EMILY DICKINSON MUSEUM ANNOUNCES PUBLIC COLLECTION DATABASE AND IMLS GRANT TO CONTINUE DOCUMENTATION PROJECT
The Museum’s collection had remained largely undocumented and inaccessible, but has now been digitized and published for public use for the very first time.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Patrick Fecher
(Wednesday, September 13, 2023, AMHERST, MA) – Today the Emily Dickinson Museum announces the premiere of its online collection database. The Museum’s collection had remained largely undocumented and inaccessible until a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2019 funded the documentation and baseline cataloging of the entire collection for the very first time. This project has improved collection care, providedpublic access to the collection, will strengthen the museum’s interpretation, and open promising new research opportunities.
The Emily Dickinson Museum’s collection is the largest and most diverse assemblage of objects associated with Emily Dickinson and her family to be found anywhere. It consists of more than 8,000 artifacts, including fine art such as an impressive collection of Hudson River school paintings; cooking, dining, lighting, and heating artifacts; personal items such as Edward Dickinson’s wallet, Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson’s sewing kit, children’s toys, handwork, and musical instruments; souvenir objects and art from travels abroad; and a large assortment of clothing and textiles. The collection captures the details of nineteenth-century life in a semi-rural educational and agricultural community and vividly illustrates the daily life and writing habits of one of the world’s greatest poets.
Jane and Robert Keiter Family Executive Director Jane Wald says, “This was, for practical purposes, a hidden collection until a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services allowed us to improve our management of these thousands of Dickinson family objects. It’s a significant accomplishment to celebrate in the Museum’s 20th anniversary year.”
Collections Manager Megan Ramsey says, “Documenting our collection is a huge step in taking better care of our artifacts and providing more access to visitors, researchers, and students. With this new digital resource, the museum is able to share more stories about the lives of the Dickinsons.”
The Institute for Museum and Library Services has awarded the Emily Dickinson Museum additional funding to improve documentation about this collection by digitizing institutional records, including photographs, letters and other information related to the artifacts. These records will help to enhance database entries and provide greater context for the collection. The Emily Dickinson Museum will also survey archival material at other institutions, including Amherst College, Jones Library, Mount Holyoke College, Harvard University, Brown University, and Yale University, in order to gather information on the extent of primary sources related to Museum collections objects. Following an intensive three-year IMLS-funded project to create a foundational and comprehensive catalog database, digitizing collections-related information is the logical next step in documenting the collection and understanding the histories of each object. This project will result in more complete collections information management, enabling the Emily Dickinson Museum to interpret the poet’s life and times more fully, and provide public and scholarly access to an important cultural collection.
To access the Collection database, visit: emilydickinsonmuseum.org/museum-collection
For images, please visit: bit.ly/EDM-Images-Collections-Database
ABOUT THE EMILY DICKINSON MUSEUM
The Emily Dickinson Museum is dedicated to sparking the imagination by amplifying Emily Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home.
The Museum comprises two historic houses—the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens in the center of Amherst, Mass.—that were home to the poet (1830-1886) and members of her immediate family during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Museum was created in 2003 when the two houses merged under the ownership of the Trustees of Amherst College. The Museum is overseen by a separate Board of Governors and is responsible for raising its own operating, program, and capital funds.
ABOUT THE INSTITUTE OF MUSEUM AND LIBRARY SERVICES
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov