I am thrilled to have joined Royal College of Music Museum as a digital preservation graduate intern and am happy to share my journey with you here. In sum, my work was to support the digitisation of museum objects as well as assisting with the long-term preservation of digital assets.

In the beginning I did an audit to identify all the current files we have which helped my manager Richard Martin and me to devise the best way to digitise and preserve the collections. Following this, I imported files into the museum’s database and added search capabilities, so that they can easily be searched and found for later use. Apart from this, I digitised items of the museum’s Mary Garden collection. This included taking pictures, researching context, and creating detailed catalogue entries. You can already see some items in the catalogue, but more are still being added.

Object number LDRCM.MG.2.21. A full-length portrait of Mary Garden, seated and holding a letter.
   Object number LDRCM.MG.2.2. A photograph of Mary Garden in the show costume of “Thaïs”, standing and facing the camera, with her left arm touching her head.
Object number LDRCM.MG.2.12. A full-length portrait mounted on paper of Mary Garden, facing slightly left, in the costume of the opera “Chérubin”.

During the internship I had the chance to learn a lot about digital preservation. I had some experience using the standard software tools, such as Adlib and Adobe Lightroom, but during the internship I got a lot more practice using them and learned how to use them for different workflows. Apart from this I also got the chance to work on tasks that are not standard in most museums, namely 3D scanning and high-resolution image delivery using IIIF, which are two very hot areas of digital preservation that I was happy to have the chance to learn about. I learned about the different policies that are in place at the Royal College of Music Museum and govern restorative preservation, digitisation, and data management, and how they interact with each other. Throughout the internship I also got chances to attend different training and workshops held by external organisations, which was great, because it gave me the chance to learn about best practices from different institutions at once.

The main challenge during the internship was the sudden change of plans due to Covid-19: because all museum objects and digitisation equipment was in the museum, I could not carry on digitising the collection. So I spent the last weeks exploring new ways of presenting the collections to the public digitally. While the presentation of 3D objects is still a while in the future, the delivery of high-resolution images with annotations using the novel IIIF framework may potentially be rolled out, and will make our current online catalogue even more appealing and attractive for new groups of users.

I am very happy about my time at RCM and all the training and good advice I received from my manager. I love the experience of supporting digital preservation in a cultural heritage environment and have learnt and benefited a lot from it.

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RCM Museum has in excess of 15,000 items in the collection; it is currently closed but you could explore the online catalogue and online exhibitions here: (https://www.rcm.ac.uk/museum/about/).

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