The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College is pleased to announce a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as part of that organization’s Museums for America program. The grant of $248,000—one of the largest ever received by the Benton—will make it possible for the museum to transform its internal collection database into a more discoverable and accessible online portal to its holdings. This multi-faceted project will involve more robust research on the museum’s collection, more sophisticated and comprehensive imaging of the collection, and enhanced content and interpretation of key objects.
“Our current round of grants for the museum world reflects the important work of our nation’s cultural institutions during the pandemic and the deep thinking about the future of our culture in a post-pandemic world,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “Advancing the preservation of collections, diversity through staff training and programming, community response, and formal and informal education for future generations is inspiring.”
“In the past year, the Benton has begun inhabiting its brand-new building, the expanded spaces of which allow for dramatically improved access to our permanent collections,” said Victoria Sancho Lobis, Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel ’23 Director of the museum. “This grant from the IMLS now allows us to mirror this new physical access to collections with digital access. With their support, we can build a robust portal for audiences to learn about works in our care through expanded content and improved photography. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to build a new virtual Benton as we have built a new physical Benton.”
The museum’s current online collection is rooted in an internal-facing information system. This grant allows the Benton to develop that system into a more discoverable, user-friendly, and content-rich presentation of approximately 8,500 objects, or half of the museum’s total holdings. The grant supports the hiring of a full-time collection manager to oversee this two-year project, which will also involve student research contributions and participation at every stage, befitting the museum’s role as an educational and teaching institution.
The process begins with an audit of the records for these 8,500 objects, comparable to the physical collection audit occasioned by the move from the Benton’s old building to its new home. The audit will assess the disparate degrees of documentation—both content and images—for these works of art, including bibliographies, exhibition histories, and provenance and conservation information. The collection manager will work with a team drawn from the museum staff and student interns to address these disparities, researching and publishing content to make the presentations more equitable and comprehensive. This content will also be cross-referenced and linked via keywords throughout the museum’s website, which will allow for users to make connections among objects and virtually travel through the collection with more ease.
The IMLS grant also supports consultation with several subject-area specialists to identify approximately 500 of these 8,500 works to receive additional content, interpretation, and detailed photography. These specialists cover areas in which the Benton’s collection is particularly strong: Native American works of art, European and American paintings, European and American works on paper, and photography.
About the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College
Now housed in the new Benton Museum of Art designed by Machado Silvetti and Gensler, Pomona College’s collection of art numbers 16,000 objects, including Italian Renaissance paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation; works on paper, including a first edition print series by Francisco Goya given by Norton Simon; and works in various media produced in Southern California in the twentieth century. In keeping with Pomona College’s reputation as a leading center of the visual arts, the collection also includes works by such esteemed alumni as Chris Burden ’69, Marcia Hafif ’51, Helen Pashgian ’56, Peter Shelton ’73, and James Turrell ’65. Recognized globally for its commitment to contemporary art, the museum is the home of The Project Series, which has featured more than 50 contemporary Southern California artists since it began in 1999. Through its collaboration with students and faculty, the museum encourages active learning and creative exploration across all disciplines of study within the liberal arts context.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.