February 24-March 1 - NOW Magazine - February 24th, 2020
- Behold, the Fine Art of the Lesbian Thirst Trap - NewNowNext - February 24th, 2020
- How beauty is being used to fight back against facial recognition and CCTV - Dazed - February 24th, 2020
- How To Get Millions To Watch Your Short Film On Third-Party Youtube Channels - Cartoon Brew - February 12th, 2020
- SA historian to help plan SU's 150th anniversary celebration - The Daily Orange - February 12th, 2020
- Riverdale Season 4 Episode 13 Review - Chapter 70: The Ides of March - Den of Geek US - February 12th, 2020
- Google Maps gets a makeover for its 15th birthday - SlashGear - February 12th, 2020
- JackSepticEye reveals how controversy has affected PewDiePie - Dexerto - February 12th, 2020
- 8 Ways to Drive More Calls & Better Call Quality with Paid Search - Search Engine Journal - January 31st, 2020
- What is Slack and how does it work? Plus plenty of Slack tips and tricks - Pocket-lint - January 31st, 2020
- 5 ways to be a bit safer this Data Privacy Day - Naked Security - January 31st, 2020
- Byte Proves That Vine Is Inherently Superior to TikTok - VICE - January 31st, 2020
- Catching up with SpecmenceCBJ, YouTubes foremost Columbus Blue Jackets archivist - The Cannon - January 31st, 2020
- Niladri Dutta: Enhancing Deep Learning Innovation With Knowledge-Based Decisioning - Analytics Insight - January 31st, 2020
- MLBTR Poll: How Good Are The Reds? - The Union Journal - January 30th, 2020
- Four Ways To Prepare Yourself For Real Estate Investing Success In 2020 - Forbes - January 5th, 2020
- Dr. Pimple Popper Just Popped A Monster Inflamed Cyst In The Ultimate Popaholic Challenge Youtube Video - Women's Health - January 5th, 2020
- CES 2020 tips and tricks: Your guide to techs biggest trade show - VentureBeat - January 5th, 2020
- How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real - The New Yorker - December 18th, 2019
- PewDiePie Quits Twitter After Confirming YouTube Hiatus - We Got This Covered - December 18th, 2019
- Everipedia Gives Back to Children by Partnering with GIVE Nation - GlobeNewswire - December 18th, 2019
- Heavy freight: Why drop-in pitches can't be moved interstate - Sydney Morning Herald - December 18th, 2019
- Amazfit GTR is the Best First Smartwatch for Watch lovers - International Business Times - December 18th, 2019
- Jigs and fixtures by Xometry - 3DPMN - December 18th, 2019
- Do We Have Minds of Our Own? - The New Yorker - December 11th, 2019
- What Are The Best Anonymous Bitcoin Casinos? - Coin Clarity - December 11th, 2019
- The 'artificial' eye of the artist - The Drum - November 27th, 2019
- Heres What to See, Watch, and Stream This Thanksgiving - Vulture - November 27th, 2019
- Guide To Beautiful Gifts From Craftsmen, Artists, And US Entrepreneurs - The Federalist - November 27th, 2019
- Friends reunion special with cast 'in the works at HBO Max' - Metro.co.uk - November 13th, 2019
- What can I do if I hate my job? Here are 5 things - Ladders - November 13th, 2019
- "Hide the Pain Harold" describes what it is like to become a famous meme - Boing Boing - November 13th, 2019
- Is the International Marketplace Network the best way to expand? - Tamebay - November 13th, 2019
- Look Ahead: Curio Aggregates News Stories Before Converting the Articles Into Audio Files - Editor And Publisher Magazine - November 13th, 2019
- With a recalibrated vision WEA commits to further God's Kingdom - Evangelical Focus - November 13th, 2019
- YouTube enters the live-streaming fight (again) - The Verge - November 13th, 2019
- How to crop your photos for Facebook - The Android Soul - November 13th, 2019
- Will C-3PO die in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? - Headlinez Pro - October 23rd, 2019
- The teens don't want to love TikTok - The Outline - October 23rd, 2019
- Sister Wives: Maddie Brush Loves Taking Pics Of Her Kids Is Her New Camera Any Good? - TV Shows Ace - October 23rd, 2019
