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William Brumfield Russian Architecture Digital Collection

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Project history

For several decades, Professor Brumfield has devoted his career at Tulane University to the study of Russian architecture. An indefatigable traveler, skilled and prolific photographer, and inspiring public lecturer, he has not only produced an unrivaled collection of Russian architectural photographs but has also dedicated himself to the cause of popularizing Russian architecture and art outside of Russia. He has delivered more than 300 public lectures on his specialty at museums, libraries, and universities throughout the United States. Any one of the many thousands of people who have attended his lectures can attest to the revelatory effect of his images viewed on a large screen and accompanied by Professor Brumfield’s expert commentary. His photographic prints have been the focus of more than 50 formal exhibits hosted by college, university, and municipal art museums both here and abroad. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has accessioned a large number of his photographic prints and periodically acquires more, creating what Blair Ruble of the Kennan Institute has characterized as "a major resource [in its own right] for all who study Russia." Ruble goes on to assert that Professor Brumfield’s complete collection of Russian architectural photographs, now estimated to number over 100,000 images, "will be viewed a century from now with the same respect and appreciation as we now view the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection [of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian photographs] at the Library of Congress ... They form a truly remarkable achievement which can enrich future generations' understanding of Russia, if properly preserved in digitized form" (Blair Ruble, personal letter dated February 2005).

In 2001, a $30,000 grant from the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation made possible a pilot project to digitize 1,200 photographs, which in turn was instrumental in securing a major grant awarded in 2006 by the Reference Materials Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The project continued beyond 2008, the end of the grant period. NEH extended the project and provided additional funds to help sustain the project through 2012. Since 2013 the University of Washington Libraries has sustained the project with the goal of uploading all images and metadata into its digital asset management system, CONTENTdm. This goal was realized in 2016 when this collection of nearly 30,000 digital images was made public.

This digital photograph collection covers 38 years of photography (1970-2008) by William Brumfield. Professor Brumfield selected approximately 30,000 images from his collection of negatives and scanned them himself as TIFF image files. While scanning, using Adobe Photoshop, Professor Brumfield entered descriptive information about each image, usually the name of the building and its location, which Photoshop embedded in the images. The TIFFs were sent to the University of Washington for further processing and archiving, including converting the TIFFs to JPEGs, following specifications agreed upon (Download PDF) at the beginning of the project, producing the images displayed in this digital collection, as well as expanding the descriptive information provided by Professor Brumfield.

Terms of use

Copyright for all photographs – digital, prints, and negatives -- is held by William C. Brumfield. To order a reproduction or inquire about permissions, contact the photographer at williambrumfield [@] gmail [.] com

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