Post by: Rebecca Massie Lane
Director, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
It was a happy day last July when Julianna Albowicz from Senator Mikulski’s office phoned me with “embargoed” news that the museum had been awarded a competitive three-year grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in the amount of $144,578.00 to conduct a collections inventory project of its significant holdings of American Art and its supporting collections of European, Asian, and African Art totaling some 7000 works. This inventory will allow the museum to provide better access to its collections for citizens of the region, artists, area collectors, community educators, students and scholars. The project will include collections planning, collections security and safety, database conversation, photography, documentation, and ultimately on-line access to collections.
The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts was selected from among 481 applicants across our nation for this prestigious, highly competitive, grant award. National grants such as the Museums for America grant are sea-changing opportunities for deserving institutions. Our museum’s success was due, in part, to our recent participation in two Museum Assessment Programs through the American Association of Museums. The grant provides the opportunity to better serve our community by enhancing the Museum’s capacity to reach its audiences with complete and accurate information on our important art collection.
A few weeks later, we learned that our grant had received the additional honor of being named a “model” grant to be placed on the IMLS website as an aide to future grant seekers.
IMLS Director Susan Hildreth described the IMLS-Museums for America grants as ones that support museums through “investments in high-priority, high value activities that benefit communities throughout the U.S. These museums, small and large, will help to educate and inspire the public for years to come.”
The museum curatorial staff quickly mobilized to muster the resources for the inventory to begin, including ordering inventory equipment and supplies and hiring the grant funded Collections Technical Assistant. Then Hurricane Irene became a threat.....