The idea behind the current Hudson Valley Visual Art Collections Consortium project, which will now proceed toward eventual digitization and online availability for more than 15,000 images – as well as a hoped-for central location for shared physical storage needs – came out of a lunch meeting last year between the Dorsky’s executive director Sarah Pasti and then-director at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, Carla Smith. “We got to talking about the challenges everyone was facing regarding storage,” Pasti said, “which led to talk about how we could make our collections, largely unseen, available to the public 24 hours a day.”
Funding for the pilot project came via grants from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Ulster County Cultural Promotion and Services Fund and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The actual website onto which all this material is being uploaded, as well as the work needed to make this website happen (beyond each organization’s own digitizing efforts of recent years), are being handled by the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council, a regional library cooperative based in Highland, whose efforts had already worked to bring together and make available digital photo archives from a host of the region’s colleges, libraries, historical societies and museums (including the FDR Presidential Library).
“It’s amazing, the treasures we’ve all been keeping just below the floorboards, in our closets and holding up our desks,” CPW executive director Ariel Shanberg said at the event that celebrated what is now available online to one and all. “We spent ten years getting our many bookmaking projects online, and still we never got it working right,” added Ann Kalmbach of Women’s Studio Workshop, which has been an international center of paper- and bookmaking art processes for over 35 years.
Pasti added that a new round of funding applications would be going out soon, and that some other key collections in the region, including Bard and Vassar, will be approached (or reapproached, in the two colleges’ cases) to add materials, the better to provide a single resource for the Hudson Valley’s cultural history – and future, more than likely.
“This is a great opportunity for the region,” said Pasti. “From the 19th century to the present, the Hudson Valley has been a cradle for artistic creation and innovation. Now everyone will be able to see the treasures that lie hidden in these collections.” “Each organization involved in the Consortium has had an important role to play in the development and presentation of contemporary American art,” added Shanberg.
For more information, and a delighted several hours of pleasurable looking, be sure to visit www.hrvh.org/hvvacc. And keep visiting it, as updates start piling in over the coming years.