New York art institutions combine research assets online

  • March 04, 2010 13:17

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A collaborative project to digitize the exhibition checklists and pamphlets of the Macbeth Gallery, held by the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Art Reference Library was completed in the fall of 2008.

Space-consuming stacks of deteriorating catalogs and steady streams of researchers looking for information are two reasons for art museum libraries to innovate with Web solutions. Four leading New York City institutions are addressing these issues of collection preservation and information dissemination with the development of a new online research destination:

Founded in 2006, the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) consists of The Brooklyn Museum, The Frick Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. Their website provides news on the consortium's joint activities and promotes each library's collection through blog posts.

Highlighted news includes the Frick and Met's digitization project of the Macbeth Gallery collection of catalogs. About 450 unique items from the archives of the pioneering New York gallery---known for handling artists such as Winslow Homer, Charles H. Davis, and Andrew Wyeth---were made into PDF files now accessible through the Watson Library online catalog, WATSONLINEFRESCO (Frick Research Catalog Online) and Arcade.

Deirdre Lawrence, Principal Librarian at Brooklyn Museum, said in an e-mail announcement, "We hope [the NYARC website] will be a great tool for developing ideas for relevant collaboration that will benefit the research community."

A valuable tool for art researchers, especially if it's kept free and accessible, may be developed with NYARC's JSTOR, an online colloboration of the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art to digitize historic auction catalogs.

This pilot project, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is currently focused on preserving 18th-to-early-20th-century English language auction catalogs. The aim of the BETA version of JSTOR is to gain understanding on how to best maintain these records for posterity and scholarly use.

To browse auction catalogs and provide feedback on the prototype, visit JSTOR. The site is open to the public through June 2010.


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