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Art Collection To Go Digital in 2020 Thanks to IMLS


Each day, the Collections Department gets calls from researchers, publishers, and guests asking what the museum has in its collection. Following the lead of other museums around the nation, the South Carolina State Museum is researching how to best to get our collection online to share with everyone. With over 80,000 objects and 200,000 natural history specimens, this is no small task!

In September of 2018, the Museum received great news—the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America program awarded us a grant of $209,000 for a two-year Collections Stewardship project focusing on our Art Collection. Thanks to IMLS, we will inventory the locations of each piece, capture high-quality digital images of each piece, and create updated records in our new collections management system. By the end of the project in 2020, we will be ready to unveil a new online portal with 3,500 searchable art entries.

Applying for an IMLS grant takes months of planning and work. Collections staff visited or talked with many museums about their own experiences with inventories and digitization. We partnered with the South Carolina Digital Library and photographer Hunter Clarkson to develop guidelines and photography setups to ensure our project is up to national data and imaging standards. Once the application was submitted, we spent the next 9 months moving our collections database over to new software, Axiell’s EMu, which will allow us to record new types of data for all parts of our collection.

What’s Included:

As part of the award, IMLS generously funded:
• Photography equipment
• New workstations
• A high-resolution scanner
• New positions, including a full-time inventory coordinator and four part-time project assistants

We look forward to sharing our exciting progress with you through the Museum’s social media channels. If you want a behind-the-scenes look, be sure to follow us! As we have for over 30 years, our goal remains to collect, preserve, and showcase South Carolina and her rich heritage. Thanks to IMLS, we look forward to bringing the collection online for our guests everywhere.


Meet the Team

· Tellie Simpson- Collections Inventory Coordinator
Assists with project management of the inventory team.

· Megan McDonnough- Collections Assistant
Physically locates and documents the condition and location of each object.

· Donna Paquin- Collections Assistant
Physically locates and documents the condition and location of each object.

· John Stoupenos- Photography Assistant
Captures and edits digital images of each object.

· Chris Sagrera- Data Entry Assistant
Verifies and edits hard copy files to align with the collection database.


So far, they have inventoried and digitized more than 900 objects!


About IMLS
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 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.