Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores the Museum of Modern Art’s latest conservation and preservation efforts.
What is the difference between conservation and preservation? If you care about safeguarding film, it can be helpful to know the difference.
Conservation and preservation are two different approaches that focus on the physical state of a film element. While conservation can involve repairs or chemical treatments, preservation is decidedly more hands-off. Preservation involves peripheral actions that minimize deterioration and prevent new damage to the film object — actions like environmental controls, deterring pests, and creating access copies to minimize handling of the original elements.
Put simply: conservation counters existing damage while preservation attempts to prevent future damage. Together, the ultimate goal is to increase access to film heritage.
One institution working to demystify its conservation and preservation practices is the Museum of Modern Art. In the second installment of their Film Vault Summer Camp video series on YouTube, MoMA staff walk us through three films from their collection: Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1914/2014), Katharine Hepburn as Joan Of Arc in Technicolor Screen Test (1934), and Andy Warhol’s Kiss (1963–64).
As explained in the video, each film’s hands-on conservation needs are different and bespoke. For instance, in the process of scanning the nitrate element of Lime Kiln Club Field Day, the conservators decided to perform some digital clean-up. Meanwhile, Kiss was essentially left alone, warts and all, in keeping with Warhol’s artistic tendency to leave things “as is.”
The video is a good visual reminder that each film has different needs that require the expertise of trained professionals with both a technical and historical background in moving image film.
Watch “How does MoMA preserve films?” here:
Who made this?
During the month of August, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art is streaming the most-requested treasures from the gallery’s film archive and teaching viewers about cinema history. Virtual Views: Film Vault Summer Camp is being held en lieu of on-site appointments, which have been canceled due to COVID-19. In addition to a glimpse into their vaults, MoMA is streaming live Q&As with curators and historians. You can check out the playlist of Film Vault Summer Camp on MoMA’s YouTube page here.
More Videos Like This
- A wonderful and comprehensive documentary on film preservation: Lost Forever: The Art of Film Preservation
- Using The Man Who Knew Too Much as an example, here’s how Criterion restores a warped film
- Here’s a seven-minute virtual tour of the MoMA Film Preservation Center
- If you want to see what it looks like when nitrate film catches fire, check out this video
- The Library of Congress Celebrates 50 Years of Film Preservation
- Here’s a breakdown on the 4K restoration process for It’s a Wonderful Life
- Here’s an interview with Scott MacQueen, Head of Preservation at UCLA Film & Television Archive, on preserving Laurel and Hardy’s Perfect Day (1929)