September 4, 2008

Sarah E. Thompson and Abraham Schroeder (Day 2, Part 1 of the Afternoon)

Sarah E. Thompson (Assistant Curator for Japanese Prints, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Abraham Schroeder (Research Assistant for Japanese Prints, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

The Japanese Print Access and Documentation Project (JPADP) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)

Joint summary:
The collection of some 50,000 Japanese prints at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is the largest such collection outside Japan and one of the largest in the world; it includes everything from early Buddhist printing to works by living artists but consists primarily of Edo-period ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The enormous size of the collection, much of which was acquired in Japan during the Meiji period, made it difficult to locate individual works within the collection and impossible to publish a conventional hard-copy catalogue. Storage conditions were also often unacceptable by modern archival standards.
To address these problems, in January 2005 the MFA launched a project to photograph, catalogue digitally for website publication, and rehouse the entire collection. The photography, rehousing, and web publication with basic initial cataloguing are expected to be completed during 2010.
The first half of our double presentation will introduce the special problems of the MFA collection and the plans made for dealing with them; the second half will focus on the technical details of the project and the day-to-day workflow for both MFA employees and the MFA volunteers and visiting scholars (from institutions such as Ritsumeikan University) whose help makes the project possible.