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Chazen Museum of Art and UW–Madison Libraries Awarded Mellon Grant

Madison, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been awarded a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the “Coordinating Cultural Heritage Collections at UW–Madison” project. UW–Madison has pledged an additional $317,000 toward the project. This three-year project will support the expansion of current UW–Madison Libraries digital collection initiatives. The Chazen Museum of Art will serve as a pilot organization for the development of tools for collecting, preserving and sharing digital assets. When completed, the project will allow students, faculty and staff to access the Chazen’s art and digital archive collections from one online system. In the future, the systems developed via the project will be available to other collections across campus.

Art museums and libraries within the same college or university typically operate within different organizational structures and separate archiving systems. However, changes in research and teaching are creating faculty and student demand for access to collections that require museums and libraries to collaborate and share resources in new and imaginative ways.

UW–Madison Libraries have invested in a robust digital collection infrastructure, with a goal to partner with campus IT in the development and implementation of a campus-level preservation service, the design of which is already underway. The grant will enable UW–Madison Libraries to expand their platform in support of cultural organizations – like the Chazen Museum of Art – and other collections across the UW–Madison campus.

“As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we are excited to take a great leap forward in terms of the preservation and searchability of our archives,” said Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen. “Thanks to the support of The Mellon Foundation, and together with our partners in Libraries and IT, we will create a structure and process for our peers, solving a campus-wide problem by increasing the accessibility, searchability and preservation of collections in departments from geology to communications to fine art.”

“The UW–Madison Libraries look forward to this opportunity to collaborate with our partners at the Chazen Museum of Art,” said Lisa Carter, vice provost for Libraries. “This grant ensures we can build on the expertise developed by the Libraries in digital collections management to help improve access to the Chazen’s holdings. Through this collaborative effort, we will enhance the discovery of UW’s distinctive collections and expand the amount of local resources available for research, teaching and learning. This project will also suggest strategies for improving access to similar digital or digitized collections across campus.”

The project will expand and enhance discovery, digital collections management, and digital preservation applications already in use or under development by UW–Madison Libraries. In discovery the project will create a distinctive search experience for the Chazen digital collections as well as integrate those collections into the broader search context for University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. By supporting the Chazen’s digital collections within the Libraries’ digital collections management infrastructure and digital preservation platform, the project will scale the Libraries’s technical capabilities to support the Chazen and establish a model for further scaling these capabilities to support other cultural heritage organizations on campus.

The grant will support four new full-time positions and two graduate project assistants, who will work together to engage these technologies in the effort to preserve and digitize the Chazen’s archive.

UW­­­–Madison shares the Mellon Foundation’s commitment to advancing museum-library collaborations through freely available, scalable solutions. Through this project, The Libraries will build on recent work to develop a Digital Preservation Service that includes a full, scalable Digital Preservation Management Platform and associated digital preservation management practices for the Chazen, which will then become available to departments across the UW–Madison campus.