Treatment FOCUS: Digitizing Edward Hopper's Childhood Work
It goes without saying that COVID-19 quickly and drastically changed the way organizations like CCAHA operate. Looking back on 2020, CCAHA staff adapted gracefully to remote work and found ways to continue offering all of our usual services and programs remotely. That included our first-ever Virtual Open House in November 2020, a highlight of which was Manager of Digital Imaging Maggie Downing's presentation of items from the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center.
Prior to the Open House, in July and August 2020, Maggie conducted one of CCAHA's first virtual assessments, providing Hopper House staff with a Digitization Plan for a selection of materials from their collection. As the Hopper House describes, its Sanborn-Hopper Family Archive includes juvenilia and other materials from the formative years of famed American painter Edward Hopper (1882-1967), best known for his iconic painting Nighthawks (1942). The Family Archive includes Hopper's notebooks, first tools, photographs, and other items that demonstrate how his childhood experiences shaped his art.
CCAHA's Digitization Plan for these materials included written recommendations for prioritization, vendor requirements, workflows and staffing, metadata and file specifications, quality control, long-term digital preservation, and discoverability for the digital images.
The digitization workflow and recommendations in the report specifically addressed the selected artifacts, though most of the recommendations in a plan such as this can be extended to other archival materials held in the organization's collections.
In October 2020, the Sanborn-Hopper Family Archive materials were delivered to CCAHA for imaging. Selected pages flagged by Hopper House staff were digitally captured using a Phase One 100-megapixel digital camera. Then, high resolution files were created and provided on a portable hard drive.
Imaging for this project was completed at the end of December 2020. In January and February of this year, a team of conservators from the Book, Photograph, and Paper Departments at CCAHA examined a selection of the materials that were identified as high priorities for conservation treatment. A conservation survey and treatment proposal was provided in March. With these comprehensive plans in place, the Hopper House Museum can continue its work to preserve and make items accessible for future research and exhibition.
Our work with the Hopper House's Sanborn-Hopper Family Archive was made possible with funding from an NEH CARES grant. Above: Selected pages from painter Edward Hopper's childhood sketchbooks