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Inside the Collection: SNAG Slide Archive

This month’s collections post is a little different. Instead of highlighting one artist in our Permanent Collection, I wanted to bring your attention a project the Curatorial Department just finished: the digitization of the Metal Museum’s SNAG Slide Archive.

The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) was founded in 1969, and its mission is to advance “jewelry and metalsmithing by inspiring creativity, encouraging education, and fostering community.” (1) SNAG donated their archive of 13,862 35mm slides to the Metal Museum in 2004, specifically for educational use. This archive includes portfolios of more than 330 metalsmiths of national and international significance, as well as a 30-year span of significant metalworking exhibitions.

One example of the many sleeves of slides in the SNAG Slide Archive.

“As the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the advancement of the art and craft of fine metalwork, our Museum is the perfect home for the SNAG archive, but accepting this collection brought its own share of challenges. The most urgent issue was conservation. Time is not kind to 35 mm slides. Many of the portfolios in the archives are decades old - slides are scratched, discolored, and beginning to deteriorate. A second issue was accessibility: Tucked away in the library, the slides can only be viewed by on-site museum visitors.” – Kimberly Bradshaw, former Metal Museum Registrar (2)

Before and after slide restoration of "Convergence in Gray & Green" by Jamie Bennett, c. 1975. Sterling silver, fine silver, enamel, acrylic. Photo Credit: Tom Lee.

In 2014, the Museum made the preservation of the SNAG Slide Archive a major priority, and Kimberly Bradshaw, the Museum’s former Registrar, applied for grants to help support the digitization of this collection. The Museum was awarded a grant from the John and Robyn Horn Foundation as well as an ArtsFirst Grant from the First Tennessee Bank Foundation. The Museum also received additional funding from Rio Grande, The Rotasa Foundation, and J. Cotter Gallery. With the digitization part of the project funded, the Museum was able to professionally scan the slides, and the images underwent extensive cleaning and color-correction. That same year, the Museum applied for and was awarded an IMLS Museums for America Grant to hire contract employees to enter and process the metadata associated with the slides. The American Craft Council (ACC) also agreed to host the digitized archive in their Library and Archives Digital Collection.

It’s been three years, but this project was finally completed at the end of 2018. The Metal Museum is so excited to share the SNAG Slide Archive with the world! Please check out the archive here!


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