The Palmer Museum of Art’s collection is now available online, thanks to the efforts of the Department of Art History’s Visual Resources Centre (VRC), with the assistance of Publishing and Curation Services in the University Libraries and the Palmer Museum staff. Representing more than 7,000 works, the collection is publicly accessible through the University Libraries Digital Collections at libraries.psu.edu/psul/digital/palmer.html.
Efforts to put the Palmer’s collection online began in 2013. After museum registrar Beverly Sutley provided high-quality digital images of many of the Palmer works to the VRC for its teaching collection—which is available to Penn State users only—VRC staff Carolyn Lucarelli and Catherine Adams worked with the University Libraries to have the Palmer collection posted publicly. It is now part of the Libraries’ Digital Collections, which number close to 100 and cover a wide range of subject areas, including agriculture, the Civil War era, geology and geography of Pennsylvania, labor history and Pennsylvania history.
According to Lucarelli, more and more university art museums are putting their collections online. In addition to Art History faculty, who had requested digital access to the collection, she anticipates other users will include students working on assignments, alumni, and donors to the Palmer Museum and their families.
The collection can be searched easily through a variety of search terms, including artist name, time period, type of media used, culture and donor of the work.
While each item in the Palmer now has a digital record, not all items have images. Images will be added as funds become available to hire a fine art photographer to continue photographing the collection.
“We are grateful that in the past two years, grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts have helped with the museum’s photography expenses,” museum director Jan Muhlert noted. “We also hope to secure ongoing funding so we can sustain our efforts to make images of all objects in the collection available online.”
Lucarelli notes an important aspect of the online collection is the access to the Palmer’s works on paper, which are not often on view. Most of these objects have been photographed, allowing users to both see the images and learn more about them.
“This puts the Palmer on the map and gives the collection an online visibility it was lacking,” said Lucarelli. “With nearly everyone using the Internet for information today, it was critical for the Palmer to have this access.”
The VRC also recently developed a website showcasing past exhibitions at the Palmer: gallery.arts.psu.edu. Additional exhibitions will be added to the site in the future.
For more information on the VRC, visit arthistory.psu.edu/vrc.
For more information on the Palmer, visit palmermuseum.psu.edu.
Image: Roy DeForest, 'Private Lives,' 1981, acrylic on canvas. Gift of Joseph D. and Janet M. Shein, 99.92.