The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers Provides Online Access to Thousands of Great Works of Art
New eMuseum makes it easy to view images on personal devices
The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers – closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic – has launched eMuseum, providing online visitors access to the more than 7,000 images of artwork from one of the largest university-based museums in the country.
“In order to help build our audience and share our collection as widely as possible, we knew we had to go online,” said Kiki Michael, associate registrar at the Zimmerli. “With the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced us to close the museum for the time being, the digital collection aligns with our audience's needs during this challenging time. We hope that it not only helps in the academic sense but also brings joy and inspiration to all.”
Michael, who is leading the project, said the goal is to digitize 100 percent of the Zimmerli’s collection. Text information for some 18,000 additional works is also available. Museum staff, she said, upload images and verify information to eMuseum weekly, in order to provide access to more people.
The Zimmerli is using eMuseum software by Gallery Systems – which connects directly to the museum’s database and is being used by 800 museums throughout the world – to make its art collection searchable from personal devices.
The transition to online display development began in 2017 with staff prioritizing works displayed in exhibitions as well as works by artists featured in the permanent galleries. Part-time workers helped with “cleaning up” the information and correcting spelling and grammar errors. Once that was finished, the museum went full speed ahead with getting as much of the collection records up as possible.
The database reflects the Zimmerli’s permanent holdings, initiated when the museum was founded as the Rutgers University Art Gallery in 1966. The museum’s earliest points of pride include its American art and European art collections. In the 1990s, donations of Russian art and Soviet nonconformist art expanded the breadth of the collection. Visitors can search by these collection categories or by media – painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper (which include the museum’s original illustrations for children’s books).
Online visitors can search the collection via the Zimmerli's homepage. After creating a free account, users can use an online “Favorites” tool to save and share links to specific artworks. It’s a tool that may help professors, especially this semester, and in the future, said Michael.
The Zimmerli Art Museum is one of the largest and most distinguished university museums in the United States. It collects, preserves, researches and exhibits world-class works of art to provide the Rutgers community and diverse regional, national, and international audiences with direct experience of the visual arts. Scholarly activities make art accessible through exhibitions, publications and educational programs.
“eMuseum will help the Rutgers community and the public have easier access to the works in the Zimmerli’s permanent collection, whether you are an art enthusiast or a student conducting research and writing papers,” said Michael. “Since people cannot physically visit the Zimmerli, this is the best and easiest way for people to see what we have in our permanent collection. It also shows so many works that don’t often go on display.”
The Zimmerli remains closed to the public and all programs are suspended until further notice. News regarding operations will be posted on the museum’s homepage.