VRA – More than Metadata

In the Metadata course last semester, we learned that VRA was created to help Universities manage their art slide collections beginning in 1968. Currently VRA4.0 is a popular and useful metadata standard for schools, museums and commercial business (like Getty) who manage visual collections. One of the benefits for members of the association is networking through the annual conference. The 2014 VRA conference provided me an opportunity for networking, an opportunity to hear about case studies and innovations in the visual resource information management field and some interesting tours of museums in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Philip Yenawine, Co-Founding Director of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) opened the conference with a practice session. VTS is a method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of art images and documented to have a cascading positive effect on both teachers and students. “It is perhaps the simplest way in which teachers and schools can provide students with key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards: thinking skills that become habitual and transfer from lesson to lesson, oral and written language literacy, visual literacy, and collaborative interactions among peers.”

Matthew Israel, Director of the Art Genome Project at Artsy.net gave the closing plenary about this start-up company whose mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Mr. Israel likened Artsy to Pandora where users can find art like art they already like. Artsy partners with 1,500+ leading galleries, as well as 200+ museums and institutional partners from around the globe to create their online platform for discovering, learning about, and collecting art with more than 125,000 artworks by 25,000+ artists from leading art fairs, galleries, museums, and art institutions. Artsy provides one of the largest collections of contemporary art available online.

Of the sessions I attended, I found two case studies from Shalimar Fojas White from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection most interesting. She talked about challenges choosing a content management system for data management that could work for their images and field notebooks. She also talked about her experience and challenges with a collection of 16mm films reformatting them for online access. You can find many of the VRA session slides online at http://www.slideshare.net/VisResAssoc.

The conference networking sessions, including a first timers breakfast and discussion session for emerging professionals, gave me the opportunity to learn more about the association and meet with both new and seasoned professionals in the visual resource field. I also took advantage of several tours coordinated by VRA. We got a look behind the scenes at the Harley-Davidson Museum & Design Archives at their custom automated compressed shelving for storing motorcycles 3 rows high. The Milwaukee Riverwalk tour offered a chance to look at some of the public art, architecture and historic sites in the city.

The networking and conference session were a great way to learn about the VRA and learn about current issues and solutions for managing visual resources. I would definitely recommend this conference and association membership for Library students who plan on working with image collections.



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