Conference Workshops: 3D Viz, ArchGIS, and other tools

We are now less than two months away from the start of VRA 2018 in Philadelphia. Fitting with the conference theme of Workshop of the World, I wanted to share the details of the three great workshops that are on the schedule for the morning of Tuesday, March 27th.

Basics of Photogrammetry – 3D Visualization of Cultural Heritage Objects
Photogrammetry, the process of creating 3D digital models from a series of still photographs, has the potential of making cultural heritage objects and collections more accessible. The low-cost and relatively easy-to-learn technique allows for the quick creation of highly-accurate 3D renderings of objects, from small statuettes, to entire buildings and historic sites. Several cultural heritage institutions, including the British Museum and the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais, are already employing photogrammetry to provide greater access to their collections. And the technique was a key topic of conversation at a recent conference on 2D and 3D photography held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Given the increasing importance of 3D visualization in the cultural heritage field, this workshop will focus on the basics of photogrammetry, from image capture and editing, to working with photogrammetry software such as Agisoft Photoscan and Autodesk Remake, to editing and sharing 3D models on websites such as Sketchfab. Employing a small statuette as a working example, the 4-hour-long workshop will include discussions, demonstrations and hands-on activities on all aspects of the photogrammetry workflow. The end result of the workshop will be the creation of a 3D model. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be empowered to begin their own experiments in photogrammetry.

Collaborative Digital Asset Management: Practical Approaches and Useful Tools
At the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), digital asset management is carried out by an inter-departmental committee made up of asset and data creators representing photography, rights and reproductions, archives, exhibitions, registration, and technology. The work of the committee has helped to break down traditional silos between departments as collections are added to a shared digital asset management system (DAMS). This collaborative approach has an additional benefit of reasserting content creators from each department as the primary managers of their digital assets and data, as opposed to IT staff who often lead DAMS selection, implementation, and management. This results in workflows that are more integrated with other department activities and the potential to better connect collections that may be separated by both physical and organizational barriers.

For this workshop, three members of the IMA’s DAMS committee have evaluated the successes and lessons learned from their years of experience to develop a general project management framework for taking a collaborative approach to selecting, implementing, and managing a new DAMS. This broad framework has the flexibility to be applied in a wide variety of institutional contexts with varying staffing levels and areas of expertise, including those with minimal internal tech support. Within the context of the presentation of this broad framework, hands-on activities will give attendees the opportunity to think through common challenges in metadata schema design and thesaurus creation, and to experiment with multiple freely-available tools that aid in metadata and digital asset evaluation and cleanup in preparation for migration.

Workshopping the World: ArcGIS Online & Story Maps
Spatial is Special! Have you ever wanted to learn Geographic Information Systems (GIS)? Want to incorporate mapping into your DH projects? Do you have GIS data that can benefit from deeper analysis? This workshop will introduce you to GIS and teach you how to build your own maps.

GIS allows us to visualize and analyze data across the world. It is a useful tool for researchers who are looking for global patterns and trends. Mapped visualizations can also illustrate narratives for digital humanities projects.

Participation is limited for these workshops, and they are filling up, so register for the conference soon!


Tours: Murals and Artists and Libraries (or Archives), oh my! – Part 2

Tours 3 and 4 are for you if you’d like to venture west of the Schuylkill River! These tours will feature two great institutions of the University of Pennsylvania campus and the City of Philadelphia.

TOUR #3: Friday, March 30th from 9:00am-10:00am. Tour of the Fisher Fine Arts Library. This tour is free but space is limited to 20 people. To register for this tour click here. Explore the architecture of Frank Furness at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher Fine Arts Library, which opened in 1891 as the University Library. The building was restored in 1991 by the firm of Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown and is now home to the university’s collections on art and design. You’ll get a close look at the G. Holmes Perkins rare book collection on architectural history, as well as the recently opened Materials Library for the hands-on study of materials.

Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the Fisher Fine Arts Library, located at 220 South 34th Street on Penn’s campus.

