Glue, Time, Humidity and Heat: Mastering the Elements of Tape Preservation

Typically, when we talk about preserving something in an archive we are looking at a time period of 100 years, if not longer. The New York City Municipal Archives still holds, for example, records of the Dutch colonial settlement in New Amsterdam that date from the 17th century.  Thanks to the work of dozens of skilled archivists and conservators, over decades, these documents have been and will continue to be preserved and made available to the public.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Archives’ video tape collections. It is likely that every tape in the world will become unusable within the next 20-30 years.

Digitizing the Greensward

Some of the most spectacular items in the NYC Municipal Archives are the 3,200 drawings in the Department of Parks & Recreation collection. Of these, 1,500 are related to the design and construction of Central Park and will be the basis of the Municipal Archives’ new book The Central Park: Original Designs from the Greensward to the Great Lawn, to be published by Abrams in 2018. The Greensward is the master plan submitted in 1858 as part of the proposal of landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux for the Central Park design competition.