Graduate School Portfolio

In this portfolio, you will find five projects that I completed as part of my studies at Pratt School of Information. During my tenure as a graduate student in the MS Museums and Digital Culture program, I pursued projects that reflect my interests in museum collection information management and preservation. Having learned new technologies I hope to be able to employ these approaches throughout my career and continue to engage in advanced methods of dispersing information. If you have any questions or comments about these projects, please feel free to email me.

Mediation in the Digital Age: Emotion, Memories, and Values
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Screenshot of the online collection's home page
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Screenshot of an artwork's page on the online collection site
Project Description: Digital photo cameras, camcorders, multimedia computers, and digital storage are rapidly replacing analog equipment, inevitably changing our everyday routines, memories, experience, and relationships. Meanwhile, with the rise of artificial intelligence, the social web, and gaming, the process of adopting newly invented personae is nothing unusual in popular culture and daily life. Mediation in the Digital Age: Emotion, Memories, and Values is an online collection that displays the contemporary art scene (the 2010s) in which artists from different countries use videos to question and provoke ideas in which digital media shape acts of our memory, emotive process, and values. Music and language are common threads weaving all ten works in the collection together, as artists use them as tools to rewrite traditional narratives around technology, politics, scientific history, and sexuality. The original works currently belong to different art institutions and artists.
Methods: I cataloged ten artworks by using metadata to describe the works on Omeka S site. I used Dublin Core as the base metadata schema and incorporated controlled vocabularies such as Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TNG) and Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT). Metadata Browse was set for Artist’s Nationality, Category, and Subject as some vocabularies in the three areas are shared by multiple items in this collection.
My role: I am the sole creator of this project.
Learning Outcome Achieved: Museum Information Management & Technologies
Rationale: This project demonstrates my ability to perform activities that relate to museums information management by using industry standards to curate an online collection and catalog artwork records strategically and creatively. The solutions I used in this project are applicable for museums to increase the accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability of their online collections.
Net Art Commission Management Plan for 661 Art Museum
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Concept map of the current status of net art commissions at 661 Art Museum
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Metadata field crosswalk
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Mock-up screenshot of a net art object record in TMS
Project Description: 661 Art Museum is a fictional museum that has commissioned artists and collectives to create new net art for their website for the past ten years. With their collection of 55 and growing commissioned net artworks, 661 now seeks to standardize their approach to organizing, maintaining, and storing both the artworks themselves and their related documentation. The project team spent a month drafting an integrated management plan in ensuring the storage and documentation of their net artworks are uniform and in line with industry standards. This proposal is able to allow 661 Art Museum to be better positioned not only to onboard future commissions but also to facilitate ease of administrative access and requests for research as well.

Methods: In order for the museum to address their goals in managing the net art commissions, we have identified the following objectives: 1. Create a numbering scheme for the net artworks that align with the museum’s existing numbering conventions, 2. Identify appropriate metadata in TMS and develop a vocabulary guide to effectively capture the net artworks, 3. Create database entries for each individual net artwork, and 4. Identify digital and physical storage necessities for the works. To draft appropriate solutions, we interviewed the Permanent Documentation Manager – Majida Mugherbel at the Whitney Museum’s Research Resources Department and researched reliable online resources such as Wikidata, Union List of Artist Names Online (ULAN), Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA), Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT). The final management plan we created includes the methodologies of the four objectives we identified, staff & supplies required for the execution of the plan, and the timeline for completion.

My role: This was a group project involving five other students. All six students in the group made the concept map and polished the metadata field crosswalk together. The rest of the work was divided. I mainly focused on filling out the fields of 661 Field Description, Examples, Vocabulary Control, and 661 Internal Vocab Description in the Metadata Field Crosswalk spreadsheet. Also, taking references from the current content standard used by the Whitney Museum, I drafted the numbering scheme and TMS data entry rules for the net art commissioned by 661 Art Museum.

Learning Outcome Achieved: Professionalism

Rationale: This project demonstrates my in-depth understanding of the technical challenges, ethical standards, and practical concerns that impact the museum profession in the field of net art collection management. It also reflects my ability to provide solutions to museums in a professional way with the awareness of the digital culture’s value.
Media Art Conservation in the European Union and American Spheres: A Case Study of ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and Whitney Museum of American Art
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Jeffrey Shaw, Legible City, 1988
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Nam June Pike, Fin de Siecle II, 1989
Project Description: Technology innovation has always led to changes in artistic practices and generated a rethinking of traditional concepts of what constitutes an artwork. In connection with media art, this departure reflects primarily new production and distribution. In recent decades, while media artists were systematically using new techniques and modes of presentation in their creations, museums' traditional tasks have been confronted by the challenges that come with mediating art that is performative, process-oriented, dynamic, and ephemeral. Using the case of conservation projects at both the ZKM and the Whitney Museum of American Art, this paper explored the methods, challenges, and ethics of media art conservation in both the European Union and American Spheres.

