The greatest strength of the MU in Brick and Mortar exhibit is the wide diversity of its materials. Ironically, this also presents its greatest challenge. The images in this collection range from 36" wide architectural drawings to 2" film negatives. Our goal was to display these different sizes and types of items in a single, unified collection. With the help of digitization, as well as document and image editing, we have been able to attain our goal. Ultimately, we have been very pleased with our results.
The large-format drawings, which all came from the holdings of the B&I Archives, were digitized on a 40" Contex Crystal TX40 color scanner as TIF files with no compression, then converted into JPEG (with compression set at 12). The TIF copies are kept in a separate directory for regular Archives use, while the JPEGs were used to create this project.
Small-format items (such as articles, photographs, documents, negatives, and slides) generally came from our project partners and other contributors. These were digitized using a Microtek ScanMaker 8700 flatbed color scanner. Since these items are not intended for regular archives use, they were scanned directly into JPEG format and scanned with compression set at 12.
Opaque paper items like documents and photos were digitized using the Microtek ScanMaker 8700 flatbed color scanner. All such items were scanned directly into Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). JPEGs were extracted from these documents for conversion into thumbnails.
Transparent items (i.e., slides, negatives, microfilm, etc.) were digitized using the transparent media tray on the Microtek ScanMaker 8700 flatbed color scanner. These items were scanned directly into JPEG format and saved with compression set at 12.
Aperture cards and magic lantern slides from our project partners at Western Historical Manuscripts Collection were scanned at their facilities and then sent to us on CD-ROMs.
Large-format drawings were saved using Contex WideImage scanning software, then later retouched using Rasterex's RXSpotlight and RX Highlight software. They were then resized and thumbnailed using Irfan Skiljan's Irfanview image editing software. In some cases, Adobe Photoshop was also used for editing and/or retouching the images.
Small-format materials were imported, retouched and saved using Adobe Photoshop and/or Wilber & Sons' open source, GNU/GPLed Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program).
Once digitized and retouched as needed, all materials were resized, thumbnailed, and scaled down to 72 DPI using the Irfanview graphics viewing program. Finally, small effects such as drop shadows were added to certain images via Photoshop.
Final Image Specifications
Size: approx. 800X600 pixels
Resolution: scanned at 300 dpi, later scaled down to 72 dpi
Format: GIF and JPEG
Mode: RGB, indexed color or grayscale
Designing the Exhibit
Flash animation was created using Swish 2.0. GIF animations were produced using Namo Interactive's Namo GIF Animator 1.01 and Microsoft's GIF Animator. All thumbnails were made using Irfanview. The title graphics on each page were created using Adobe Photoshop.
Indexing the Collection
The MU in Brick and Mortar exhibit uses the Dublin Core metadata scheme and deriving its subject terms from the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus. As the exhibit's metadata system is currently in its preliminary stages, more information on this process will be relayed at a later time.