institution: Hammer Museum
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension
The Now Dig This! Digital Archive is the first in a series of planned digital resources to be developed under a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This digital archive presents materials related to the 2011–12 exhibition Now Dig This!: Art in Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, which was organized by the Hammer Museum as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative, and traveled to MoMA PS1 and the Williams College Museum of Art. Now Dig This! was the first in-depth survey of the incredibly vital legacy of Los Angeles’s African American artists, including Melvin Edwards, Fred Eversley, David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, Senga Nengudi, John Outterbridge, Alonzo Davis, Dale Brockman Davis, Noah Purifoy, Betye Saar, and Charles White. The exhibition chronicled the influence of these pioneering artists to the creative community and artistic practices that developed in Los Angeles during this historic period and explored the significant contributions of African Americans to the canon of Los Angeles–based art. With the exhibition long past, and the catalogue now out of print, the digital archive represents an opportunity to give new life to Now Dig This! by making a wealth of resources available to scholars and curators around the world. It includes images of all works exhibited in the Hammer installation, essays and other texts from the exhibition catalog, archival images gathered by curators during their research, installation views from all three venues of the exhibition’s tour, advertising and PR ephemera, images from opening parties at all three venues, press coverage, and video documentation of related public programs at all three venues.
Our Web developers created a new conceptual and technical framework in order to add capacity to create the digital archives on the Hammer website. A zoomable photo viewer allows users to examine high-resolution images in detail. Streamlined essay and artist biography pages provide a clean, legible reading experience while accommodating embedded images and videos. A new subnavigation structure designed for the digital archive guides visitors intuitively through a dense and diverse collection of materials. Each component of the digital archive was created with researchers in mind. Aspects of the archive are based on models developed recently in the field of digital humanities, and in the work of institutions that created online scholarly catalogs as part of the Getty’s Online Scholarly Catalog Initiative. Research tools include a citation tool that provides references for scholars, interactive footnotes, downloadable PDFs of all essays, and a comprehensive bibliography. Described by the Los Angeles Times as a “game changer,” the Now Dig This! digital archive has been lauded by scholars since its launch, a reception that has redoubled the Hammer’s commitment to building more digital archives to provide access to hidden aspects of the museum’s exhibitions and collections.