Public transit: 69th St direction MFL (Market-Frankford Line) from 13th St MFL Station to 34th St MFL Station. Or Westbound trolley lines 10, 11, 13, 34, or 36 from 13th St Trolley Station to 36th St Trolley Station. Cost $2.50 per ride. Allow 15 to 20 minutes travel time each direction.
Walking: Distance 1.9 miles from the hotel, via one of the three pedestrian-friendly bridges of Market, Chestnut, or Walnut Streets. Allow 40 to 45 minutes each direction.

TOUR #4: Friday, March 30th from 11:00am-12:00pm. Tour of the Archives of the Penn Museum. This tour is $20 and space is limited to 20 people. To register for this tour click here. The Archives of the Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) house an extensive photograph collection of Penn excavations in the field. Senior Archivist Alessandro Pezzati will guide you on a behind-the-scenes tour of rare photographic prints of pioneers in the field of archaeology and anthropology from around the world, ranging from the 1860s to the 1920s. Tour cost includes discounted admission to the Penn Museum!

Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the Penn Museum, located at 3260 South Street on Penn’s campus.

Public transit: 69th St direction MFL (Market-Frankford Line) from 13th St MFL Station to 34th St MFL Station. Or Westbound trolley lines 10, 11, 13, 34, 36 from 13th St Trolley Station to 36th St Trolley Station. Or #42 Bus from Walnut & 12th to 34th & Convention. Cost $2.50 per ride. Allow 20 minutes travel time each direction.
Walking: Distance 2 miles from the hotel, via one of the three pedestrian-friendly bridges of Market, Chestnut, or Walnut Streets. Allow 40 to 45 minutes each direction.

Title: VRA 2018 – Philly: And now for something a little bit different…Posters, Sponsors, Raffle and a Special Guest

We would like to invite you to attend one of the biggest social events of the season, or at least of our VRA 2018 Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The Happy Hour: Posters, Sponsors, and Raffle event will take place on Wednesday, March 28th, from 5:30-7:30. Start your evening by visiting with VRA sponsors as they showcase their products and services. Enjoy some cheese and a glass of wine (or non-alcoholic beverage) while you mingle with the poster presenters and learn more about their research and projects. Catch up with friends as you peruse the array of wonderful raffle prizes provided by sponsors, VRA Chapters, and other generous individuals. Buy your tickets, and then prepare for your number to potentially be called by our surprise guest MC! (One of Philadelphia’s most famous citizens.) Join your colleagues and attend this years’ Philly version of a VRA tradition!

Some details:
What are the prizes?
Raffle tickets will be drawn for Individual Donations, Sponsor Prizes, Chapter Boxes, and a 50/50 raffle. New this year will be a gallery of prizes that you can peruse online before the conference. Items will only be on display at the hotel the afternoon of the actual Raffle. Look for an announcement soon that includes a prize donation form.

What is a chapter box?
Well, it is like those relics of the past, chapter baskets, but notably the container of choice is a box. And more importantly a specific USPS Large-sized, flat-rate, 12 x 12 x 5.5 inch box. We are asking that chapters contribute what they want to the raffle prizes, but that their contribution fit inside this box, and follow USPS postal guidelines. Then, after the winner is drawn, they can elect to have the box shipped if they don’t have room in luggage or trunk or bicycle basket. The shipping rate by the time of the conference will be $18.85 and we are asking the chapters to take on this potential charge. However, we want to make it super easy for you, so if the winner elects shipping we will just debit your bursary account automatically.

How will the raffle work?
Tickets will cost $4.00 each or 3/$10.00, and will be available for purchase at the registration desk during the conference, and before the Raffle event (up to about 6:45pm). You will also get tickets from Sponsors as you visit their tables at the Poster Session and Sponsor event. Participants can enter the raffle/s for the items they are interested in, and we will do one drawing per Item or Lot, with no recombining of tickets or automatic entries. You must be present to win a prize.

Philly: ​Murals and Artists and Libraries (or Archives), oh my!

