Prendergast Archive and Study Center

Prendergast Archive and Study Center

Year Two Report to IMLS

We have just submitted our year two 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 (WCMA) 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decorative arts, letters, books, magazines (303); catalogue & prep archival materials for year 3; prep, upload new & historical content to PASC webpages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 Digitize archival materials (1224); compile finding guides for Prendergast papers & correspondence; prep, upload new & historical content to PASC webpages; submit digital images & metadata to ArtStor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

In fact, at the end of year one, digitization activity was ahead of schedule, with unframed fine art objects already digitized.  During year two of this grant period (August 2012 – July 2013), WCMA had proposed to:

1)  Renew TMS and eMuseum licenses with software vendor

2)  Assign numbers, rehouse and prep archival for collection integration and digitization in year three


3)   Schedule and complete ten direct digital capture sessions with contract photographers

4) Apply accession numbers to decorative art and archival material

5)  Curatorial review of metadata with linked image

6)  Direct mail postcard announcing grant project – year two


Prendergast Postcard

7)  Publish project activities to Prendergast Archive and Study Center webpages

8)  Education/Scholarly outreach

9)  Other activities

In the summer of 2012, we learned that the Bowdoin College Museum of Art was planning for an exhibition of Prendergast works for their 2013 summer tourism season. Staff at Bowdoin contacted our retired curator, Nancy Mathews, and she agreed to be co-curator and contributor to an accompanying catalogue. Bowdoin’s loan request consisted of thirty Prendergast works, including sketchbooks and concentrating on subjects of coastal Maine.

The newly created digital content produced through this grant project enabled WCMA staff to provide digital images of superior quality for publication and product development. The successful reproduction of our Prendergast images was made easier by the color profiling present in the digital files. New images were also used by our registrarial staff for the completion of outgoing condition reports. Our web module, with all its newly published images, provided outside curators access to our holdings and streamlined the entire exhibition planning process.

Project staff is currently evaluating keyword searching within ImageFolio. Currently, images are searchable by filename only, which has been renamed to match the object’s accession number. By embedding metadata into these TIFF files, these images would be more searchable.

Comments/Lessons Learned

WCMA is pleased with the progress of the project. In fact, we were ahead of schedule with the digitization of objects and by the beginning of year two had already digitized most of the unframed fine art. Year two began with the completion of sketchbook pages and decorative art objects, and then progressed into digitizing archival material and related ephemera.

With the hiring of Eric Shannon, the museum saw its first implementation of Archivist Toolkit to process archival materials held by the museum.


Eric worked with College Archives and the Office of Information Technology to install the software on to his workstation. He can now create XML documents within Archivist Toolkit of Prendergast archival collections housed at the museum. These documents will be submitted to the college library cataloguing staff for inclusion in the library system. These new cataloguing activities work toward building relationships between the museum and college libraries and promote the sharing of services across campus.

Project staff continues to utilize the monthly Collections Management meeting to discuss, plan, report, schedule and adjust any project related activities. In addition, a smaller project team met monthly to ensure that all activities set forth in year two were completed.

Check back as we fulfill our goals for year three of the project!

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