In my first meetings with my supervisor, Norton Owen, I learned about the two main projects he had in mind for me to work on, with the possibility of more as time permitted.
The first project would involve photo exhibits that had been on display in Blake’s Barn and a few other locations around campus during summers past. Up to this point, the only way to have seen these exhibits was to come to Jacob’s Pillow that summer for a visit. Norton was looking for a way to re-create past exhibits for the web, so that more people could enjoy the photographs and archival materials and learn more about the dance history of the institution at the same time.
The second project involved taking the finding aids and database files that had been created and maintained on the administrative side of the archives, and putting them into a searchable web format that can be made available to the public. I’ll go into more detail about that project in the next post.
The technological solutions for these projects did not have to come from the same programs or software, however after some careful research and investigation, some trials, and feedback from my supervisor, I eventually found a tool that seemed perfect for both projects: Omeka. Many libraries and archives use Omeka to create digital exhibits, digital collections, and to make their resources available online. Omeka is also open-source, just about infinitely adaptable, and free. With the go-ahead from Norton, I began to work with Omeka, problem-solving for the second project as I got started with the first project, the web exhibit.
Here is a picture of the exhibit space in Blake’s Barn, and an example of what one of the current photo exhibits looks like. The online layout of any web exhibits would need to be as flexible as the layouts Norton has designed for the physical exhibits, and offer the same freedom for exhibit curation that the smooth flat walls of Blake’s Barn currently offer.
The exhibit Norton wanted to use for the “test” exhibit is called “Lindquist / Lundqvist.” It is a photography comparison between John Lindquist, resident photographer at the Pillow from the 1930’s to 1980, and Jonas Lundqvist, a contemporary dancer and photographer who created a body of photographic work for the Trey McIntyre Project in 2006. These two men never met, and yet they both produced surprisingly similar photographic compositions. The similarity of their names is also a coincidence! It’s so exciting to see their work side by side.
To create the web version of this exhibit I modified the images and prepared them for the web, and incorporated the text that Norton had written and displayed with the photos to introduce the photographers and the concept of the exhibit. Here is one page of the resulting web exhibit as displayed through the Omeka site I began to develop:
The web exhibit links 10 sets of photographs like these in a series, sized for the web and protected with watermarks. I had a great time working with the Lindquist / Lundqvist photographs and setting up the website pages to display them at their best.
Keep reading to learn about the second project I worked on for the Jacob’s Pillow Archives!