WCMA Receives $150,000 Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

For immediate release: August 11, 2011

Thanks to a prestigious grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) will integrate its archives of American artist brothers Maurice and Charles Prendergast, into the museum’s permanent collection. The three-year project will also include digitally photographing the entire Prendergast collection of fine art and archives, including paintings, works on paper, hand-carved frames, sketchbooks, decorative arts, letters, documents, ephemera, and carving tools. The project will create new database records and link new high-resolution images to the museum’s collection management system. The new digital images and records will be made available to the public via the museum’s web site and a virtual research center, the Prendergast Archive and Study Center. In 2009 WCMA received an IMLS grant to digitize its Indian and Asian works of art. The new grant continues the museum’s goal of digitizing its entire collection.

WCMA is home to the world’s largest repository of the work of Maurice and Charles Prendergast. This collection, as well as the family archives, came to the museum from Charles’s widow, Eugénie Prendergast, in the years 1983 to 1995 for research and educational purposes. The collection of over 450 works by Maurice (1858-1924) and Charles (1863-1948) Prendergast is the largest in any museum and includes watercolors, oils, sketchbooks, and frames. The museum’s Prendergast holdings and archives of documents relating to the lives and careers of the brothers make WCMA a center for scholarship on the Prendergasts and their contemporaries.

IMLS has awarded WCMA one of the 2011 Museums for America Grants to support the museum in its efforts to raise the profile of and provide visibility for the Prendergast artworks and archives. Museums for America is the Institute’s largest grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums’ capacity to serve their communities. Museums for America grants strengthen a museum’s ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals.

IMLS Director Susan Hildreth expresses “Congratulations to the Museums for America grantees. We are pleased to support museums through investments in high-priority, high value activities that benefit communities throughout the US. These museums, small and large, will help to educate and inspire the public for years to come.”

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.