- Megan Barton-Hanson shares shady post after 'splitting' from girlfriend Chelcee Grimes - Heat World - October 23rd, 2019
- The Power of TuneCore: Kevin Cornell Interview - DJBooth - October 23rd, 2019
- Technology exposed Syrian war crimes over and over. Was it for nothing? - MIT Technology Review - October 23rd, 2019
- Lost albums of the 2010s what became of the albums we were promised but that never arrived? - NME Live - October 23rd, 2019
- Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos on slowing down (to a certain point) - Metro US - September 18th, 2019
- With a $70 Kit, This Startup Promises to Turn Anyone Into an Artist - Inc. - September 18th, 2019
- Scarlett Moffatt shares troll post and calls for people to be kinder - digitalspy.com - September 18th, 2019
- IGTV: What, Why and How You Should be Using it as a Marketing Tool - Business 2 Community - September 18th, 2019
- Steam's wonderful Library Update beta is finally live: Here's how to get it - PCWorld - September 18th, 2019
- Augmented Reality: Eight AR Marketing Applications For Brands In 2019 - Forbes - September 18th, 2019
- Love Islands Arabella Chi says I love you to new boyfriend Wes Nelson after just two months of dating - The Sun - September 18th, 2019
- Looking To Sell Smartphone? Here's What You Need to Know - Updato - September 18th, 2019
- Mind uploading - Wikipedia - April 25th, 2019
- Mind Uploading - April 25th, 2019
- Mind uploading in fiction - Wikipedia - April 25th, 2019
- The virtual afterlife will transform humanity | Aeon Essays - March 20th, 2019
- Your mind will not be uploaded Soft Machines - March 20th, 2019
- Brain Uploading - TV Tropes - June 14th, 2018
- Mind uploading | Transhumanism Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - May 22nd, 2018
- Michael Graziano on The Evolution of Consciousness and ... - April 26th, 2018
- Neuroscientists devise scheme for mind-uploading centuries ... - March 16th, 2018
- New Brain Preservation Technique Could Be a Path to Mind ... - March 16th, 2018
- How to create your own wedding Snapchat filter - Omaha World-Herald - August 25th, 2017
- A song that speaks to you - The Hindu - August 22nd, 2017
- These 7 Forces Are Changing the World at an Extraordinary Rate - Singularity Hub - August 22nd, 2017
- Josh Peck Is Hotter Than a Peruvian Puff Pepper in His Latest Underwear Snap - Life & Style Weekly - August 22nd, 2017
- Blog: Eclipse.Today's The Day! - WAVY-TV (blog) - August 21st, 2017
- YouTube star Lisa's top tips to have you feeling all made up - Belfast Telegraph - August 21st, 2017
- Sam Claflin Slips Into Shailene Woodley's Bathing Suit In Fiji & We Have A Lot Of Questions - Hollywood Life - August 19th, 2017
- Film Review: Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars - Pats Pulpit - August 18th, 2017
- Ashes to Ashes, Dust to ... Interactive Biodegradable Funerary Urns? - WUWM - August 18th, 2017
- Get fit: Fitness gurus you can work out with for free on YouTube - Daily Commercial - August 15th, 2017
- Watch The Heart-Stopping Moment A Biker Cartwheeled In Front Of A Car - Car Throttle - August 15th, 2017
- Why 802.11ax is the next big thing in Wi-Fi - Network World - August 14th, 2017
- Hands on: Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor home security cameras - The Sydney Morning Herald - August 13th, 2017
- How Maryland's political parties ramped up their ground games for 2018 - Washington Post - August 13th, 2017
- Carbon Black may be leaking terabytes of customer data (UPDATED) - Healthcare IT News - August 11th, 2017
- Mouni Roy's Version Of Baadshaho Song Rashke Qamar Will Blow Your Mind Away - India.com - August 11th, 2017
- Exclusive: In An RTI Response, Censor Board Says It Cannot Do ... - Huffington Post India - August 11th, 2017
- Internet service providers in Nigeria: which one is the fastest? - NAIJ.COM - August 10th, 2017