On June 5, the Portland Museum of Art will debut a website of highlights from its Winslow Homer illustrations collection. This groundbreaking online gallery on the Museums website, www.portlandmuseum.org
, will provide searchable and zoomable access to more than 250 of Homers wood engravings. Many of these works have never been seen by the public before. The engravings are part of a gift of 445 Homer wood engravings given to the Museum by Peggy and Harold Osher in 1991, a nearly comprehensive collection of Homers graphic work. The launch of this online gallery is in celebration of the Museums exhibition Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place on view June 5 through September 12. A computer station will be available in the exhibition to allow visitors access to all of these works.
This project takes Peggy and Harold Oshers remarkable gift to the Portland Museum of Art and makes it accessible to a broader audience, said Chief Curator Thomas Denenberg. We are grateful to the Oshers, proud to be the stewards of this remarkable collection, and honored to offer it to the nation.
With the use of new technology to digitize the Homer graphic collection, we are able to expand the visitor experience and encourage a greater understanding of these works of art, said the Museums Director of Education Dana Baldwin. This online resource enhances the Museums ability to fulfill its artistic and public service mission and allows visitors a chance to see Homers illustrations through a new, close-up lens.
Each illustration will be presented online using a feature that allows viewers to zoom in on details in each work. Twenty works will have pop-up hot spots embedded in the image, providing viewers with interesting information to enhance their experience of the work. An additional 10 works were photographed with their related magazine page, so viewers will be able to zoom in on articles that accompany the illustrations.
The large number of illustrations Homer created for mass reproduction in the mid-1800s defines him as one of 19th-century Americas most visible interpreters of culture and history. Until now, however, visitors have been unable to fully explore the richness of the Homer graphics collection because the fragile, light-sensitive nature of works on paper permits display of only two or three at a time. These works, primarily reproductions that appeared in the popular news magazine Harpers Weekly, have been digitally photographed in high resolution.