Tag Archives: preservation

Mochi’s Silhouettes

Ugo Mochi is not a household name.  But his artwork is known and admired by many.  Mochi was best known for his animal silhouettes.  Created from paper with details to scale, these silhouettes are Mochi’s greatest contribution to art as well as to the study of the natural world.  [UgoMochi.com, history section, accessed 2/1/17]

The New York Zoological Society’s (now the Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo was a favorite spot for Mochi.  He used Zoo animals when creating his most famous book, Hoofed Mammals of the World (1953).  A few years after his death in 1977, Mochi’s daughters donated to the Zoo the 40 original plates used in the Hoofed Mammals book.  WCS adapted some of his silhouettes in logos and exhibit graphics.

Over time, however, the plates began to deteriorate.  Silhouettes became dislodged from their matting.  The plates became dirty.  An earlier Greater Hudson Heritage Network (GHHN) grant identified the issues facing these plates.  And the WCS Archives, recognizing the importance and aesthetic value of these pieces, applied for and was awarded a grant from GHHN to restore most of them (30 of 40).

Before image of Plate IV

After image of Plate IV










Conservator Paula Schrynemakers was brought in to do the delicate work of stabilizing the pieces and restoring them for long term preservation.  Each piece required individualized treatment.  Wheat paste was used to re-affix dislodged silhouettes.  Surface cleaning was done to return the plates as close as possible back to their original beauty.

Before image of Plate IX

After image of Plate IX










Even with Paula’s wonderful work, as she pointed out in her treatment analysis, “although they are not brittle, the silhouettes are extremely fragile.”  As the WCS Archives moves forward with exhibition plans for various items in the Archives, we will be following her excellent suggestions for exhibiting these plates.

With the Mochi family’s permission, we have also digitized the images.  You can check out the before and after pictures here.

Getting Data Out Of Its Floppy Cage

Our FC5025 controller connected to the TEAC FD-55GFR 5.25″ floppy disk drive.

The new year and holidays brought with it gifts and offerings for our legacy digital project!

Upon returning from our holiday break, we were greeted with the arrival of our TEAC FD-55GFR 5.25″ floppy disk drive along with Device Side Data’s FC5025 USB 5.25″ floppy controller.

We decided on purchasing a 5.25″ floppy disk drive of off Amazon and a FC5025 controller. The FC5025 controller is essentially a circuit board that liaises between your legacy 5.25″ floppy drive and a modern computer running a contemporary operating system. These two components are the essential building blocks to getting data off of 5.25″ floppy through disk imaging because they interface between an older, circa-1981 floppy disk drive and a modern computer. Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities’ (MITH) Vintage Computer site does an excellent job of breaking down the FC5025’s connections and instructions for imaging floppies. The card comes with drivers to enable connections to Windows (98, 7, 8, XP), Mac (OS X), and Linux operating systems.
Continue reading

Early Photo Retouching and Other Reflections from the WCS Archives Photo Preservation Project

Wildlife Conservation Society_11357_Southern Bald Eagle_BZ_06 26 29In the first phase of a project whose eventual purpose is to conserve the WCS Archives’ collection of nearly 50,000 photographic negatives, the assessment of some 10,000-plus of these has been a mostly shared endeavor between myself and another intern. Dating from 1899 to 1946, this first batch of negatives is of interest from more than one perspective:  not only do the images constitute a visual timeline of WCS’s history and the histories of zoos, aquariums, and wildlife conservation, the negatives themselves can also be seen as artifacts that represent milestones from within the discipline of photography. Among other things in the collection, we see the transition from the use of glass to film negatives, as well as early attempts at photo manipulation.  Continue reading

First Phase of Our Photo Preservation Project is Complete

Picture1 As we’ve been reporting, the WCS Archives has spent the first half of the year working on a project to preserve our photographic negative collection.  Funded by the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials, the project serves as the first phase in what we intend to be a larger initiative to preserve the entire collection.  During this first phase, we identified and rehoused the collection’s first 10,267 photographic negatives.  This included 2,111 dry plate glass negatives and 8,156 acetate film negatives; of these, all of the glass negatives and 60% of the acetate negatives were 5×7”, and 40% of the acetate negatives were 4×5” or smaller.  Continue reading

Preserving Herpetological History… and Beyond

Wildlife Conservation Society_009962_Ball Python Snake_BZ_09 09 25In January 2016, the WCS Archives began a project to preserve WCS’s historical photographic negatives. Since then, another intern and I have been going through these negatives one by one, inspecting them and creating an inventory, noting any information we can glean about their title, date, and physical condition. To ensure their long-term preservation, these negatives are being rehoused and placed into new acid-free envelopes and boxes. The approximately 50,000 negatives in this collection include both acetate film and glass plate negatives, and the oldest images date back to 1899. During this first phase of the project, I have been working with around the first 10,000 negatives in the collection, which represent the earliest of WCS’s photos, ranging from 1899 to the early 1940s.  This project was funded by the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials.

Continue reading

WCS NDSR Project Post: “{Let’s Get Digital} Recap”

Our NDSR Resident, Genevieve Havemeyer-King, was recently one of the organizers of a free, all-day symposium on digital preservation held under the auspices of the Metropolitan New York Library Council, the Archivists Round Table of New York, and the Brooklyn Historical Society.

As an attendee, I can say that the event was a rousing success!  In her latest post on the NDSR-NY Resident blog, Genevieve showcases the day’s highlights and links to slides and other resources from the presentations and workshops:


Check it out!

WCS NDSR Project Post: “The Digital Ecosystem at the Wildlife Conservation Society”

Graphical renderings of the “Ocean Wonders” exhibit and features at the NY Aquarium. Image courtesy of Naomi Pearson, EGAD at WCS.

Graphical renderings of the “Ocean Wonders” exhibit and features at the NY Aquarium. Image courtesy of Naomi Pearson, EGAD at WCS.

WCS’s National Digital Stewardship Resident, Genevieve Havemeyer-King, has written a post about our digital archives pilot project on the NDSR-NY Program blog:


In the post she “introduce[s] a few complex and exciting digital preservation challenges [she’s] encountered in each department” that she is surveying for the project.

Check it out!

NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Grant

The WCS Archives is thrilled to announce that we’ve been awarded a Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Planning Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This grant will allow us to develop the WCS Archives Conceptual Preservation Design Plan. Founded upon preservation strategies that balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact, the plan will serve as a crucial first step in the Archives’ development of a new space to preserve our unique historical collections.  Continue reading

Conservation of another kind

MS_150311_0490-edit-resized.jpgAs its name implies, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) holds the conservation of wildlife and wild places as its central mission.  Not surprisingly, many of the posts here on “Wild Things”—the blog for the WCS Archives—highlight WCS’s historical conservation efforts.  This post, however, features a different kind of ‘conservation’: recent work performed on some of the Archives’ own materials. Continue reading