Alexa Templeton: Working with the Artpark Archives

Monday, August 12, 2019

During my internship at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, I was able to work extensively with the Artpark Archives. This project included checking the boxes with the master file in excel to ensure that the information was correct. Then, we would copy that information into a DACS [Describing Archives: A Content Standard] document in Word. Most of this was already done when I started, but I was able to shadow another intern who was working on the remaining boxes. The next step we took in this project was to pull the boxes in order [of their processing order], check the DACS file with the boxes again, and number the folders inside the boxes. As we finished boxes, we shuffled the shelves so that we could keep the boxes in order as a precursor to adding the "forever box" numbers. One mishap that we encountered after we finished numbering the folders and updating our DACS file, was the accidental deletion of this file. We were able to recover a recent version but had to go back and recheck some of the boxes. This was a great learning experience and an example of why back up files need to be available, also it showed the value of IT personnel.

            Other things that we had to take into account before adding box numbers, were the flat files and image collection. Morgan and I inventoried the oversized scrapbooks by counting the pages and taking their dimensions. Other flat files included posters, photos of the artists that attended Artpark, t-shirt designs, and original proposals from the artists. We cleaned and prepped the drawers which included taking the materials out of the drawers and assessing what was in them and how we could consolidate to free up drawer space for other things, especially the oversized scrapbooks. Once we had things laid out, we wiped down the drawers and put a layer of glassine for added protection since most of these materials are not in archival envelopes. We also put this paper between the materials that were showing their age. Once we went through all of the drawers and finished reorganizing, we were able to fit the scrapbooks into three of the drawers. Now that we had all of the flat file inventoried, we had to put that information with the box inventory and we then looked into adding forever numbers to all the materials that we have. I went through an Excel file that one of the interns created which divided the boxes into series and then had the boxes in chronological order within each series. I cross checked this document with our DACS file to make sure items lined up. Once that was done, I proceeded to add forever numbers to the excel document and reorganized the DACS file, so it was in order by the possible forever numbers.

            After reorganizing the DACS file and getting Heather’s approval of the "forever" numbers, I went through and added the Identification number to each box and to each folder. This will then be transferred to the physical boxes and folders at a later date. Once the ID numbers were entered, I moved onto creating the series descriptions. For the Artpark Archives, there have been three main series identified and later those series will be broken up further. The three series are Administrative, Public Relations, and Program Documentation. For the descriptions, I gave a general overview of what researchers could find in the series and gave examples of the types of material that they may find. Once I had those descriptions, I began looking through our inventory files that had content descriptions for each folder, so that if there was a PR folder in a largely Administrative box, I could move that folder with the box information into the PR description instead of the Administrative. For this part I was only able to look through the Administrative boxes and move the folder information from that series, the PR and Program Documentation boxes will have to be check by another intern.

I feel like I have gained a great deal of knowledge from this internship and I am satisfied that I was able to learn new things while also having the opportunity to apply what I already know. I feel proud of the work that I was able to accomplish and hope that it leads to future progress on the Artpark Archives. Working with the other interns showed me the power of team work because everyone put a great deal of effort into the work that we were assigned. The Burchfield Penney is a wonderful organization and I would recommend to anyone who has the desire to volunteer or intern to choose the Burchfield.


Alexa Templeton is pursuing her Masters of Museum Studies at SUNY Buffalo State College.