Digital Initiatives

Complementing and expanding the DAC's longstanding programs of education, exhibition, and publication, work using digital technologies is under way. Strategically interwoven, these projects and programs include the adoption of a new collections management system into which the DAC has migrated such information, and which now supports public search on the web; the DAC Open Access Images policy, put into effect in December 2012; and the DAC Digital Imaging Initiative, which transitioned in 2013 to rapid-capture photography of collection objects. Complementing and enhancing the direct study of original objects, these projects expand the means by which the DAC collection supports its educational mission.

Digital Photography of Collection Objects

In the summer of 2013, the DAC Digital Imaging Initiative transitioned from large-format photography with a 4x5 camera (very high-resolution, but comparatively slow) to high-quality, rapid-capture photography of collection objects. That first summer of rapid capture produced images of over 1,800 artworks, mostly French and Italian prints of the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Nearly all of those images are now available as DAC Open Access Images via DAC Collection Search online. We look forward to similar projects in future summers as funding allows.

We are now in the first year of a three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for imaging in the summers of 2015-2017. A press release explains more about that grant. With a project team of six working for six intensive weeks in June and July 2015, our initial run of IMLS-funded imaging enabled us to make highly accurate images of more than 1,900 artworks, chiefly Dutch and German prints. Later this fall, more than 1,700 of these new images will go live online in DAC Collection Search and as DAC Open Access Images (some images represent works still under copyright, which prevents that). We look forward to future work in the summers of 2016 and 2017. In summer 2016, we'll dive deeply into British prints and then move on to other key areas of the collection, creating significantly more DAC Open Access Images.

Zoomable images of Japanese woodcuts from the collection are featured in a learning object developed collaboratively at Wesleyan to help students, collectors, and researchers better understand Ukiyo-e Techniques.

Wesleyan's New Media Lab created a digital presentation of Max Klinger's Brahmsphantasie in conjunction with the Davison Art Center (the presentation requires Flash, and it will open in a new window or tab in your web browser).

Images produced by earlier phases of the DAC Digital Imaging Initiative have been used to create learning resources for pedagogical use.

Online Access to Collection Information

The DAC moved its behind-the-scenes collection management to a new system via a major data migration in 2009-2011.* That system offers a sustainable model for future development and support. Since August 2012, it exports selected object data to DAC Collection Search online, which enables students, faculty, researchers, and the public to discover more easily what the collection holds. Launched as early as possible in its development, that search resource finished private testing in 2012, went public that August in a bare-bones public alpha version, and is now undergoing iterative improvements. In early 2013, an initial, small group of images was added to its descriptive text, and over 1,800 more were added in October 2013. Additional images will appear there as collection imaging work proceeds.

*From 1989 to 1999 the DAC collection catalog was maintained in HyperCard, an authoring application. In the late 1990s we developed an interim collections database management system in-house. From 2000 through 2010, it provided a reliable, secure, and flexible environment for standardizing and enhancing collections information. That system was accessible only at the DAC, where it supported staff, faculty, and student access for teaching, research, exhibitions, collections management, and other museum operations.