Through the Lens of Warhol

From 1976 until his death in 1987, Andy Warhol was never without his camera. He snapped photos at discos, dinner parties, flea markets, and wrestling matches. Friends, celebrities, passers by: all captured Warhol's attention. In 2014, after a competition among a selection of leading American art museums, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts designated the Cantor Arts Center as the permanent home of Warhol’s archive of over 3,600 contact sheets. In this MCN program, Cantor representatives will present on how receiving this extraordinary archive became the catalyst for achieving a long-standing desire to partner digitally with the Stanford University Libraries and help expand awareness of the University’s research holdings at large. The unprecedented partnership was not without challenges, given the different digital systems, technical requirements, legal constraints, and staffing needs to scan and process over 130,000 images. By 2018, the Warhol archive ultimately resulted in a multitude of audience interfaces: three comprehensive websites; a 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition at the Cantor featuring a digital tabletop interactive as its centerpiece; a 230-page catalogue; and an undergraduate course. The Cantor’s experience is a case study of collaboration and intense adaptation to leverage the reach of digital technology.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
Good afternoon. Thank you all for joining us for our session here. So our session is titled through the lens of Warhol Museum and Library multi platform partnership at Stanford University. My name is Tiffany staccato and I'm with the canter Arts Center. Before we dive into our discussion, just some quick background for those of you who aren't familiar with the canter Art Center. So it actually predates the establishment of the university, we just celebrated our 120/5 anniversary. Our collection is an encyclopedic collection, we have about 42,000 objects, half of which are primarily works on paper, we have about 60,000 square feet of exhibition space. And through the course of our year, we're usually doing up to 30, special exhibitions and rotations. And our staff size is just below 50, making us one of the smaller size staffs for as far as university museums go. And for this audience, it may be of particular interest to note that we have no designated IT support on site. So we're part of the larger University IT system. And as you can imagine, with that kind of arrangement, as far as planning, developing, maintaining any kind of digital technology related initiative can be interesting. So today, in the next 30 minutes, you'll be learning about a major gift that the cantor received a few years ago from the Andy Warhol Foundation, and we hope that you'll gain some good to notice if you're thinking about partnering with another institution or another organization. In our case, we are worked with, obviously with the Warhol Foundation, as well as the deep network of Stanford libraries. Another thing that you know, if you are if your organization is considering what goes into a major digitization project, hopefully you'll get some some good insights from our presentation. And we're very lucky to have three key contributors to this project here. We'll be speaking so Clarissa mirallas, Peg Brady, and Diane whinfell. I also want to recognize a couple of other folks who were very instrumental, but who unfortunately couldn't join us today. Me excuse me, Amy De Pasquale, she was our project archivists on the Warhol gift are Katie FL Cohn and Hannah frost who are with Stanford libraries. So with that, I'll hand the mic over to pick

Unknown Speaker 02:38
Thank you, Tiffany. The Andy Warhol photography archive was an amazing gift for the cantor. So exactly what was that gift. In this slide you can see as a breakdown of the components. The gift consists of all of Andy Warhol's black and white 35 millimeter photographs from 1976 to 1987. To quote the curators of our exhibition, when at wherever he went, whether to discotheques, dinner parties, flea markets or wrestling matches, or how brought his 35 millimeter camera with him, friends, boyfriends, and business associates, suicides, celebrities and passer buys, all captured his attention, at least for the moment it took him to snap the shutter. This is what the 130,000 Plus exposures in the Stanford contact sheets are. At the time of the gift to the cantor in 2014. Only a very small amount of this material had actually been shared with the public. So this slide shows you for those of you that may not actually know what 35 millimeter contact sheets are, this is a contact sheet. There. The gift as we noted in the other slide consists of both the contact sheets and the actual negatives. We were given the ownership of the physical works, the Andy Warhol foundation retains all copyright for publication and reproduction rights. The gift was definitely an opportunity for the Cantor and it was an opportunity to present this material to the public for the first time. It provided the resources to establish both the Cantor and Stanford as a site for in depth study of this time period of Warhols creative expression. It also served as the catalyst to redesign the museum's website and create a more robust online presence for the museum collections. This slide details the expectations of of the agreement between the Warhol Foundation and the museum The time of the gift. The agreement promised these deliverables, a three year timeframe was agreed on by both parties, a timeframe that as we began to actually get into the deliverables, was extended by an additional year as we realize the full scope of what this wonderful gift required. Before the deliverables could even be worked on, there was a whole nother workflow. The entire gift had to be catalogued and assigned accession numbers. So to accomplish this, a full time three year term position was created for an archivist, this position being filled by her hiring Amy Deepa, Squale and 2015, which is several months after the initial gift in October of 2017. With digital immortal image files needing to be linked to the database and planning for the exhibition beginning a part time term position of an assistant was added to the project. And Diane wind thaw was hired to fill that position. The next slide is shout out to Amy Deepa Squale, who was the Warhol archivist, her deep knowledge of all things, Warhol allowed her to catalog the entire collection, and also provided expert guidance to the curators who selected the images that became the exhibition. Amy knows more about Warhol, I think, than Warhol did. Partnering with the libraries why the library's online catalog search works is a state of the art online resource with international reach. They have a large tech savvy staff that supports this catalog. The site also includes sophisticated analytics that would allow Kanter to track who was accessing and using the collection worldwide. We could also partner with the library as well stir, we're still working on a parallel presentation of material on our own website. The next slide, this gives you sort of a visual breakdown of the timeline of the project. And you'll see from it that many of the phases overlapped in really significant ways the period of time, I would say 2016 to 2018

