Prendergast Archive and Study Center

Prendergast Archive and Study Center

Year One Report to IMLS

We have just submitted our year one report to the Institute of Museum and Library Services indicating that we are right on track with our grant activities for the Prendergast Digitization Project. Here are some highlights from the report.

The Williams College Museum of Art has two primary goals for this IMLS Collection Stewardship grant:

  •  Improve access to Prendergast Fine Art and Archive Collection
  •  Use technology to facilitate access to Prendergast Collection

Activities and Accomplishments

WCMA’s Digitization Project was designed in a three-year process, as defined below.

Year One:        Digitize framed fine art (205) and carved frames (67); catalogue & prep archival materials for year 2 and launch Prendergast Archive & Study Center (PASC) webpages

Year Two:       Digitize unframed fine art (187), sketchbooks, decorative arts, letters, books, magazines (303); catalogue & prep archival materials for year 3; prep, upload new & historical content to PASC webpages

Year Three:     Digitize archival materials (1224); compile finding guides for Prendergast papers & correspondence; prep, upload new & historical content to PASC webpages; submit digital images & metadata to ArtStor

Project activities are on track with the proposed timeline

During Year 1 of this grant period (August 2011 – July 2012), WCMA had proposed to:

1)      Rehire the Digital Imaging Assistant

2)      Press release – grant award announcement and project plan. The museum announced the IMLS grant award in August 2011 and several local newspapers published articles.


3)      Contract with GritMedia for project related webpages on museum website

4)     Contract with Gallery Systems for eMuseum customization; assign Prendergast classification and create Prendergast subject hierarchy.

5)      Assign accession numbers and catalogue hand-carved frames

6)     Assign numbers, generate catalogue sheets, rehouse, prep archival material for year 2

7)      Complete ten photography sessions, unframed & prep groups of fine art for photography

8)      Apply accession numbers to frames and panels

9)     Install and test eMuseum customization

10)   Direct mail postcard announcing Grant Project – Year 1

11)      Education outreach

12)      Other activities. At the end of this first year, all project activities are on track with the timeline. Annual maintenance contracts for the database (TMS) and web module (eMuseum) were renewed in September. Shooting logs were generated, accession numbers and locations verified. Photographers performed file management including file renaming, color correction and uploading derivative file sets to the museum’s dedicated server. The Digital Imaging Assistant uploaded digital files to ImageFolio (image repository) and linked new digital content to database records. Metadata and images are copied and transferred nightly from TMS to the public web module (eMuseum) through an automated script. Digital photography is backed up to DVDs and a color contact sheet is printed for reference.

Comments/Lessons Learned

The Williams College Museum of Art is pleased with the progress of the Prendergast Digitization Project. The ability to rehire our Digital Imaging Assistant at the onset of this project and to work with the same photography team was critical to the smooth transition to this project from our previous IMLS digitization project. We were also fortunate to have the Prendergast Curator (now retired) available for consultation during year one. She examined unframed works (some of which, have never been unframed before) for inscriptions, marks, labels and watermarks. In fact, during the unframing process of the first framed fine art group, two unfinished verso watercolors were re-discovered and formally photographed.

Check back as we do our best to fulfill our goals for year two of the project!

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