Collections Website Offers Research Opportunities

GW’s new online archive includes photographs and information about more than 4,000 artifacts so far.

February 3, 2020

A close-up fragment of velvet from the digitized Textile Museum Collection.

A close-up fragment of velvet from the digitized Textile Museum Collection.

The George Washington University has launched its pilot collections website, a work in progress presenting high-resolution photographs of and information on more than 4,000 artifacts and works of art. The site is a collaboration between the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.

The website makes research on an increasing percentage of the university’s holdings of global textiles, other artworks and historical artifacts possible not just on campus but globally.

“This site, accessible from any device with an internet connection, makes it possible for anyone in the world to browse art and artifacts for scholarship, study, artistic inspiration and appreciation,” said museum registrar Tessa Lummis, who helped spearhead the site’s launch.

Works on the website represent five museum and university collections:

  • The Textile Museum Collection of handmade textile art from Middle Eastern, Asian, African and indigenous American cultures spanning the past 5,000 years. This first batch of digital records includes works exhibited in the past decade.
  • The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, comprising over 2,000 maps, prints, newspapers and artifacts tracing the history of Washington, D.C. Nearly 1,500 works are currently available online, and the entire collection is expected to be accessible in early 2020.
  • The Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection, which provides opportunities for researchers to examine 4,000 textile fragments created in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, dating from antiquity to the present day. Efforts are underway to publish a large sample of this collection by the opening of the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center in April 2020.
  • The GW Collection, managed by the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, includes 3,800 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, ceramics, historical furnishings and photographs. About 400 works are currently available online.
  • The Corcoran Study Collection, a selection from the former Corcoran Gallery of Art, includes over 800 photographs, prints, drawings, books, and three-dimensional works by American and European artists. Over 700 works are currently online.

Digitization of some items in the Textile Museum Collection was made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in October 2018.  The museum aims to digitize the entire Textile Museum Collection by its centennial in the year 2025.

“This is a monumental step in the history of the museum and the university, and what you see on the site today is just the beginning,” Ms. Lummis said. “We are excited for everyone—students, scholars, artists and enthusiasts—to start exploring!”