The Conservation and Art Materials Encyclopedia Online (CAMEO) is an electronic database that compiles, defines, and disseminates technical information on the distinct collection of terms, materials, and techniques used in the fields of art conservation and historic preservation.
The CAMEO project team has researched, entered and reviewed information over 10,000 materials. The team is composed of:
- Michele Derrick, Conservation Scientist, MFA
- Arthur Beale, Chair, Conservation and Collections Management, MFA (1997-2006)
- Matthew Siegal, Chair, Conservation and Collections Management, MFA (2007-present)
- Richard Newman, Head, Scientific Research Department, MFA
CHARISMA/CAMEO cooperation organizer:
- Jean Louis Boutaine, Scientist emeritus, C2RMF
Web design and implementation:
- Josh Sostek - MFA Senior Developer
- Tim Benson - Contract Developer
Imaging and Photography:
- Keith Lawrence, Scientific Photographer, MFA (2000-2011)
History of CAMEO
In 1997, the database, formerly called the Conservation and Art Materials Dictionary (CAMD), was developed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) by the Conservation and Collections Management Department under the direction of Arthur Beale. An initial grant from the Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) along with additional resources and support from the MFA enabled the first version of the database to be placed on the Internet in November 2000.
In the development phase, to ensure complete coverage from the diverse specialties within museums and conservation, six initial contributors/reviewers (Gordon Hanlon, Pamela Hatchfield, Teresa Hensick, Meredith Montague, Ivan Myjer, and Roy Perkinson) supplied entries of materials and reviewed draft versions of the database. Michele Derrick, the principal investigator, compiled, consolidated, condensed, and entered available information into the database program. The MFA Webmaster, Phil Getchell, and consultant John Klick developed an online application that allowed interactive, searchable access to the data. After beta testing by the conservation and curatorial staff at the Museum, the database was uploaded to the Internet for use and review by the worldwide conservation community. It was immediately hailed as an important resource for the field.
Soon it was deemed important for CAMEO to have an upgraded structure as well as for its coverage and content to be expanded into a more comprehensive and well-rounded encyclopedic resource for the art conservation and historic preservation fields. In October 2002, a two-year National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum Library Services (IMLS) allowed the transport of CAMEO to a SQL based system to better handle the volume of users and information. Major additions to the database included added auxiliary pages for images and documentation of the authority trail. A companion database containing a directory of conservation-related organizations was also added. The IMLS grant ended with all projected tasks completed, including the addition of approximately 6,000 images. In July 2005, a two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided support to upgrade the appearance and user functionality of CAMEO. Mediatrope, a professional web development firm, was selected to redesign the website and implement upgrades. New features include auxiliary COMPARISON pages and a third database for information on the Forbes Pigment Collection.
In 2013, with a grant from the Kress Foundation, CAMEO was transferred from the proprietary software and placed on a MediaWiki platform by Josh Sostek, MFA Web developer, and Tim Benson, consultant. This major transformation heralds a new era for CAMEO because it opens the database to the option of data entry by many volunteer editors. This update provides the flexibility to keep editorial restrictions while also allowing easier, wide-spread contributions for revising and expanding the scope and content of our multi-functional information source.
This transformation of CAMEO to a wiki also included the creation of two new major information resources. These are both related to the use and analysis of natural and synthetic dyes in works of art. The first resource is the documentation of the Uemura collection of dyed fabrics that was acquired by the MFA in 2008. A database containing the original Japanese text with its English translation was created by Masumi Kataoka, Sherman Fairchild Fellow in Textile Conservation. Images of all of the dyed samples were collected by Keith Lawrence, Scientific photographer. The second new resource is seminal to the scientific art analysis world because it provides critical analytical parameters for the analysis of synthetic and natural dyes using state-of-the-art liquid chromatographic and mass spectrometric equipment. This database will contain the results from a joint project funded by NSF between Richard Newman, Simmons College, and Boston University. Integral to this data is the analysis of all the samples in the Uemura collection.
In 2006, the MFA formed a collaborative agreement with EU-Artech (Access, Research and Technology for the conservation of European Cultural Heritage) to increase the international scope of CAMEO. In 2010, this partnership was redeveloped and extended with the CHARISMA (Cultural Heritage Advanced Research Infrastructures) European research project consortium that focuses on providing transnational access, doing cooperative research, and networking applications in the field of cultural heritage conservation.
With this partnership, members have contributed European language synonyms, images, and information to CAMEO as well as provided systematic review of the material records. To date, over 9000 non-English synonyms have been added to the database as an aid for searching records. Now users can enter either English or non-English terms into the MATERIAL search box. Both the primary name and the synonym list are searched simultaneously to locate a material record. This collaboration has helped expand the reach of the website into a broadly-used international resource. Examination of the website statistics shows that CAMEO has logged over 250,000 page views by users in 166 countries over the past 12 months.