Samuel Dorsky Goes Digital

Photo by Mathew John Jr.
Photo by Mathew John Jr.

In recent months, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (SDMA) received collaborative grants amounting to $150,000 to digitize their permanent collection.

SDMA is a member of the Hudson Valley Visual Arts Consortium (HVVAC), which includes the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum and the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale. Together, all five establishments will share this money to prepare, research and create a web-accessible database of images representing over 13,000 objects in their permanent collections.

“The museum director and I are thrilled to have received this grant,” said Sara Pasti, SDMA museum director. “This is a project that the museum has been working on for over a year with four other partners in Ulster County.”

With a grant from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Association, the SDMA will begin their preliminary pilot program, which is to be launched in mid-October. By that time, 50 images from each member of the HVVAC will be put online for public and student viewing. Though the grants received are for a three-year long project, students and faculty will be able to use this as a resource very soon. After the pilot program is launched, the rest of each collection will become available.

Like larger museums, the gallery space inside the SDMA only begins to skim the surface of what is housed in the permanent collections. This project, once completed, will be of use to all students at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz and abroad for research, study or pleasure.

As Art Collections Manager at the SDMA, Wayne Lempka is in charge of making sure that all the records are ready so that when they are transferred, everything is where it is supposed to be. As a firm believer that those who save and preserve these objects do so because they have some importance that is imperative, Lempka said the grant money would have far reaching benefits for all future generations of the college.

“It will be great for not only students and people in the community, but people all over the world because anyone can access the collections,” he said.

Though they are busy with the project ahead, Pasti said that the SDMA would like to seek additional funding for an HVVAC art research center.

Because it is currently very difficult to get objects out of the collection, Pasti said her next project would be opening a building to remove that challenge.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a collection study center somewhere in the area that would house all of these works,” she said. “It would allow us to be much more efficient in storing, conserving and making the works available for the public to see.”

Pasti said the digitization project and the SDMA could use help and is offering a few internships for detail-oriented students of any major interested in assisting with research and the entering of information into the database.

“This could be a really fun project for someone,” Pasti said. “The more help we have, the sooner the objects will be available online.”