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Keynotes

Spectral Archives: Obstacles and Opportunities

Roy S. BernsRoy S. Berns

Optical radiation can be readily separated into individual wavelengths. A material’s spectral properties, whether emitted, transmitted, or reflected, is fundamental, defining the material unambiguously. Artwork reproductions having the identical spectral properties to the original art will match the original in color under all illuminating conditions and for all observers. The reproduction’s appearance mimics the original, useful for lighting decisions. The spectral data can be used for authentication, conservation treatments, and as a component of technical examination. Given the availability of spectral imaging systems and the fundamental nature and utility of spectral data, why are image archives of cultural heritage overwhelmingly RGB? Why are studio cameras only RGB? There must be obstacles preventing spectral imaging from entering the studio. What are they? Multi-spectral and hyper-spectral imaging seem exclusive to academics and conservation scientists having imaging expertise. Are there reasons why studio photographers are excluded? These and similar questions are the subject of this presentation, along with a review of the principles and applications of spectral imaging.

Roy S. Berns retired in 2019 from Rochester Institute of Technology’s Munsell Color Science Laboratory and Program of Color Science. During his 36-year career, he developed both MS and PhD programs in color science and established RIT as a leader in artwork spectral imaging, including capture, encoding, and reproduction. Under Berns’s direction, studio-appropriate systems were developed to measure material-properties of paintings and drawings, including spectral reflectance, spatially-varying BRDF, and surface normal maps. He received his BS and MS in textiles from University of California, Davis and a PhD in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Berns has received scientific achievement awards from the Inter-Society Color Council, IS&T, the Colour Group of Great Britain, and the International Association of Colour.

The Ever-changing Work that is Digital Preservation

Leslie Johnston, National Archives and Records Administration (US)Leslie Johnston

Since the mid-1990s, digital preservation has transformed from a secondary activity at a select few cultural heritage organizations to a vital international effort with its own best practices, standards, and community. This keynote and accompanying paper discuss what digital preservation is and is not, what factors impact the scope and efficacy of digital preservation, and what strategies seem to work.

Leslie Johnston is the director of digital preservation for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), responsible for developing and executing their digital preservation strategy. Johnston has worked in the cultural heritage, higher education, and federal communities; her expertise includes system design and implementation, setting and applying content and metadata standards, still image digitization, and the preservation of born-digital and digitized collections. She has a BA and an MA, both from UCLA.

Mind the Gap: Shifting the Gender Balance Online with Cultural Collections

Effie Kapsalis, Smithsonian Institution (US)Effie Kapsalis

US citizens view cultural organizations as trusted resources in a societal landscape where factual information is debated. At the same time, reflecting the increasingly diverse US populations is key to the future sustainability of US cultural organizations. The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative (womenshistory.si.edu), launched in 2017, declared that it will be a resource for a more complete and diverse American history. A nearly 175-year-old organization like the Smithsonian does have major gaps in representation throughout its long history. This keynote highlights the tools and resources the Smithsonian is deploying to rapidly increase representation across its diverse digital ecosystem with its more than 155 multidisciplinary collections.

Effie Kapsalis, senior digital program officer in the Smithsonian Provost Office, leads digital strategy for the American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI), the first pan-Smithsonian initiative launched under the Smithsonian’s strategic goal: “Reach 1 billion people a year with a digital-first strategy.” She also leads open collections and data initiatives. Kapsalis has a decade of experience working in the private tech sector in educational software development; she developed her life-long love for human-centered design working on her Master of Industrial Design, which she received from The University of the Arts.

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