WCMA Teaching the Collection, Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

Williams College Museum of Art Launches 
Online Collection and Ancient Art Web Module

For immediate release: September 13, 2010

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) is pleased to announce the launch of its Online Collection and Ancient Art Web Module. The Online Collection, a searchable database of the museum’s 13,000 objects, provides access to people worldwide to the permanent collection, and the educational web module allows audiences to engage deeply with Egyptian objects from the Ancient art collection. Williams College faculty and students, K-12 educators, and the general public can now interact with the permanent collection in an entirely new way through the Online Collection and Ancient Art Web Module at wcma.williams.edu.

Williams College Museum of Art Online Collection

Though the museum has nearly 13,000 art objects in its permanent collection, only two-percent of the collection is on view in the galleries at any one time. The launch of WCMA’s Online Collection marks the first time that the public will have unrestricted access to the breadth of the museum’s works. Powered by eMuseum, this user-friendly interface permits all audiences to come into contact with works of art in the museum. Users can browse the collection or search for individual works of art by title, artist, culture, period, and even exhibition history. This interface, accessible through the WCMA website, greatly increases the museum’s accessibility to audiences throughout the Berkshires, and beyond.

Lisa Corrin, Class of 1956 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art, states, “WCMA is first and foremost a teaching museum. Making our collection accessible to students, faculty, and the larger community is critical to our core mission. We are truly thrilled that our new web resources will show the online community the extraordinary depth and breadth of our marvelous collection, while allowing audiences to draw connections across the many time periods and cultures represented by our holdings.”

Digitization Project

In 2009, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded WCMA a $150,000 “Museums for America” grant to support the museum in its efforts to digitally photograph and archive 20 percent of its permanent collection. The works selected for photography included objects from the Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Syrian, Byzantine, Mesopotamian, Meso-American, Chinese, Japanese, Asian, and Indian collections. Superior quality images of these objects will be available to give the public greater access to these ancient, and often fragile, objects. By the end of August 2011, approximately 2,500 works in WCMA’s ancient and world cultures collection will be photographed by Pivot Media, a company from Florence, Massachusetts that specializes in digital photography. These images will be available for viewing though the Online Collection.

Ancient Art Web Module

The Ancient Art Web Module focuses on the art, artifacts, and history of ancient Egypt, as represented in the permanent collection. WCMA’s Egyptian art collection is frequently used in the museum’s Rose Study Gallery, and is a useful resource for K-12 educators teaching ancient civilizations. Now available through the website, the Egyptian art web module provides historical context and significance for 20 works from the Egyptian art collection alongside zoomable, high quality images of each object. In addition to informational pages, further educational resources are available, such as links to related web and print sources. The museum is working with local and regional school districts to develop lesson plans that explore the ancient culture and civilization from which the objects came. These lesson plans will be made available for download through the web module.

In the future, WCMA will launch an Indian art web module. The museum possesses a rich collection of Indian art, which bridges the traditions of Islamic, Hindu, and British India over four centuries. The web module will allow educators and the general public to explore how these very different cultures co-existed in India and learned from each other, while, at the same time, developed their own distinct identities.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.