The Morgan Library announced last week that it will put its entire drawings collection online by October 2014. The collection ranges from the 14th to the 21st centuries and is especially strong in Italian Renaissance works, as well as in French, British, Dutch, Flemish, and German drawings.
This is exciting news both for scholars and the general public. Since drawings are especially sensitive to light, they can only be exhibited for limited time periods under specific conditions, so this kind of widespread availability is very valuable. Over 10,000 images will be digitized, including 2,000 versos (the backs of the drawing paper) on which artists put rarely seen sketches and inscriptions. All images will be available in two formats: one for general identification and another for scholarly study with enhanced resolution.
Like many museums, the Morgan Library has worked with the Google Art Project. Morgan Library communications and marketing director Patrick Milliman told me via email that the Google Art Project currently has panoramic views of the library’s historic rooms as well as images of more than 100 works from the collection. But it is nice to see that the Morgan Library will dedicate space on its own website to house the digitized collection. A timeline is being worked out for the drawings to become available on its Google Art Project page.
Image: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, “Portrait of Cardinal Borghese,” courtesy The Morgan Library.