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Guide to the Howard Besser Museum Educational Site Licensing Project Papers, 1983, 1992-1999, and undated
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative History
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Museum Educational Site Licensing Project papers
    Date (inclusive): 1983, 1992-1999, undated (bulk 1996-1998)
    Number: IA20019
    Creator/Collector: Besser, Howard
    Physical Description: 4.77 linear feet (12 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Institutional Records and Archives
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Papers consist of reports, printed matter, correspondence, letters, memoranda, notes, surveys, agenda, minutes, legal documents, and photographs, 1983, 1992-1999 and undated (bulk 1996-1998), created and used by Howard Besser, Principal Investigator and other participants in the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project, sponsored in part by the Getty Art History Information Program. The records describe the genesis, development, execution, and evaluation of the project.
    Request Materials: To access physical materials at the Getty, go to the library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy . See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, some of the records may be stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
    Language: Collection material is in English

    Administrative History

    The Museum Educational Site Licensing (MESL) Project (1994-1997) was designed to explore the feasibility of networked distribution of digital museum content in educational settings. The Project grew out of two meetings held in March 1994, the first was sponsored by the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP), and the second by MUSE Educational Media. The AHIP meeting's purpose was to announce the launch of a digital imaging initiative; the MUSE meeting's purpose was to discuss the results of a study for developing model licensing agreements for digital media on CD-ROMs. Detailed planning for the MESL Project took place during the summer of 1994 and involved David Bearman (President, Archives and Museum Informatics), Howard Besser (Associate Professor, Information and Library Studies, University of Michigan), Eleanor Fink (Director, AHIP), Geoffrey Samuels (Director, MUSE Museum Multimedia Study Group), and Jennifer Trant (Consultant, and Manager of the Imaging Initiative, AHIP).
    The MESL Project was originally framed as a testbed demonstration project to bring together museums and universities to explore the administrative, legal, economic, technical and educational issues surrounding networked distribution of museum content for educational use. The organizational phase of the project was supported by AHIP and MUSE Educational Media. The second phase of the Project was supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and focused on studying the costs and benefits of networked distribution of digital museum information for educational use.
    The Project was officially launched in September 1994 with the initial call for participation. Over 80 museums and universities submitted applications; 6 cultural institutions and 7 universities were chosen by the Project's Managing Committee. The cultural institutions were: The Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA; George Eastman House; Harvard University Art Museums; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the National Gallery of Art; and the National Museum of American Art. In 1995, the Library of Congress was added. The 7 universities were: American University; Columbia University; Cornell University; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Maryland at College Park; University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint; and the University of Virginia.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    The records in accession 2002.IA.05, subject to review for permanently closed information, are open to qualified researchers. Requests for access will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
    The following types of records are permanently closed: records containing personal information, records that compromise security or operations, legal communications, legal work product, and records related to donors. The J. Paul Getty Trust reserves the right to restrict access to any records held by the Institutional Archives.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    [Cite the item and series (as appropriate)], Museum Educational Site Licensing Project Papers, 1983, 1992-1999 and undated, Howard Besser. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA20019.

    Acquisition Information

    The records in this finding aid originated in accession 2002.IA.05, donated by Howard Besser, Principal Investigator for the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project.

    Processing History

    A preliminary inventory of the records was made by Institutional Archives staff prior to 2004. In 2005 Sue Luftschein rehoused the material and encoded this finding aid based, in part, on the original inventory.
    The records arrived in no apparent order. The series arrangement in this finding aid is an attempt to reflect the areas of concern, and the products, of the project and its participants, based on the contents of the records themselves.
    Some items, particularly faxes on thermal paper, were photocopied for preservation purposes.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Papers consist of reports, publications, correspondence, letters, memoranda, notes, forms, surveys and questionnaires, brochures, pamphlets, clippings, press releases, agenda, minutes, invoices, contracts, and photographs, 1983, 1992-1999 and undated (bulk 1996-1998), created and used by participants in the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project, and collected by Howard Besser, Principal Investigator. The records describe the genesis, development, execution, and evaluation of the Project. The bulk of the records describe the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded phase of the Project.
    The reports and proposals included in the records outline the methodology for, and provide summary information about, the Project and its results during its Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded phase. Included are the grant proposal, written and submitted by Howard Besser, Principal Investigator, to the Mellon Foundation requesting funds to study the economic aspects of the MESL Project; technical reports submitted by the participating institutions; and two versions of the final report, The Cost of Digital Image Distribution: The Social and Economic Implications of the Production, Distribution and Usage of Image Data , authored by Howard Besser and Robert Yamashita (Project Manager).
    The data gathering records describe the selection process for participating institutions and provide information about the design and results of data gathering. The materials contain the institutional applications of the University of Virginia, American University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland at College Park, University of Michigan, Columbia University, the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, George Eastman House, Harvard University Art Museums, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of American Art.
    The evaluation process funded through the Mellon Foundation, which focused on the economic implications of the Project, is documented through surveys and questionnaires completed by the participating institutions. These records also contain documents describing the development of the evaluation process, the evaluation itself, and its results. These records contain correspondence between Besser, Jennifer Trant, Beth Sandore (consultant), and other individuals involved in the evaluation.
    Finally, the records contain publications and presentations produced by Howard Besser and participants in the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project, provide information about administrative matters related to the execution of the Project (specifically the Project's Advisory Board, meeting minutes, budget and expense information, and personnel records), and contain research and background materials collected by Howard Besser.


    These records are organized in six series: Series I. Proposals and reports, 1992-1999; Series II. Gathered data, 1994-1998; Series III. Evaluation materials, 1995-1998 and undated; Series IV. Publications and presentations, 1995-1999; Series V. Administrative records, 1995-1999 and undated; Series VI. Research and background materials, 1983, 1992, 1994-1998 and undated.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Art--Computer network resources
    Picture archiving and communication systems--United States
    Pictures in education--United States--Data processing

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Agendas (administrative records)
    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Forms (documents)
    Letters (correspondence)
    Press releases
    Surveys (documents)


    American University (Washington, D.C.)
    Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    Besser, Howard
    Columbia University
    Cornell University
    George Eastman House
    Getty Art History Information Program
    Harvard University. Art Museums
    Library of Congress
    MUSE Film and Television
    Museum Educational Site Licensing Project
    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    National Gallery of Art (U.S.)
    National Museum of American Art (U.S.)
    Sandore, Beth
    Trant, Jennifer
    University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    University of Maryland at College Park
    University of Michigan
    University of Virginia
    Yamashita, Robert