Preserving material at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York | Phase One

Preserving material at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York | Phase One


My name is Graham Haber. I’m the photographer
for the Morgan Library, a small institution in the city of New York, founded by J.P. Morgan.
He was a voracious collector collecting every kind of art but he was especially passionate
about books. The collection is over half a million objects but of those objects many
of them a made up of hundreds of parts. Digitization becomes a massive undertaking. From December 2012 to December 2013
he has made about 7000 images. We digitize parts of the collection as
books are created or for scholars on request or we digitize whole objects for
facsimile or for scholarship. The two cameras that we have
are the DT RCam camera bench with a motorized head, Schneider lens,
and Schneider electronic shutter. On top is an IQ180 which I
can also put on the 645DF and I can take that around the museum, I can do exterior shots, portraits,
I can shoot three-dimensional objects. It was clear even to the non-technical people,
the superiority of the Phase One system. There are things that the camera can see
that the eye almost can’t see. Often when I’m photographing things
and working with conservation, they’ll see things they didn’t
realize were happening. We are at 100% and we can go across the
image and check if we are holding focus. It seemed like a no-brainer to work
with Digital Transitions and Phase One because there was already so many
cultural heritage institutions working with Phase One cameras
and the Capture One system that there was a community we could rely on and they understand the needs of the community. The most important thing as
a cultural heritage institution is preserving the rare material. Only a certain number of people can
look at a 700-year-old manuscript without creating a lot of
damage to that manuscript but by having very high quality
imaging, there is no need for that. At the same time getting the
best capture, the best fidelity, the best color that is available. One of the prized pieces of our
collection is the Gutenberg Bible. That completely changed the dissemination
of knowledge in its time. Digitization allows a similar dissemination and so a similar revolution is going on now. It breaks down the walls of time and space and now it is accessible to the entire world.

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  1. I would love to see the entire process! This awesome use of technology focused(no pun intended) on preservation is fantastic and inspiring. I would love to see one of these masters work on a single item from beginning to finish and then post the files to Phase one's web site. Keep them coming Phase One…keep them coming.

  2. The people in the film touch old book with hands. This is a "NO GO". Never touch heritage with your fingers because there is acid on the tips. Increcible! Please have a look how katanas are treated. This is the way to learn how to handle rare books.

  3. This is the 2nd institution video I have seen today where the photographer is NOT wearing cotton gloves. Blows my mind!

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