Reynolda House awarded federal grants for digital collections

Students examine art at the Reynolda House Museum of American ArtReynolda House Museum of American Art was recently awarded two federal grants totaling $187,000 to support the next 18 months of its Digital Engagement Project, an initiative that will make the museum’s collections available online through a new website. The museum has been awarded a total of $260,000 in federal grants for the overall project.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced July 19 that Reynolda House will receive a $137,000 Museums for America grant. Museums for America is the Institute’s largest grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums’ capacity to serve their communities.

In late April, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced that the museum would receive an NEA Art Works grant for $50,000. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. Both are matching grants and go into effect August 1, 2012.

Allison Perkins“This generous support from two federal granting agencies affirms the national importance of the work we are doing at Reynolda House,” says Executive Director Allison Perkins. “This project is creating a new way to experience the museum, and it will expand our ability to inspire online visitors to explore and find meaning through the collections and resources at Reynolda House.”

The museum’s Digital Engagement Project includes digitizing the museum’s collections, cataloging detailed records for each object, redesigning the museum’s website to facilitate access to collections, and creating new opportunities for people to interact with the museum online. The NEA grant will be used to support the final year of building the back-end electronic database of collections records; the IMLS grant will support the design and launch of a new museum website, The new site is expected to launch in late 2013.

“The depth of information we are gathering on our collection and the approach we’re taking to how we want to engage with people in the digital sphere is what sets this project apart from others,” Perkins says. “We’re challenging ourselves to think of this as building a new wing for the museum—a digital wing.”

The new site will allow the museum to offer unprecedented access to information about its collections to a variety of audiences ranging from cultural tourists to its members. In particular, the availability and depth of information will be a boon for students, teachers and scholars at local educational institutions like the museum’s affiliate Wake Forest University, as well as schools worldwide.

The NEA has awarded Reynolda House a total of $123,000 in funding for the project over the past three years: $30,000 in 2010, $43,000 in 2011, and the most recent $50,000 award. Reynolda House will match grant funds from both the NEA and IMLS with gifts from individuals and grants from other organizations. Total money raised to date for the Digital Engagement Project is $354,000.

Additional funds for the Digital Engagement Project have been received from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County, the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation, the Cannon Foundation, and a number of individuals.