Unknown Speaker 07:30
was obviously pretty intense. And we are even now still rehousing the actual negatives themselves. So one other thing to note with this timeline is that in 2016, we were also dealing with a lot of staff changeover for about a year and a half. At that time the cantor was without a director. It took until 2017 for a collection department manager myself to be named to oversee the project. And for a director of collections exhibitions and conservation to be hired. This lack of permanent staff and key positions for for the first half of the project meant that the archivist which was a term position was for a quite a bit of time making decisions on our own without full knowledge of the entire institutions investment in the project.

Unknown Speaker 08:32
Can you guys hear me okay? Okay. So thank you peg. Within that project timeline that we just took a look at, we had to develop parallel workflows to ensure that we're home materials, records and content would ultimately be discoverable on both platforms, the Cantor's and the libraries, and serve each aspect of the Warhol gift. So that gift the Warhol collection included as peg mentioned, the negative exposures which required individual frame digitization, so we see with Jane Fonda on the left here, and then the contact sheets from which those negative frames were selected, which needed page by page digitization that we see in the center, and then the digitized files. These files enabled the creation of new study prints like those that we see on the right. This is a unique opportunity for the cancer for exhibition and research, but it was apparent that these files really needed a platform for digital discovery as well. So the Kandra provides physical Exhibition Space Museums storage and a digital collection site experience for the Warhol collection. The library, on the other hand, has a digital repository infrastructure compatible with the triple if viewing environment, and this viewing experience allows for deep zoom functionality that is crucial for seeing a contact sheet and allows for greater search and discovery of the Warhol material So our takeaway here is the process to distinguish between the types of material in a gift or a collection, discuss the requirements and then determine what each partner institution can offer. On top of all of that, we also had a lot of metadata. So metadata was important for effectively collaborating on the Warhol collection as we were migrating both the records and the aura of Warhol between Museum and Library environments. So how did we manage this timeline with all these pieces in both places, initial records were created in the embark database software at the canter, a batch master record was duplicated for 3600 contact sheets, and another master for the same number of rolls of negatives. The information changed over time to encompass relevant data like exhibition history, territorial notes, cataloging subject terms and all the rest. Each contact sheet came with a Warhol foundation number, it was given a temporary acquisition number, and then a final counter ID number, all while keeping an original Warhol job number which matched or sometimes mismatched between the contact sheets and their corresponding negatives. This may sound confusing because it was but it consistent database structure helped track all of these changes and all of the record identifiers. records including all of these identifiers were exported as a CSV file, input to excel and crosswalk to mods for the library with the help of lots of manual entry and filtered changes to conform to specific metadata template. This process definitely could not have happened without the work of the digital library systems team and our KTF Alcon the medical data coordinator at the library. This was going on concurrently, as peg mentioned with digitization website infrastructure updates, and the kanders existing workflows for exhibition and publication production. So a takeaway from this process is the importance of finding out what your partner institutions needs are, especially when it comes to files and standards. We learned that the library had a six month timeline for digital asset ingestion to its repository. And that became a factor in our timeline to launch the physical and online exhibition simultaneously. So we highly recommend having the conversation about standardized formats. For example, things like date encoding, before processing even begins, and consider how to communicate your partnership to your audience. So make those roles transparent. For example, on the Cantor's collection display online, visitors are informed that Stanford library has a high res zoom view for contact sheets, and maybe the better platform for detailed image analysis. Whereas the canters site can display individual negative frames, which we'll get to take a look at in a moment.

