Museum Hue

Archival Conservation and Digitization - NMAAHC

Archival Conservation and Digitization - Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) needs professional, non-personal, work-for-hire media archival, conservation and digitization services.


The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) needs 2,080 hours of professional, non-personal, work-for-hire services to aid with archival and conservation activities, documenting, digitizing, and cataloging analog and born-digital audiovisual media collections and time-based works of art. The contractor shall assist with the inspection, evaluation, digitization, conservation treatment, documentation and quality control of film, analog audiotape and videotape, born-digital audio and video, and time-base works of art for reference, preservation, and/or access. The contractor will also be responsible for scholarly, academic research related to collections content and provenance, with a specific emphasis on independent and amateur productions, and have specialized knowledge in the area of African American cinema and visual art history. The period of performance for these services shall be between approximately August 12, 2019 and August 11, 2020.

These services shall include:

• Quality control and updating documentation of NMAAHC digital processing workflows

• Research into emerging best practices in the field and how to implement them at NMAAHC

• Assisting other media conservation specialists with documentation of time-based works of art

• Cataloging, inventorying, and documentation of collections metadata

• Using a vertical film rewind and inspection bench

• Inspecting and rehousing film elements

• Threading and viewing film on a, projector, ScanStation 5K scanner, and/or film viewer machine

• Assisting other media conservation specialists with playback and reformatting of videotape and audiotape collections

• Performing quality control on digitized analog collections materials

• Uploading and ingesting digitized content into the Smithsonian’s DAMS

• Creating a variety of access derivatives for moving image and audio files

• Undertaking scholarly, academic research on amateur and independent film productions and works of art related to content, provenance identification and technological history

• Performing basic copyright and commercial availability research for content

Under the guidance and supervision of NMAAHC Media Archivist and Conservator and other media conservation and digitization staff, the contractor will support the efforts of the museum to conserve and digitize museum collections, collections belonging to other institutions, and collections belonging to the public.

The project will take place over the period of performance mainly at the NMAAHC Media Conservation Labs located on the Mall at 1400 Constitution, Washington, D.C., the labs located at Capital Gallery, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., the labs, and at the museum’s conservation and storage facility at 3400 Pennsy Drive in Suitland, MD. The Capital Gallery and Mall facilities are accessible by public transportation, and a Smithsonian shuttle provides access to the Pennsy facility. Work will be scheduled at mutually convenient times for the contractor and the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) between the hours of about 8:00am and 6:00pm, Monday through Friday.


The contractor shall have experience with:

• Motion picture film, analog videotape, audiotape and grooved disc recordings, and corollary moving image and recorded sound preservation best practices and technologies

• Documentation of time-based media art works

• Archival film inspection and handling of Super 8, 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film

• Analog video and audio digitization workflows including transfer-monitoring and quality control

• Disk imaging software and workflows

• Database approaches for employing moving image technical and descriptive metadata schemas and field standards

• Moving image and audio collections inventorying and processing

• Scholarly research, analysis, and writing in the field of Cinema Studies or Art History

• Specialized knowledge in the field of African American history and culture

• The Museum System (TMS), ffmpeg, Adobe Premiere, Media Express, DaVinci Resolve, Wavelab, Audacity, ScanStation 5K digitization software, command line interface workflows

• Working with a museum collections management team

• Motion picture analog and digital production and post-production workflows

• Training can and will be provided on the job

The contractor shall do the following:

• Inspect analog film, audiotape, videotape, and other time-based art elements to evaluate physical condition and perform conservation activities as needed

• Work with the Media Archivist and Conservator to ensure archival, conservation and digitization workflows are properly documented and being followed

• Process digital files in accordance with NMAAHC workflows

• Identify, analyze, and differentiate between multiple instantiations and versions of the same work across different formats

• Create and edit cataloging records, and conservation documentation

• Assist in the writing of technical and workflow documentation

• Assist in quality control of workflows and outputs

• Assist NMAAHC staff with digital reformatting of analog videotape and audiotape collections

• Transcode digital video derivatives using ffmpeg and/or other NLE video software

• Perform collections and potential-collections inventorying, on-site and off-site

• Perform scholarly Cinema Studies or Art History subject specialty research on independent and amateur African American cinema productions and time-based art

• Research, identify, and document extant collections of African American moving image, recorded sound materials and time-based art at other national and international archives

• Present on research and NMAAHC media conservation workflows at pertinent conferences and symposium

• Attend meetings, workshops, and trainings at Smithsonian as required by COTR

• Project motion picture film, and digitized derivatives thereof

• Modify, or update collection cataloging records in Smithsonian DAMS and the museum’s database software - TMS

• Assist in liaising, and facilitating digitization, with outside vendors