Libraries can contain unexpected treasures. Who would have guessed that the Frick Art Reference Library possesses a collection of seventy-four photographs of artists in their Paris studios circa 1885 to 1892? The photographs were given to the Library in 1940 by the American polar artist Frank Wilbert Stokes (1858–1955). Stokes had much earlier (1916–19) tried unsuccessfully to persuade Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) to visit his studio and buy some of his paintings.
The recently completed NYARC digitization project “Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century,” was the product of a collaboration between the Frick Art Reference Library and the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archive. Like many collaborative digital projects, “Documenting Gilded Age” exposed both the challenges and unique opportunities that come from transforming physical items – in this case rare, ephemeral exhibition catalogs – into digital form.