The whole world now has access to the impressive U of L Art Collection thanks to the recently launched online research database.
“This project adds another dimension for providing public access to the more than 13,000 objects in the art collection,” says Director/Curator Dr. Josephine Mills. “The information associated with these objects is as important as the objects themselves. However, without the database, accessing the information required significant staff assistance.”
The gallery receives daily calls and e-mails about the collection from a wide range of people, including members of the general public, private collectors, students across Canada, curators from other galleries and scholars.
“The new database enables people to do their own searches for information and research related to our collection,” says Mills.
The U of L houses one of the most significant art collections in Canada. “The strength of our collection is the diversity of the works, which include several movements from Canada, America and Europe spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection continues to grow with 21st century additions,” says Mills.
Having this important art collection at a liberal arts university creates unique opportunities.“In addition to our mandate to focus on research, we have a strong infrastructure of cutting-edge technology and access to expert technical support, which enabled us to complete this massive project,” says Mills.
Staff from the Curriculum Re-Development Centre (CRDC) and Information Technology (IT) Department worked with gallery staff to adapt their in-house database and develop a research version for web access. This project was made possible through grants from the Museums Assistance Program, Canadian Heritage and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Attention to research has become increasingly difficult for public galleries in Canada. As a result, the ability to produce and disseminate in-depth information about the artworks held in public trust has greatly decreased in recent years.
“The gallery’s online research database was created to maximize our potential to fulfil a role that other institutions cannot meet at this point,” says Mills.
Adapting the in-house database for worldwide access involved removing fields with confidential information and adding fields to assist with research.
“We added fields for classification, such as print or painting and for process/technique, such as photography or lithography. The major expansion was the addition of fields for subject matter, exhibition history, essays and artist biographies. A team of students and recent U of L graduates have added thousands of documents and key search words to these fields,” says Mills.
Database users can now search by basic information, such as the artist’s name or the title of a work, as well as genre, content of the image or artistic movement.
Visit the U of L online database at: www.uleth.ca/artgallery.
U of L Communications and Public Relations Contact:
Bob Cooney, Communications and PR Officer (403) 382-7173