Successful Young Canada Works Project for Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum’s long-term project to digitally photograph everything in the collection is moving ahead in 2021. Heading the project since 2007, I am so pleased to have two university students join the museum this summer/fall for a 385-hour Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations program, funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Catharine Solomon and Christine Spenuk are now working with me to photograph a segment of the collection in high-resolution digital format. After two weeks of specialized training on-the-job, the team will soon be ready to create photographs of almost 900 artefacts, a process that involves many steps, exacting attention to detail, metadata collection and teamwork. The entire process is written up in the 50 page Image Procedure Manual I have written, so there is a written guide as well.

Catharine Solomon is being trained as the artefact handler for the project and is tasked with the safe and proper movement of artefacts. She plans the shot order and the movement of the artefacts from the storage rooms to the photography studio where she prepares the objects for photography by removing storage mounts. After placing an artefact on the photo backdrop, she works with the photographer to perfect the composition of the shot, moving the artefact slightly in order to capture its most photographic angle, and it’s most important features.

Christine Spenuk is the photographer on the project. She is bringing her passion for photography and her image software skills to the work. For the project, Christine is being trained in the photography requirements for this project, which include issues such as lighting, composition, exposure, and depth of field. She will set up the photography equipment for each shot and maintain the equipment, making sure she captures each object at its best light and angle, allowing its most important features to be captured. She will also track all of the shots we take in a journal, which will be updated with every capture.

After the actual shooting is done, the team will process, resize, format and rename the image files. The metadata will be collected in an excel sheet which takes an exacting effort to get all of the details absolutely correct. The images will then be uploaded to the museum’s collections management database, along with the excel sheet metadata.

When the upload is complete, the new photographs are available to staff and researchers for use on our social media, website, publications and more. The final step for the three of us on the project team is to update the data sheet hard copies for each artefact. These data sheets are kept next to every single object in the artefact storage room, for quick reference. It’s a great system that merges the digital with the analog, making information accessibility very straightforward for the whole curatorial team.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada’s Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations employment program.

Suzanne Petersen, Collections Manager

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