The Museum of the City of New York’s digital team is proud to announce that we have moved into our new digital lab! For almost two years we have been working out of temporary space in the Museum’s research room.
The new lab was designed by Michael Ulsaker of Ulsaker Studio, Inc., and is fitted with state-of-the-art camera equipment. Mr. Ulsaker specializes in “designing high-end digital imaging solutions for commercial studios and museums.” In addition to us, he’s worked with the Widener Library and Sackler Museum at Harvard, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, and many other museum and commercial clients.
Our new equipment includes a larger copystand custom built by Mr. Ulsaker to fit our needs. It is equipped with a foot-pedal controlled vacuum frame that can accommodate 2-dimensional works up to 46″ by 46″ and which allows us to gently flatten artwork and photographs while photographing them. The new table is motorized and is adjustable from 9.5″ above the ground to 46″ high. It also has wheels so it can be moved out of the way completely to photograph large 3-dimensional objects or to slide back and forth so large objects can be shot in parts and then stitched together in Photoshop.
Our camera is the Hasselblad H4D-50ms which is now mounted directly to the wall on a motorized arm that can easily be moved up and down with a hand held joystick. It can also move in and out from the wall which saves space and time when framing up a shot.
The lab also comes with new high-end Broncolor Lightbar 120 strobe lights which are mounted to the ceiling on scissor arms attached to a Manfrotto track system. Each pack has its own Broncolor Scoro power pack which is also mounted onto the rigging system. The lights slide easily along the track and can be moved up and down smoothly to light objects of nearly any size or shape. Having the lights mounted to the ceiling rather than on floor stands provides a more stable and safer environment for sometimes fragile collections objects.
Mr. Ulsaker’s ingenuity has aided us through every step of this process. Below is an apparatus he designed and built just for us so we can quickly photograph negatives with the Hassleblad camera instead of scanning them. This really helps us speed up production on large collections of negatives and allows us to easily position the negatives below the camera and also raise them off the hot lightbox which could damage the negatives and cause them to warp.
We are extremely excited about our new space and are even more excited about all the new types of objects we are now able to digitize and make available to the public. Visit our Collections Portal to view more than 60,000 photographs of historic New York City. Look for 35,000 new images later this fall from the Museum’s prints, drawings, and maps collections.