The Harvard University Art Museums (HUAM) have announced the launch of “Collections Online” – a searchable Web-based database of more than 60,000 works of art from the collections of Harvard’s three art museums. “Collections Online” makes it possible for scholars, researchers, and the general public to access textual information on about one-third of the more than 150,000 objects of the Art Museum. Eventually, records about the entire collection will be accessible online.
“One of our purposes as a teaching and research museum is to make our collections widely accessible and at the highest standard of quality possible,” said James Cuno, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Art Museums. “This database, with basic textual information and high-resolution images, helps us to do that.”
The database can be found by visiting HUAM’s home page at http://www.artmuseums.harvard.edu and clicking on “Collections Online.” Basic searches can be performed by the artist’s name or the title of a work, while more advanced searches allow inquiries by date, object type, medium, technique, credit line, or accession number. Information available on each work includes the artist, title, date, medium, dimensions, credit line, and accession number.
“It’s really a discovery tool,” said Sam Quigley, director of digital information and technology for HUAM. “Now people can have access to information that had been available only within the museums. It opens up our catalog to the world.”
With the launch of “Collections Online” last month, HUAM joined such institutions as the National Gallery of Art and the Tate Gallery in London in providing extensive Internet access to their holdings.
The online database is only the most visible aspect of an institutionwide push to create a comprehensive digital record of both text and images for each of the paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and other objects owned by the Art Museums. This effort has been helped enormously by a grant of more than $750,000 from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to catalog, digitize, and make available via the Internet the Sackler Museum’s world-renowned collections of Asian art.