Following Hurricane Sandy last October, AMIA student chapter members and NYU MIAP Students joined local archival professionals, alumni, and volunteers in helping the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center to recover and restore their video collection.
As a result of the storm, almost the entire collection of video and file-based materials at Eyebeam had been submerged in 3 feet of dirty, contaminated water from the Hudson River and sewage pipes, making everything vulnerable to deterioration and the eventual inability to recovery the data if the items were not cleaned and dried properly over the days immediately following.
In reaction to Eyebeam’s call for help AVPreserve Senior Consultant Kara Van Malssen, AVPreserve President Chris Lacinak, and Anthology Film Archive Archivist Erik Piil came in to take on the recovery and care of the 1,000+ materials contaminated, as well as leadership of the volunteers working to recover and stabilize the collection.
The first recovery efforts began 3 days after the storm, with staff and media experts biking and walking to Eyebeam with whatever supplies they could gather and transport. Over the next day as the call for volunteers went out, people came in ready to work. Soon, with more supplies on hand, workflows and procedures were in place and volunteers put to work. Gallons of water were brought in to help remove the contaminated water and residue from media and containers.
Over those following days groups of volunteers worked to decontaminate and clean each media item and case individually. After cleaning the materials were left to air dry. By the end of 3 days over 1,300 media items were cleaned and stabilized thanks to the help of close to 40 people.
In May, Kara Van Malssen published a case study on the recovery of the Eyebeam Art+Technology Center collection. The study looks at the impact of the flood, the recovery plan utilized, equipment used, as well as some unexpected challenges and tips for a recovery effort. Kara’s paper not only provides information on running a recovery effort, but also how best to prepare.
See more on AVPreserve’s blog here.
Kara’s case study can be found here.
A short video of the recovery efforts is located on vimeo: Recovering Eyebeam’s Archive