The Dorsky Museum and four Ulster County partners launch searchable database of art collections

Jeremy Adams (Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild), Ariel Shanberg (Center for Photography at Woodstock), Ann Kalmbach (Women’s Studio Workshop), Carl van Brunt (Woodstock Artists Association and Museum), and Sara Pasti (Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art).

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The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, lead member of the Hudson Valley Visual Art Collections Consortium (HVVACC), announced on June 15 the launch of a web-accessible database that features images and information for more than 7,000 objects from the collections of The Dorsky and four other Ulster County visual arts organizations—the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and Women’s Studio Workshop.

Lead funding for the project was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), through a grant supported by New Paltz alumnus and former United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey ’68 (English), ‘70g (Education). The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Additional support for a pilot project that helped shape the final website was provided by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

Dorsky Museum Director Sara Pasti said, “This project is the result of five years of work on the part of The Dorsky and its partners, each of which was required to create digital images of collection objects and to transfer data from existing stand-alone databases to a new web-based software program. The Dorsky and its partners are thrilled to launch a website will showcase their collections. The public is in for a treat.”

In his letter supporting the original grant, Congressman Hinchey wrote: “The Hudson River Valley is a unique region with abundant resources that deserve our attention and our protection. This collaborative effort is an outstanding step toward ensuring that these treasures are conserved for future generations to enjoy.”

In addition to this collection digitization effort, Pasti said that the HVVACC received a second IMLS grant in 2013 to support planning activities leading to the development of a Hudson Valley regional visual art collections storage facility and study center that will allow collection artworks to be housed in a central location where they can be easily accessed for purposes of study, research, and exhibition development.

“From the 19th century to the present, the Hudson Valley has been a cradle for artistic creation and innovation,” said Pasti. “The Hudson Valley was home to the Hudson River School painters, the first recognized school of American art. In the early 20th century, the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, now Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and other Woodstock art organizations brought significant numbers of artists to Woodstock. The Center for Photography at Woodstock was one of the first organizations to recognize, support and collect photography as fine art.”

Ariel Shanberg, executive director at the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW), said, “This is an exciting next step in the way arts organizations in our unique region of the world are working together. It dynamically builds on the important relationship we established in 1996 with the museum’s founding director, Neil C. Trager, when CPW’s permanent print collection was placed on extended loan with the Dorsky Museum – a partnership which has increased the accessibility to, visibility of, and appreciation for contemporary photography in the Hudson Valley for 20 years.”

The Woodstock Artists Association and Museum was developed to provide exhibition space for, and ultimately to collect, work by local artists. Women’s Studio Workshop, founded in 1974, has become the country’s largest publisher of artist hand-printed books. The Dorsky Museum was created to support and enrich the academic programs at the college, to present a broad range of national and international art for study and enjoyment, and to serve as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. The digitization project is a direct outgrowth of the Dorsky Museum’s mission to serve as a resource and cultural hub for the Hudson Valley region.

The HVVACC website——is hosted by the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council (SENYLRC), which is also located in Ulster County. The site is also accessible through the Hudson River Valley Heritage website at