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Hasselblad Multi-shot Performs at the Met

19/10/2009 For years, Hasselblad cameras have been helping the Photograph Studio of Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, to document its vast collection of artworks.

MET - The Sacrifice of Jephtha's DaughterDetail from The Sacrifice of Jephtha's Daughter, Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, 1656-1740, Italian (Florentine). Made in Florence, Italy, 1722. Bronze, height 18-15/16 in. (48.1 cm.).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wrightsman Fund, 1985.

The Metropolitan Museum’s studio photographers provide images for a variety of clients, including the Museum’s in-house publications department, 17 curatorial departments, Merchandising, Communications, and the Image Library. They also support the in-house Web group and provide images for Art Resource, the Museum’s external image vendor - the gateway for anyone outside the museum who needs an image for an article, textbook, magazine, et al.

A breakthrough for the department came in 2006, with the Hasselblad H2 multi-shot. Says Barbara Bridgers, General Manager for Imaging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “It was wonderful to find a single camera that we could use to shoot works on paper, paintings, and large, three-dimensional works of art. “Whether we’re shooting 17th century American decorative arts, medieval armor, Renaissance drawings, Islamic carpets, Egyptian statuary, or European sculpture, when we enlarge the files, the curators and conservators see things they’ve never seen before,” says chief photographer Joseph Coscia.

This spring, Coscia used the multi-shot to capture the new American Wing. “The files are 18x31-inches. We’re not going to be shooting the extensive Wing collection again any time soon, so we wanted to get the maximum amount of information from every file,” adds Coscia.

The Museum cannot purchase every camera upgrade - note their use of the H2 multi-shot - so it’s fortunate that the H2s are still producing beautiful, high-quality images. Nonetheless, the Photo Studio has a long list of projects that would benefit from the H3DII-39 multi-shot and the new tilt-and-shift adapter.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - with the desire to push its imaging program to new places, and Hasselblad - with its high-quality, flexible cameras - have created the best images of its works of art the Museum has ever had.

For more about the Hasselblad-Museum of Art collboration, click here.

Text by Alice B. Miller