Tentative Denver Agenda
SMMP List Server
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Board of Directors
Virgil W. Lueth
New Mexico Bureau of Mines
801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801,
Past Pres. & Newsletter Ed.
Anthony R. Kampf
Nat. Hist. Mus.
of Los Angeles Co.
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007,
Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203
Jean F. DeMouthe
California Academy of Science
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118,
Anna M. Domitrovic
6118 W. Lazy Heart Street
Tucson, AZ 85713
Gemological Institute of America
5345 Armada Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Jeffery E. Post
Dept. of Mineral Sciences, MRC-119
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC 20560
Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West @ 79th St.
New York, NY 10024
School of Geosciences
University of Wollongong
NSW 2522 Australia
Sept. 14, 2007
Denver Merchandise Mart
- 2:00 PM
2:00 - 3:00
Denver Exhibit: Lead Minerals
Please notify Jean
DeMouthe if you have specimens for our exhibit.
- Call to Order
- Approval of the Tucson Meeting Minutes
- Treasurers Report
- Membership Report
- Collections/Curators Committee
- Education Comm.
Denver exhibit, Tucson exhibit & program
- Best Practices initiative
- New Business
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The fabulous fall show in Denver is about to begin
indicating another half a year has passed since Tucson. Looking back on
the minutes of the last meeting, I'm always impressed on how many things
I had hoped to accomplish for the society by
this time but other projects/chores conspire to prevent my progress. I
enjoy the diversity of tasks a curator must accomplish but it seems one
must always be adjusting priorities. The lead editorial in the recent
Mineralogical Record calling on museums to photograph their collections
gave me pause and provided me the inspiration for this letter.
Initially the editorial on museums and mineral
photography caused me irritation. I did a quick review of some
and procedures" posted on our website and in my files and saw that most
museums have adequate provisions for mineral specimen photography.
is the problem?" I asked myself. In addition, there is nothing like the
words, "taxpayers" and
"constituents" coupled with
"goals" that always rubs me
the wrong way. I don't think anyone likes to be told how to do his or
her job, especially one like ours that requires delicate balancing acts
performed at a moments notice. However, I went back and read the piece
over a couple of more times with a more open mind and hopefully absorbed
the piece as it was intended - a plea for museums to become even more
accessible via documenting their collections via "high-resolution"
I speak from my experience on this subject and I
realize other museums have different realities but perhaps we do share a
few things in common. Portions of our collection have been photographed
since before my arrival (I believe Mark and Debra Wilson initiated the
photo documentation). We have our best pieces photographed
professionally when finances allow and I take digital images for
symposia, cataloging, and public request. Both of these approaches
require something in high demand but in short supply for museums
and money. Professional photography is not cheap, but I do believe we
get our money's worth when it is done. High quality specimen photography
by staff is time consuming and not something that can be done frequently
(or necessarily very well). However, well-focused and representative
images performed with a digital camera for the purpose of cataloging are
routine procedure. We keep original, silver-based slides/prints from
professionals in archival storage and generally use high-resolution
tiffs for printing/publication and publish low-res
JPEGs on the internet along with our catalog images. Our result
is an internet gallery with a potpourri of images of variable quality.
A point of contention I have with the editorial is
that publication quality images should have a priority over
"curatorial-quality" images. The latter is quicker, cheaper, and
arguably more important to the ultimate preservation of the specimen and
collection. They can be posted on the internet and the taxpayers can see
what we have. If constituents want high-resolution images, perhaps they
should pay for them. Although addressing the "financial factor" does not
necessarily mitigate the "time factor." Another important point to
consider is that many professional photographers retain copyright on the
images - so the museum does not actually own the picture. I know some
taxpayers who would find spending public money on something the public
doesn't own objectionable.
I hear and understand the call for photographing
museum collections. My experience and research indicates to me that most
museums are moving toward providing the "virtual collection" experience
to the public. Museum budget and staff limitations slow the pace of
making this a reality and we all know that activities that protect the
collection are the most important. As I said in the beginning of this
letter, priorities must be set and we work at a pace we can sustain,
financially and temporally. But, it never hurts to listen to calls from
the outside to make museums more accessible to all. Perhaps I have time
to take a few pictures before leaving for Denver...
wait, I need to catalog
donation 07-09 so I can exhibit the new pieces at the show...
but first I have to finish that manuscript for that special issue...
See you there,
Virgil W. Lueth, President