Happy New Year! Today we’d like to tell you about some of the exciting tours we have lined up for the 2018 conference. Covered here are Tours #1, #2, and #5 as listed on the registration form.

TOUR #1 Tuesday, March 27th from 10:30am-12:00pm. Tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library and Archives. This tour is free, but space is limited to 25 people. To register for this tour click here. Shepherded by Allan Kohl, a unique opportunity for a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at the Library & Archives Department. PMA Librarians will provide a tour of the Library & Archives spaces, offices and the photographing services area. Not to be missed, attendees will observe artifacts from their Archive, and get a glimpse into the other departments and treasures of the PMA Library & Archives areas not usually shown to the public. To register for this tour, click here.

Please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the PMA Library & Archives at the Perelman Building (this is the building across from the PMA—the Library & Archives are not in the main building, originally the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building).

Here are some options:
Public transit: #32 Bus from Juniper and Commerce Streets to Pennsylvania Ave & Fairmount Ave stop. Cost: $2.50 per ride. Allow a minimum of 20 minutes each way.
Lyft: Approximate cost $10 per person for the trip to the Perelman Building and back to the Hotel. The cost is indicative of approximately 4 passengers in a vehicle. The Board will arrange for the Lyft service. Allow a minimum of 15 minutes each way.
Walking: Distance 1.7 miles from conference hotel. Allow at least 30-40 minutes each direction.

TOUR #2 Thursday, March 29 from 2:15-5:15pm. Follow up our keynote speaker, Jane Golden, with a tour of her labor of love. This tour costs $35.00, and is limited to 25 people. Viewing all of the murals supported by Mural Arts Philadelphia could take days and days, but in just a few hours you will get to know a number of them on the Masterpieces East trolley tour which will take you through parts of North Philadelphia and Center City to the east of Broad Street. You will see murals such as Common Threads by Meg Salesman, The Stamp of Incarceration: James Anderson by Shepard Fairey, and Start From Here by Tin Wei Lin. The tour will leave from and return to the Loews Hotel Lobby. Bring your camera and be ready to explore a portion of the mural arts collection via the dry and toasty mural arts trolley. The public tour season does not start up again until April, so be sure not to miss this opportunity! To register for this tour, click here.

TOUR #5 Friday, March 30 from 3:00pm – 4:30pm.

Todd Arsenault, Untitled, Oil painting, 2012

Reserve your Friday afternoon for Artists’ Studio Tours in the Grays Ferry Area. The Tour is free, but space is limited to 15 people. Shepherded by Jen Kniesch, an opportunity to have a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Artists’ Studios from local artists Todd Arsenault, Kris Benedict and Lindsay Deifik. Lindsay Deifik will showcase her prints, fabrics, drawings and sculptural processes and techniques, while Kris Benedict and Todd Arsenault, who share a studio, will provide a show-and-tell of their painterly figurative and abstract works and discuss their collaborative series. Don’t miss the chance to talk to local Philly artists! To register for this tour, click here.

Exact addresses will be given to participants at the conference and please note that participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the Artists’ Studios.
Public Transit: #12 Bus from Walnut and 12th Streets to Grays Ferry Avenue and 30th Street. Cost: $2.50 per ride. Allow a minimum of 25 minutes each way.
Lyft: Approximate cost $10 per person for the trip to the Grays Ferry Area and back to the Hotel. The cost is indicative of approximately 4 passengers in a vehicle. The Board will arrange for the Lyft service. Allow a minimum of 20 minutes each way.
Walking: Distance 2.5 miles from the conference hotel. Allow 60 minutes each direction.


VRA 2018 – Keynote Speaker, Jane Golden

We are thrilled to announce this year’s keynote speaker for our 2018 VRA Annual Conference in Philadelphia – Jane Golden.

