Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is able to continue work on an important educational initiative due to a grant award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in the amount of $51,572.
Munson-Williams applied for this emergency funding to support the continued development of digital interpretation of the Museum of Art’s Fountain Elms period rooms, which showcase Munson-Williams’ preeminent 19th-century American decorative arts collection.
The funding was offered to cultural institutions to support at-risk humanities positions and projects impacted by the coronavirus and to help them continue to advance their mission during the interruption of their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Munson-Williams Museum Education Director April Oswald said that of the 2,333 applications received by the NEH, only 311 were selected for funding.
“We are very pleased and honored to receive this grant,” Oswald said. “The digital interpretations of our collections provides easy access to information, while at the same time allows people worldwide to view and learn about these works.”
At the time of the shutdown, interpretation of the parlor room was almost complete, and a new part-time Decorative Arts Assistant was about to join the staff to continue work on the project. The funding will support the completion of the interpretation for all remaining period rooms, and will allow the Decorative Arts Assistant to work full-time on the project through December, the end of the funding period, at which time, her position will revert to part-time.
Munson-Williams is home to some of the nation’s earliest Victorian-era period rooms in an art museum. Housed on the first floor of Fountain Elms, the four rooms’ settings — a parlor, library, dining room, and a bedroom — include a premier collection of 19th-century decorative arts created by prominent makers from New York City and Philadelphia, as well as regional artisans from Utica, Albany, and Troy. Smaller European and Asian materials highlight the collection.
The Fountain Elms period rooms were selected for this next phase of digital interpretation because of their popularity, the large number and variety of objects they contain, and the limited interpretation currently available. The digital interpretation makes it possible to be responsive – onsite and off-site – to a greater variety of visitors exploring the museum’s resources
Over the last decade, the Museum of Art has successfully developed digital tools for enhancing visitor experiences while concurrently providing online access to the collection for researchers, teachers, students and those unable to attend in person. Projects have included the development of an online collection of more than 5,000 artworks (eMuseum) and self-guided multimedia tours of collection highlights.