Unknown Speaker 13:05
So this collaboration was concerned with Warhol image and information interoperability, meaning that we needed to have the collections record data work for multiple kinds of institutions, and ultimately support multiple kinds of audiences and researchers. The museum and library have different work for different frameworks for record management, different database systems, different standards, and encodings. And as we said, different levels of IT support. This made work regarding technical specifications and extra challenge and also involved some external vendors. So some important tech specs for this collection. The first one being quality as peg had mentioned, this is Warhol 35 millimeter photography, the majority of which had never been seen before. This felt pretty high stakes. We needed a fast turnaround to meet our deadline, but also required high resolution for both contact sheets and individual negative exposures. They can't or does not have photography or digitization facilities on site. So this had to be contracted out after taking some significant time to find the right external vendor for the job. After digitizing, we also discovered that conservation work was required on some 35 millimeter color slides, reworking images to meet that high quality standard was a pressure on our timeline. Another important aspect was rights. So once we had these beautiful, huge high resolution files, we had to be careful with their distribution. The cancer at the library and the Warhol Foundation had to continually define our terms for exhibiting these images. For example, negative frames viewable on the canters collection site all include a copyright watermark statement, which required a batch reprocessing of JPEG derivatives because there is no standard for what a thumbnail is we had to negotiate pixel dimensions to balance presentation for an adequate viewing experience while also safeguarding the Warhol foundation copyright requirements. And a final specification that we felt was important to share was size. So the size of our digital assets also played an unexpected factor that kanders existing server and database are not initially set up for batch processing nor handling the 12 terabytes of new information created from the digitization process. We also had to consult with the library staff including contracting another member of the digital library team on how to safely ensure the transfer of digital files into our database with no corruption, and then how to share it with the library. So the takeaway here on these textbooks are to discuss upfront if not understand outright, the evolving technical requirements of each component of a project. In our case, it involved the quality of digitization, the storage, issues of file size, and the display parameters for intellectual property among stakeholders. ample time with a lot of the way to determine and implement these specs is necessary on a project timeline. I also want to emphasize the importance of collaboration between all the participating institutions.

Unknown Speaker 16:26
Thanks, Dan. So talking about the project outcomes and some closing takeaways, so we had many concrete outcomes that fulfilled and exceeded the requirements of the gift and which include in a multi platform web presence, the exhibition, the publication, our digital interactive that was produced for the, for the exhibition, but we In addition, we also had several unintended outcomes that were that happened because of the gift and this was an improved museum collection website. A stronger relationship with our university libraries, additional gifts that have since been awarded to the museum. For example, in the past year, we were gifted the Capital Group foundation gift of over 1000 photographs with bodies of work by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston Wright, Morris, John Guttman, Gordon Parks, Helen Levitt and Edward Curtis. It also paved the way for two new curatorial positions to be established at the museum, including a curator of photography and new media, and a fellow in photography as well. And then, you know, gifts keep on giving often. So we are continuing to have ongoing conversations with faculty and other institution wide constituents on how to maximize this archives reach to our faculty, researchers, and of course, our students at Stanford University. So this is an example of the our counter website, digging into the photography archive there, where you can enter in through and view the contact sheets or the negatives. And there's also a link to the Library's page, as Diane mentioned, mentioned before, for the triple if experience or to the spotlight. So here's just a quick video of how you enter in from our website and go to our collections page. As they said, you can choose one of the or the main reason we decided to also include the collection on our collections pages that we have the possible capabilities to show the individual frames up from the negatives, which because of security concerns from the foundation on the library's site, they weren't able to do so as you can see here, you could dig in can see these very cute dogs Andy Warhol photographed at one time, and on the same sheet, a young Lou Reed as well. So that was really interesting capability that we were able to realize on our on our museum website, and then moving to the library's pages. So there are two parts, our search works catalog, which you can see a dashboard here. And then the next there was our spotlight exhibit that was on the Stanford page that was helped by the one of the curators for the exhibition, Peggy Phelan and Amy DiPasquale, who came up with a a bit more of a apella notable entry point into that archive. And then just in the next slide, you'll see kind of the how to use that page or dig into it from the search work site. So you can see here that you know, starting with the contact sheet, which is very hard to see and just the image is using their height, their zoom capabilities, is that you're able to really dig Deep into some of this imagery, you see a young Madonna here off of her concert with Keith Haring and young John Michel buskey art. So you can really investigate some of these contact sheets in a way that you're not able to on our museum site. So really highlighting this technology, as well as all of the cataloging information that we that our archivists were able to produce. And then moving forward, just some analytics that were our data that we were able to gather in the past year from our library's sites. Again, a key focus of digitizing this and putting it out there on our library sites was the international reach that it had. And as you can see, in the bottom right corner, you know, it shows how many countries that individuals have been able to access this, this archive from and you can see here too, that one of a big a big thing for us was the new users that was brought to the site 77, almost 78% of people who have looked into the site or brand new users. And as well, what we find found important was the amount of time people were spending on the page. So over four minutes, which we thought was pretty impressive, actually.

