A lock on passion
While she was a student at Manchester University, Zoe Vorndran ’19 worked at Funderburg Library. She started out at the front desk, where her efficient manner and helpful demeanor caught the eye of Jeanine Wine ’76.

Wine was looking for someone to help with the painstaking job of cleaning and cataloging more than 500 ethnographic art objects that had been stored in a maintenance building. Vorndran accepted the challenge and began in Spring 2017.

“Working side by side with someone through the summertime heat and humidity of a non-air-conditioned space is eye-opening, especially if your work involves box after box of dusty, if not moldy, objects,” Wine said. At times, it became oppressive, overwhelming. “At those times of deflated enthusiasm, I would look to Zoe, who would lead with the words, ‘COME ON, we can DO this!’”

Their work eventually garnered the attention of the 3D project coordinator at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) University Library. The resulting collaboration was a project to scan about 75 of the art pieces and upload the 3D images onto computers to create the virtual Ethnographic Art Collection.

Female student in purple sweatshirt 3d scanning
IUPUI sent a team with 3D cameras and other equipment to Funderburg to help with scanning the pieces Vorndran and Wine selected and set out.

“It was quite the production,” Vorndran said. Each piece is scanned precisely, capturing a high level of detail from every angle. The resulting digital images improve accessibility to fragile artifacts and allow them to be shared and studied without being handled.

This experience, along with her other work with the Manchester University Archives and Peace Studies Church of the Brethren Collection, was transformative. “It helped me realize my passions for history and helped me pursue that as a possible career,” she said.

Vorndran graduated from Manchester with a double major in English and history. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public history from IUPUI and now works at the Indiana Historical Society as an exhibition researcher.