The Foundation aims to make the photograph collection materials available to scholars and students by cataloguing and digitizing the originals and setting up an on-line database. A computerised cataloguing system has been devised which enables Federico Zeri’s original order and annotations to be saved.
In 2003, Stefano Tumidei (Università di Bologna) and Laura Gasparini (Fototeca della Biblioteca Panizzi di Reggio Emilia) have co-ordinated a group of young art historians who, in accordance with the director and the scientific commitee, has pursued the following objectives:
to inventory and re-order the photograph collection
to monitor its state of preservation
to design a catalogue tailored to the collection characteristics and ordering principle, and conforming to ministerial ICCD cataloguing standards
to produce specific cataloguing software enabling the photographic library to be consulted on line.
The laboratory where the Zeri Photo Collection is being catalogued
Digitization of photographs
It is planned to convert all Zeri’s iconographic material to digital form (B/W and colour prints, slides, postcards and all other forms of image found in the archive).
Where reproductions have annotations or stamps on the back, the back is also digitized.
Digitization enables images to be viewed via the database on line, and thus preserves the originals.
The original black and white or colour photographs are digitized in 24-bit RGB colour space in uncompressed Tiff format, size 3072 pixels for the main side as per national ICCD-Level A standards, and stored on DVDs.
Metadata, recorded in the image's header, track the image's history including adjustments made in Adobe Photoshop
Tiff files are converted to high-definition JPG format for intranet consultation at user computer stations in the Foundation.
From the on-line database, which may be consulted free of charge via the website, images are viewed in low definition (640 x 480 pixels) JPG format.
Inventorying, re-ordering and conserving the originals
Federico Zeri left the photograph archive about 80% in order. Special care had been taken with its kernel of “Italian Painting”. In line with present archive cataloguing technique, an inventory was made of the status quo from which re-ordering might proceed, scrupulously in keeping with Zeri’s own classification criteria.
All iconographic material found in the original containers was stamped and inventoried in numerical order.
Photos not yet inventoried, in their original folders
The definitive archive system
From the contents inventory of the status quo a survey plan could be drawn up on the state of preservation of the originals; photographic procedures could be identified and items set aside for restoration as needed.
The kind of deterioration found was largely mechanical, due to consultation and previous housing in unsuitable containers.
Conservation and monitoring of materials follows the international standards for photographic document storage (ISO 10214). The cardboard containers used are 100% acid free cellulose, and photographs are individually placed in transparent polypropylene (PP) envelopes so they can be viewed but not touched.
The photograph library rooms are air-conditioned and have devices to control temperature and relative humidity.