Unknown Speaker 21:27
And then, as I mentioned, our exhibition and publication that were produced, you know, one of the complications to with this was that everything was timed together. So within this three and then extended to four year, deadline was we needed an exhibition produced a publication and all of our reef online research databases needed to go live basically the same time. So no pressure. But so we as you can see, in the photo on the right, is, this is a installation shot from our exhibition, it's an 4200 square foot exhibition space at the cantor museum, we only use 49 of the content of the over 3600s contact sheets physically in the space. And that's because we're user visitorship, it's really difficult to see all of that information at once. So with our curators, they develop this type of stem cell context for for the works, you're showing how the from the contact, she was, a real larger photograph was produced to a stitch photograph to a full fledge silk screen from that image that had been taken. And then the public image of the publication on the left, and in there, you could see we produce this digital interactive, and with the interactive, if you want, we made this attractive video to attract visitors to use it. But you can you can we what was really important was the functionality of this and being able to zoom mimicking the libraries, the libraries, a technology as well. But the ability to rotate because of the different orientations in the screen, as well as providing that, that cataloguing information at the bottom. And this, we only ended up using about 105 of our contact sheets, again, money time was issue, but also usability or user, you know, I think putting on adding all of them into this type of wouldn't have done anything for our users. So and this was created with not necessarily to be in direct con, or to always be entered in the context of the exhibition so we could potentially bring this out in the future and reuse it. And then just moving to kind of our closing or closing takeaways. So gifts are great, they're awesome. And they really expand the physical holdings of a Museum's collection and with thoughtful digital partnerships, gifts can really grow both the museum's presence online, lead to professional growth and technical growth for your staff and hopefully inspire inspire future projects that expand your presence digitally. But as you may have gathered, this was not a project that the staff really knew what what the full ramifications were going into it and with the staff turnover. This was negotiations for this agreement was definitely done at an executive level as I would say director to director from university libraries to the canter to the Andy Warhol foundation. So when the museum staff finally learned about the full requirements, so definitely was a mad scramble and really real questions of where and how do we even get started? And how are we going to complete Everything in time. So, you know, obviously a key takeaway for us is if we were to do it all over again, figure out who the key players are early on, as soon as the agreement is made, even if their respective scope of work, or activity may not begin for several years. And this is really to get them to the table to talk about the promise requirements and flesh out the timeline, acknowledging that it will keep, you know, it'll it will keep moving. And, you know, initially we thought of this as a very much a collection centric project, but it ended up expanding across the entire institution, and coming up in different formats. So really, you know, obviously, involve staff and partners early start talking about it as soon as it gets going. And I wouldn't say all of our missteps or hiccups could have been avoided with more advanced planning, but we would have at least felt more prepared and would have been increased the buy in institutionally I think.

Unknown Speaker 26:04
So, and again, you know, this was a brand new endeavor for the cantor. So one of the most meaningful takeaways is the experience itself. And then museum may not have all the resources available at its fingertips or in house, but we now know where to get started. And I think that was really big for us and the processes that we need to have in place to execute a partnership or project like this in the future. And of course, time, the more time, the better, unfortunately, to time is not often a luxury that we museum people get ever so I wanted to end with this quote from Warhol himself. They always say time changes things, but you have to change them yourself. So thank you, and any, if you have any questions? Is there any?

Unknown Speaker 27:05
Or has this project created an initiative to look at putting more collections or collaborating with libraries to have more surgical on their platform? But I'll be honest,

Unknown Speaker 27:17
so I was at Yes, but not formally. So that is something that we're hoping to do. And with our this new collection photography collection that we've just received, we've also have an archive of Richard Diebenkorn sketchbooks that we've done and there so there are many areas that we're now trying to strategize on how to get that onto the library's on the library sites, because we've seen how that functionality and how it drives traffic to our museum site as well.

Unknown Speaker 27:51
Are you seeing

Unknown Speaker 27:53
more student engagement with this material in the library? So

Unknown Speaker 27:59
we're, I wouldn't say necessarily yet. But we're hoping that with additional archives like this, that we have that that will promote more student student engagement with with our museum and our collections. It is it's definitely been something that the faculty has been using quite often. So I guess in that way, it's it's expanded that reach but not yet, I guess fully.

Unknown Speaker 28:36
Any other questions or comments? How many of you are with the University Museum or with the library? Are people thank you. Thank you.