Jane Golden is Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, overseeing its growth from a small city agency to the nation’s largest mural program and a model for community development around the globe. Under Golden’s direction, the Mural Arts Program has created more than 3,800 landmark works of public art through innovative collaborations with community-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofits, schools, the private sector, and philanthropies. Sought after as an expert on urban transformation through art, Golden has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2017 ACE (Mentor Program) Person of the Year Award, the 2016 Women of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal, the 2016 Paul Philippe Cret Award from the American Institute of Architects, the 2016 Woman of Influence Award from Pearl S. Buck International, the Philadelphia Award, The Hepburn Medal from the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center at Bryn Mawr College, the Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design, the 2012 Governor’s Award for Innovation in the Arts, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania Award from former Governor Edward G. Rendell, the Adela Dwyer / St. Thomas Peace Award from Villanova University, LaSalle University’s Alumni Association’s Signum Fidei Medal, and an Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Award. Golden has co-authored three books about the murals in Philadelphia. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and Moore College of Art & Design. She holds an MFA from Rutgers University, degrees in fine arts and political science from Stanford University, and honorary degrees from Drexel University, St. Joseph’s University, Swarthmore College, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Widener University, Haverford College, and Villanova University. In addition, Golden serves on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Penn Museum Advisory Committee, and the board of directors of The Heliotrope Foundation.

Jane’s work highlights the rewarding nature of collaborative work and creative thinking.  Mural Arts Philadelphia is more than an organization that creates works of public art; its complex projects defy concise definition.  They are about art, but they are also about collaboration, public history, civic engagement, restorative justice, and civic discourse. Just as many cities around the world have found inspiration in the work of Mural Arts Philadelphia, I think we will all find inspiration and motivation in Jane’s address on Tuesday, March 27th.

-Jeannine Keefer

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection

The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, founded in 1682 by William Penn, nestled between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, and former capital of the United States has much to offer in terms of history, art, culture, and food and it will be our home from March 24- March 29, 2018.  The city has a rich industrial past – in 1908 it marketed itself as the World’s greatest workshop with hundreds of manufactories (or small factories) dotting the urban landscape. Probably the most accurate description of Philadelphia is that it is a big small town. The current city was shaped in the period after World War II primarily under the guidance of Edmund Bacon who remained the city planner from 1948-1972.  He loved the city of Philadelphia and even in his 90s rode a skateboard in Love Park to protest exclusions in a re-design.


Founded by William Penn and made the center of the world by Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia is a city of firsts:
First planned city in America.
First public parks.
First paper mill.
First public school.
First institution devoted to science (American Philosophical Society).
First public library.
First post office.
First newspaper.
First hospital.
First volunteer fire department.
First university (this claim is of course challenged by other institutions).
First permanent theatre.
First Anti-Slavery society.
First 4th of July celebration.
First Congress of the US.
First American flag.
First Stock Exchange.
First turnpike road.
First Mint.
First municipal water system.
First U.S. printing press.
First World’s Fair in the US (Centennial Exhibition of 1876).
First Mother’s Day celebration.
First Zoo.
First Art Museum (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts).
First Girl Scout Cookies.
First computer.

Philadelphia is also home to the first International Style skyscraper, the former PSFS Building and now the Loews Hotel, designed by George Howe and William Lescaze – which will be our base of operations for our third conference in Philadelphia.  It is centrally located to the east of City Hall on Market Street and kitty corner from the historic Reading Terminal Market. The Reading Terminal was used up until 1985 (in the last years by SEPTA) and can be seen, along with several other Philly landmarks, in a quick stroll around the hotel.

Philadelphia has more public art than any other city in the US.  Sculpture is everywhere and ranges in type from Robert Indiana’s Love statue in Love Park, to the billy goat beloved by children in Rittenhouse Square, and even the Rocky statue at the foot of the PMA steps.  You will also find a lively mural arts program (tour info coming soon)! In addition to more historic art treasures there is an active contemporary art and gallery scene that has spread far beyond the traditional galleries in center city (tour info coming soon)! You will find many museums in Philadelphia and can checkout this (in progress) list of hours and fees.

Save the date!

The Visual Resources Association 2018 Annual Conference will be held Tuesday March 27 – Friday, March 30th at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Philadelphia, PA.  The conference theme is Workshop of the World. Save the date!