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Define: Museum Quality

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  • Define: Museum Quality

    I've noticed this phrase used to describe the restoration quality of some people's work.
    What aspects/characteristics make a restoration "Museum Quality"?

  • #2
    Personally, I feel digital restoration is the opposite of "museum quality" and immediately go into jargon-watch mode when I see it. I suspect (hope?) they actually mean museum quality final printing, such as glicee, carbon, or silver-based final prints.

    As for physical restoration of the actual paper image, I would take it to mean the same it does for painting restoration or any other restoration of that type (ie: looks good, but won't cause further harm to the original). I'm not positive this exists for photographs.

    But, it probably just means "I've done work for a museum".
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    • #3
      Or maybe just really old and dusty!!


      • #4
        Cool...I'm "museum-quality"!
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        • #5
          Looking at it semantically, museums store old things, so I'd think it means a photograph that would last a long time, rather than anything to do with the quality of the restoration.

          If it had anything to do with the restoration, then I think Debbie's "old and dusty" looking is probably not far off the mark (which of course is what we're all trying to improve upon, so our work would never be acceptable )


          • #6
            Interesting question Vikki. To me, it would mean the work was done on the original piece in question. It could not be done through digital means, and it would take a competent artist to accomplish the restoration. How can simple questions be so complex?



            • #7
              Surprisingly diverse responses!

              I took it to mean: qaulity of work that would meet the standards of a museum (with an understanding that this would be the highest quality possible).

              Here is a link to the one that got me thinking about this


              • #8
                His prose is a bit overblown, but at least he spells out what he does. I suspect his intended audience will be immune to his hyperbole. He'll either get work or won't, based on the work he did on his dad's images, not due to his website.

                I like his consumer site a lot more.
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                • #9


                  Seems like a suitable thread to post the above info.

                  (Moderators please feel free to move it if it is better as a new topic, or is this site old news here?)

                  Stephen Marsh.


                  • #10
                    Good reading, Stephen. Thanks for the links


                    • #11
                      I suppose that phrase is thrown around alot to mean something reconditioned to extra nice condition. To me museum quality merely means restoring something to no more that its original condition. Its intrinsic value (in that pristeen condition) as an antique makes it worthy of museum placement.

                      I divide my definitions of my work to my clients into 4 areas


                      the first, restoration, never intends to take the image beyond its original condition. The remaining 3 all do something to change that original condition to something the cameral did not photograph. For example an old underexposed image is restored to its pristeen underexposed condition then its exposure is modified to a more estheticly pleasing albeit artificial (as far as the original camera is concerned) state.

                      So I think of museum quality as an image whose original condition was lost to the ravages of time then restored to the image as it existed originally. Then it can be accurately displayed in a museum as an example of antique photography. Anything beyond that may be nice to look at, even desired but not a museum piece by a purist definition.



                      • #12
                        It looks like he does the same thing we would on the "Torture Test", charge more monew, and print it on a better than my Canon BJC-3000. Hopefully he does better work that I have been able to do on the "torture Test"!


                        • #13
                          Hi all

                          Museum quality that's a tough one. To me it's one of those undefined terms that are thrown around however one sees fit. Sort of like the terms "archival" or "acid-free" (don't get me started!!!). Catch words used to appeal to the target audience even though it has no true definition.

                          I like to think my conservation treatments are museum quality, and yes I've worked for many many museums but that's a pretty bold thing to state in writing about one's work. I'd much rather show examples of the work I've done for many different people over the years and let the client decide if it's to their standards.

                          After looking at that website I just wonder why the same (museum) quality wasn't given to the writing. But that aside digital imaging in most museums is still at its infancy and I'm fairly sure the standards for "quality" are still being determined.

                          I know a year ago the Colorado Digitization Project (they provide money , equipment and training to museums for digital reproduction projects) was still trying to figure out what equipment to use, how big the images needed to be, the best way to store the images and how to print them. They along with others were trying to help set a standard. But they found that the technology changes so quickly any standard would be out of date by the time the print hit the paper.

                          Anyway, I'm just not sure you can define "museum quality" when it comes to digital images just yet.

                          Just a bunch of thoughts I had.



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