The Delaware Art Museum recently launched its new web-based platform with the Delaware Heritage Collection, allowing selections from the Museum's 2,000 linear feet of archival material to be seen from anywhere in the world. Original letters from Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti to his mistress, photographs of artist and illustrator John Sloan in his studio, and scrapbooks chronicling the Museum's history are some of the materials now available online through the new Digital Collections portal.
The Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives has embarked upon a digitization initiative to provide free access to our most significant collections, including the John Sloan, Howard Pyle, and Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft, Jr. Pre-Raphaelite Manuscript Collections. The archives are available through the Delaware Heritage Collection, an online portal supported by the Delaware Division of Libraries at delart.org. Visitors to this new online resource are able to browse the Museum's collections, search for specific objects, view images, and read transcripts.
"This is an incredible opportunity for the Museum," notes Sam Sweet, executive director and CEO at the Delaware Art Museum. "Putting these valuable resources online allows us to serve our diverse audiences more effectively through access to collections-related information, images, and scholarship. We field over 250 research visits and reference requests each year. Now many more can browse our archives from anywhere in the world, expanding our reach even further."
To date, there are 500 archival items available online and more items are added daily. Reflecting research requests, most of the online archives are focused on the Museum's Pre-Raphaelite and John Sloan collections. This spring, in coordination with the exhibition No Jury, No Prizes: The Society of Independent Artists, 1917-1944, the Museum added over 150 items related to the Society of Independent Artists. As part of the phased plan, the Museum will add over 8,000 John Sloan archival items. The informative database will allow the Delaware Art Museum to carry out its core mission of connecting people to art.
The digitized archival collections complement and enhance the Museum's current online collection website. Over 75% of the Museum's 12,000-object collection is already searchable on its website. Digitizing the one-of-a-kind archival materials makes them available to a broader audience and increases the visibility of the rich and unique holdings beyond the region.
"Every week, I am contacted by researchers requesting information from the Museum's unique archival holdings," explains Delaware Art Museum's Librarian and Archivist Rachael DiEleuterio. "Scholars want to read John Sloan's diaries, collectors want to know where their illustrations were published, and curators and artists' descendants want information about paintings and sculptures exhibited at the Museum decades ago."
The system that hosts the digitized materials is made possible through the Delaware Heritage Collection, a project supported by the Delaware Division of Libraries. Earlier this year, Azelina Flint, a PhD Candidate of the School of American Studies, University of East Anglia, UK, visited and digitized several hundred letters and poetry manuscripts by Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Ms. Flint's participation in the digitization project was supported by the CHASE consortium of the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council work placement scheme, which allows CHASE-funded students to spend one to six months with a partner organization, working on a project that is mutually beneficial to both the student's research and the organization.
In the summer of 2017, hundreds more items related to John Sloan will go online, with the help of Kristen Nassif, a PhD student at the University of Delaware.
"When the Delaware Division of Libraries invited us to join the Delaware Heritage Collection, an online portal that makes items from Delaware libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions available freely online, we jumped at the chance," says DiEleuterio.
The new database is accessible through the Museum's website here
. Archival materials can also be downloaded and printed directly from the portal.