Methods: I interviewed Bernhard Serexhe — the previous chief curator of the ZKM, and Savannah Campbell — digital media specialist at the Whitney Museum of American Art. During our conversations, I had the opportunity to look at both museums and know how different social systems influenced art institutions' media art conservation. Meanwhile, I made use of scholarly articles & lectures on media art conservation, conservation documents & case studies of Nam June Paik’s Fin de Siecle II and Jeffery Shaw’s Legible City.

My role: I am the sole author of this project.

Learning Outcome Achieved: Foundation of Museums & Digital Culture

Rationale: This project demonstrates my ability to analyze and articulate the relationship between conservation technologies and cultural heritage institutions with individual viewpoints and interpretations well supported. The subject I selected for this paper – Media Art Conservation Strategies, is a debatable, constantly involving, heavily social, culturally related, and ethically sensitive topic. Both of the conservation cases I chose to include in this paper reflect their relevance in this field and the specific practice module used by their culture institutions that are affected by the social cultural and philosophical environment.
Analytics Report: MoMA Online Education Events
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MoMA Family Education Events Summary (October 10, 2020 - April 10, 2021)
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MoMA YouTube Education Summary (March 1, 2020 - March 1, 2021)
Project Description: In 2020, MoMA Education experienced dramatic shifts in visitor activity due to the COVID-19 shutdown. In response to visitor divergence from the long-term standard of experience-based learning, MoMA Education has strengthened its existing digital engagement over the year of 2021 with Massive Open Online Courses, Creativity Lab, and  Heyman Family Programs. This project aims to create effective methods for MoMA’s Education department to monitor their web analytics, maintain similar levels of digital engagement as peer institutions, boost their performance among target audiences, and define key performance indicators for future use. The analytics report will equip department leadership to better meet user needs, expand audience reach, and establish a future-oriented digital strategy for Education at MoMA.

Methods: Our team set out to provide a clear set of strategic recommendations, supported by critical analysis of site content and social and digital metrics, that can be applied to future MoMA Education events and digital strategy. The tools used for this analysis included Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, predetermined metrics, and communication with our client, Department Manager of Administration and Strategy Lyn Hsieh, and the MoMA Education department. We also collected site data from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMoMA, Tate Modern, and Chicago Art Institute. Because MoMA Education does not have a centralized hub on the MoMA website, we based our event tracking and related qualitative research off the page /calendar/.

My role: This was a group project involving four other students. The work was divided. The four parts I took charge of were collecting & visualizing & analyzing data of the User Diversity, the % of www.moma.org Users Also Visited the /calendar/events Pages, Family Education Events, and YouTube Education by using Google Analytics, YouTube Data Tools, and Google Data Studio.

Learning Outcome Achieved: Digital Technologies & Tools

Rationale: This project showcased my ability to effectively select and employ digital technology to support and enhance a broad range of museum and cultural heritage services in audience experience evaluation. It also demonstrates my proficiency in using digital tools to perform relevant tasks associate with data analytics and user-related museum activities.
Collections, Disasters, and Recovery: A Case Study of the Museum of Chinese in America Archive Fire
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MOCA's library and archives room at 70 Mulberry Street in 2020
Project Description: Collection preservation is an intense job that requires putting constant effort into it. Disaster planning might not seem a pressing concern for cultural institutions, but one single disaster could undo the work they did for years. In the past decade, many heritage landmarks were severely damaged by disasters. On January 23rd, 2020, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) 's Collections and Research Center located at 70 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, experienced a devastating five-alarm fire that put over 85,000 artifacts in danger. This paper begins by outlining the regular preventive conservation of collections. Then, by using the case of the fire at 70 Mulberry Street, it explored the entanglement of the real challenges the museum faced, disaster management plan, and recovery methods. At the end of this article, a list of guidelines was provided for museum collections, archives, and libraries.

Methods: I interviewed the director of MOCA’s Collections and Research Center — Yue Ma. During our conversation, Ma gave me an introduction about the mission and daily tasks of the Collections and Research Center. Also, she generously shared with me the details of how the MOCA collection department worked with other departments in the museum and other institutions to execute fire recovery in 2020, which was reflected and summarized in the paper. In addition, I made use of scholarly articles and selected case studies of preventive conservation strategies used by museums, archives, and libraries.

My role: I am the sole author of this project.

Learning Outcome Achieved: Research

Rationale: This paper illustrates my competence in research, as illustrated through my use of focused questions, methodology appropriate for research in information related subjects, and drawing conclusions based on my analysis.

© 2020 by Jing Zhao