The Polk Museum of Art Digitizes its Asian Collection

The Polk Museum of Art is on a mission to digitize and photograph its Asian art collection, and it has secured assistance from an expert in Asian art to form a strategic collecting plan for the future.

The project, expected to be completed in mid-2018, is made possible through a $25,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation awarded in July 2016.

The grant funds two paid internships to aid staff with the digitization project. Intern and Florida Southern College Junior McKenzie Bengry created digital archives and performed a condition report for each of the Asian objects. Stetson University graduate Elizabeth Frates assists Hicks with handling, preparing, tracking and rehousing the artworks as they are photographed.

The museum combined the remaining grant funds with funding from the Cowles Foundation, Florida Southern College and money from its own budget to purchase The Museum System – the premier collections management software from Gallery Systems, said Loren Hicks, the museum’s collections manager and registrar. Frates is updating The Museum System database with information about the Asian collection.

“This new software is a giant step toward making the museum's permanent collection globally accessible,” Hicks said. “The Museum System allows for more control over managing images, didactic material, object files, condition, copyright, location history, and artist and donor information. Having this data within one system streamlines usage and enables staff to create accurate checklists for exhibitions, collection reports, and tracking/managing insurance policies and shipments.”

Reems Landreth, an unpaid intern who is a sophomore at Florida Southern, began photographing high-resolution, publication-quality images of each piece in the Asian collection in September. New photography equipment was purchased to support this portion of the project.

Once the museum's entire collection has been photographed, digitized and incorporated into the new database, staff will pursue funding for eMuseum, the powerful web publishing toolkit that integrates with The Museum System to bring collections content and images to the Polk Museum of Art’s website.

About the Asian Art Collection

The Polk Museum of Art Asian art collection includes metal objects that date from 300-900 A.D; 19th and 20th century Chinese and Japanese ceramics, ivories and textiles; Chinese and Japanese scrolls; Japanese woodblock prints; and Indian decorative arts.

Of particular significance in the collection is a portfolio of rare 19th century Japanese woodblock prints by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi depicting the “Thirty-two Aspects of Women,” and a group of 48 ceramic objects by noted 20th century Japanese artists that were donated by the Rev. Muneharu Kurozumi, chief patriarch of Kurozumi-kyo Shintoism.

In 2006, William D. and Norma Canelas Roth donated a collection of Japanese textiles to further expand the museum's holdings of Asian art.