Grants Help Searsport Museum Speed Up Online Photo Archiving Process

Caitlin Burchill

Updated 1 year ago

A Searsport museum is speeding up its process of putting the largest collection of historic photographs in Maine online. They have the Cascade Foundation of Rockport and the Maine Community Foundation to thank. Caitlin Burchill has the story. Every picture has a story to tell. “If you look at an old photograph, it’s like looking through a little window into the past. You can see what the people looked like, what they dressed like. You really just get a good idea visually of what a time you can never personally visit was like,” said Ben Stickney, a volunteer at Penobscot Marine Museum. But what happens when you have a collection of more than 140,000 images?”A photograph isn’t anything unless it’s being looked at and really the best way to distribute media these days is electronically,” said Stickney. The Penobscot Marine Museum recently received two grants to make the job of archiving these pictures online a lot easier, and quicker.”We came up with the idea of using a high end 35 mm SLR camera to do that so it would be an instant capture. The grant allowed us to get the camera and a lens and its just a huge step for us. It quadruples the speed that we can capture these images in,” said Kevin Johnston, Photo Archivist at Penobscot Marine Museum. It has taken six years for museum employees and volunteers to put 60,000 images on their website. They hope to get the remaining 80,000 pictures online in half that time.”What good are they if they are hidden on a shelf in a museum if no one gets to look at them? And I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve gotten so many collections in the past few years because we are making them available quickly online so everyone can use them for whether its just pleasure of research,” said Johnson. The grants also enabled them to buy two new scanners and computers, and a digital audio recorder. “You know the whole museum world is changing and to have another way of attracting people to your institution is really beneficial and this has such a broad appeal because whether you’re interested in something specific like fishing or you just want to see a picture of your town back in the day. It’s all there,” said Johnson. To view their photography collection online, you can visit Penobscot Marine Museum


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