Posted by: bluesyemre | July 18, 2022

Loveland Museum releases more than 1,500 digitized archival photos in online collection (Collection can be viewed on museum website)

The Loveland Museum has taken a step to opening up its archive of historical photos to the public, releasing a collection of more than 1,500 photos that can be accessed on the museum’s website.

Ashley Yager, collections manager for the museum, said the project, which has been in the works since around October of last year, has taken 1,520 historical photos of Loveland and added them into a searchable program where residents can go and find specific images of the Sweetheart City’s past. Each photo includes some information behind the image; previously, museum staff had to locate the physical copy of the photo for each request.

“With huge collections like this, it is really hard to do,” Yager said. “I am really excited that more people who are interested in finding Loveland’s history are going to be able to do it now.”

Loveland residents or any interested researchers can take to the site and find a wide array of historical images from Loveland’s past, from early 1900s photos of Cleveland Avenue to the inside of the Loveland Sugar Factory in the 1940s to residents enjoying the museum itself in the 1980s.

Searchers can look for something specific or enjoy the random photo selection, which pulls up a random array of nearly 30 images every time you visit the section.

While the project is fairly new, the work is not; former museum graphic designer Michelle Standiford had started digitizing many of the museum’s archival photos several years ago whenever she had spare time, Yager said.

But last year the museum was given a chance to tackle the project head on, receiving $5,000 from the Colorado Historical Records Advisory Board through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and National Archives Records Administration.

Yager said these funds were taken and used exclusively for staffing to take on the task of digitizing the collection of photos.

“We had the equipment to do it already, we just needed the staff to do it,” she said.

Katalyn Lutkin was hired for the task, taking on the role of digitization specialist in October 2021. She said that the process was fairly straightforward, pulling a box out of the museum’s archives, going through photos and comparing them to records already on file, all while checking for any sort of damage. She would then take the image and scan it into the database.

“I learned a lot about Loveland,” she said.

The project took around seven months before release, Yager said, officially launching around a week ago. There are still at least 1,000 additional photos in the main archive as well as thousands more in other subsections of museum archives that are yet to be digitized, Yager noted.

While Yager is hoping to figure out a way to keep the project moving to get the rest of the photos digitized, and the museum did not receive the grant again this year, she is excited that what they have done so far is ready to be viewed.

Both Yager and Lutkin said providing the collection online allows for far greater accessibility for Loveland residents to research the history of the town easily. Beyond helping to preserve the actual photos by not having to touch them or expose them to light as much, the collection can help a researcher go from a broad search to exactly what they need, Lutkin said.

“You can direct them to the website to help them limit it themselves to what they want,” she said.

Yager said she loves being able to provide this resource to researchers right away, adding she would hate when a researcher asked for an archival photo and it took a great deal of time to get it to them or museum staff had a difficult time finding it.

She said that the project took the museum’s archive and collection, which can oftentimes be just behind the scenes, and presented it in an easily searchable system to the general population.

“We are here to serve the public. We are here to preserve Loveland’s history,” Yager said. “Preserving it is fantastic, it is a great goal, but we really need to be taking as (many) steps forward as we can to give the public access to it.”

The online collection can be found be found by visiting the Loveland Museum, and clicking on the “The Collection” tab at the top of the page.

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