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Collaborative Project: Digitizing the Sybren Valkema Archive

Press Center

November 20, 2014

Over a year ago, the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History began working on a collaborative digital project with the Rakow Research Library, part of The Corning Museum of Glass, with the goal of digitizing the complete archive of Sybren Valkema, currently housed at the RKD. By digitizing and disseminating this archive, the RKD and Rakow Research Library will be able to make this invaluable primary material accessible to artists and researchers worldwide.

The archive documents the professional life of glass artist Sybren Valkema (1916–1996). Valkema, one of the founders of the Studio Glas movement, has a distinguished place in the pantheon of European glass artists. He organized the first European exhibition of Free Glass. He also founded the glass department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In recognition of his contributions to the international glass movement, Valkema received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Art Society in 1994. The archive consists of notes, drawings, correspondence, and slides relating to his career.

The Sybren Valkema archive is currently undergoing re-housing, cataloging, and conservation in preparation for its digitization. In October 2013 Metamorfoze officially awarded the RKD a grant to cover 70% of the digitization costs for the two-year project which is now underway. The Fellows' Executive Committee has approved the Rakow's request to use Fellows' Funds to acquire the digital Valkema Archives.

After digitization the Foundation Vrij Glas will further enhance the archive by providing detailed metadata, adding deeper insight for researchers and those interested in learning more about Valkema.

The Valkema Project is the RKD’s largest collaborative digitization project to date and the Rakow’s first international collaboration. All the documents from Sybren Valkema’s archive will be available for consultation via the RKDarchives database at the end of 2015.

The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass is the world’s finest library dedicated to preserving and sharing the story of glass and glassmaking. The Rakow Library holds more than 400,000 books, trade catalogs, drawings, and archival materials. The Library is part of The Corning Museum of Glass, home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Visit for more details.

The RKD is the largest research institution in the field of Dutch arts and crafts worldwide. The collection comprises more than 7 million reproductions, 450.000 books and 1500 meters of art historical archives.

Vrij Glas strives to stimulate debate and create a greater awareness and appreciation of glass as a visual arts medium.

About The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass is the foremost authority on the art, history, science, and design of glass. It is home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Live glassblowing demonstrations (offered at the Museum and on the road), bring the material to life. Daily Make Your Own Glass experiences at the Museum enable visitors to create work in a state-of-the-art glassmaking studio. The campus in Corning includes a year-round glassmaking school—The Studio—and the Rakow Research Library, with the world’s preeminent collection of materials on the art and history of glass. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State, the Museum is open daily, year-round. Children and teens, 17 and under, receive free admission.