One of the things that I like best about my job at the Connecticut Historical Society is the opportunity to network with other museum professionals across the state. I’ve been involved with Connecticut History Online since its beginning, back in 1999, long before CHS even an online catalog of its own, when CHO was our primary means of sharing pictures of our collections with the public. CHS was the original lead partner in that project, which also involved the Connecticut State Library, the Dodd Center at UConn, and Mystic Seaport. Over the years, other institutions joined in as well. CHS was recently the lead partner in a new CHO project, the Artist and the Connecticut Landscape, which was funded by an Artworks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This project’s goal was to digitize 250 landscape paintings and watercolors from a group of Connecticut museums including the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyman Allyn Museum, the Mattatuck Museum, the Mystic Arts Center, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Slater Memorial Museum, and the Wadsworth Atheneum, in addition to the core CHO contributors. By the time the project ended on August 31st, project cataloger Kathy Foulke had entered 398 landscape records into Connecticut History Online.
This is a case where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, and that is another thing that I love about my job—the way it makes it possible to pull together different types of related materials from different parts of the CHS collection, and, in the case of CHO, from other institutions as well. For example, the project included nine paintings by Nelson Augustus Moore, from the collections of three different museums, the Mattatuck Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and CHS. CHO also includes a photograph of Moore painting, and a photograph of the Charter Oak after its fall, taken by Moore, who was a photographer as well as a painter. CHS also has numerous sketchbooks and drawings by Moore, and artifacts such as the painting box and umbrella that appear in the photograph. Get the picture?