Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Creating Virtual Exhibits - The Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington

Greetings, friends! I'm Anne Mansella, intern from Simmons College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), and I'm here to tell you about one of the exciting projects I've been working on in the Berklee College of Music Archives. You may remember that the Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington was recently processed and made available back in June (if not, take a look here: "Archives Update: Two New Finding Aids"). The collection includes memorabilia created and collected by Franklin McGinley for and by Duke Ellington, including a scrapbook, additional clippings, and various commemorative materials. The scrapbook covers the rise of swing music and Duke Ellington and includes autographs by Ellington and other musicians of the period. The remaining loose materials document Ellington's posthumous legacy, with the majority of the clippings consisting of obituaries or coverage of his passing in 1974. We are now pleased to announce that a virtual exhibit has been created for this collection.

A painting from the scrapbook. Such vibrant colors!
Creating a virtual exhibit means digitizing items and presenting them in such a way that is not only user friendly and aesthetically pleasing but also remains true to the collection itself. There is no doubt that digitization is a great way to not only preserve collections but to also promote and make them accessible to a wide audience. That being said, not all collections are in good enough shape to be digitized. Such a process takes up a good amount of time, money, and resources. Rights need to be obtained. Technical support and security must be arranged, and various challenges are bound to arise. What works for one collection may not necessarily work or be the best option for another. One thing is for sure: when it comes to the digitization of collections and the creation of virtual exhibits there are lots of things to be figured out.

McGinley included drawings as well as newspaper caricatures in his scrapbook.

How did we create a virtual exhibit for the Franklin McGinley collection on Duke Ellington? First, we created a vision and workflow plan detailing how we would create files that work best for a digital exhibit. The scrapbook and loose files were scanned, and hundreds of digital items were then cleaned up using Photoshop. Various file versions were created for each item, each with a specific purpose including:
  • TIFF (archival copy)
  • PSD (modifiable copy)
  • JPG (web copy)
    • Low Resolution (original presentation)
    • Low Resolution Thumbnails (loose materials)
    • Hi Resolution (zoomable)
Once we modified the JavaScript used to create the exhibit, the web files were uploaded onto our website. After hours of work this collection is now available for viewing from the comfort of your own home. My favorite parts are the sketches and artwork that are scattered throughout the scrapbook, presumably done by McGinley himself. Other highlights include a rare autograph from bassist Jimmy Blanton, as well as other signatures from notable musicians of the time (Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Harry Carney, and Duke Ellington).

We hope that you enjoy viewing this virtual exhibit. Check it out here.

A sketch of Duke Ellington found within the scrapbook

Autographs found within the scrapbook, including a rare Jimmy Blanton signature! 

No comments:

Post a Comment