PHASE I: Technology Enhanced Learning Grant Funded Testbed

In February 1999, the University of Minnesota's Technology Enhanced Learning Small Grants awarded $10,000 for the proposal, The Scenic Spectacle: Digitizing the Scenery of the Early 20th Century Theatre. These funds were used to produce descriptive metadata for access to the images and to scan a test bed of images using a high-quality digital camera. The descriptive metadata was drawn from an inventory developed by the Performing Arts Archives. A theater graduate student, too, improved the quality of the description. By the time Phase I was completed, approximately 700 renderings were digitized.

Phase II: USITT Grant Funded

In April 1999, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) agreed to fund a second phase of the project. USITT awarded the University another $10,000 to produce 900 more digitized images. This funding permitted completion of the entire Twin City Scenic Collection, as well as some of the Holak scenery collection. By April 2000, the total number of images and accompanying records in the database had grown to 1,650.

Phase III: Freemason Grant Funds Completion of Project

From June 2000 - May 2001, a donation of $10,000 from local Freemasons made possible the digitization and description of an additional 400 images, including Holak and Great Western Scenic collections. Many of the renderings and images digitized during Phases II and III were specifically related to ceremonial performances in Freemasonry. This money also funded a summer employee and a 9-month graduate assistant from the Theatre Arts Department, to review the entire collection, perform quality control inspections of the database contents, and to describe all images digitized during Phase III.

The final database consists of 2,060 images and metadata, and faithfully represents the contents of the Twin City Scenic, Holak, and the Great Western Scenic Design Co. collections. It is an unparalled online research tool on early twentieth-century scenery motifs and conventions; freemasonry ceremonial performances; and artistic techniques in the performing arts. As Phase III is completed, planned enhancements to the site include additional multimedia and textual content on the project Web site, to further explain the interrelationships of discrete items within the collections.

Contact the Performing Arts Archives for more information about the scenic collections.