Goose decoy

University Museum artifact -- This goose decoy, made from the roots of a spruce tree by the Cree Indians located at the Mouth of the Great Whale River in Quebec, is part of the museum’s permanent collection and soon will be part of the digital collection as well. Anthropologist Lee Guemple collected the item in 1967. (Photo provided) Download Photo Here

August 01, 2011

Grant will help museum move into digital realm

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is the recipient of a 2011 Museums for America grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will help move the museum into the digital realm.

The $149,955 grant for collections stewardship will help the museum implement the digitization phase of its 21st Century Collection Management Initiative over the next two years.

Dona Bachman, director of the University Museum, said the first phase of the project began in 2005 and only recently ended, with the museum entering 60,000 manual records and updated descriptive information through a focused inventory. Digitization is the last step in this multi-step project.

The IMLS grant allows the museum to focus on 3,797 artifacts in the museum’s ethnographic, archaeological and historic collections, representing 26 themes from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania. Digitization, in this case, means that the artifacts will be part of 26 online collection portfolios, including photographs of the artifacts, within a researched context. Artifacts include jewelry, clothing, musical instruments, masks, tools and other items.

SIUC students will assist in photographing the collection and creating the online portfolios highlighting the artifacts. This online presence will help expand the reach of the University Museum beyond its physical walls, which is part of the mission of good stewardship to which the museum adheres.

“This grant allows us to share the museum’s collection with a limitless number of people, of all ages and interests,” Bachman said. “The University Museum holds its collection in public trust on behalf of the public we serve as a program of SIUC. Congratulations are due to Lori Huffman who authored the grant, and to the many SIUC students who will help the University Museum realize this public outreach program.”

In a news release from the IMLS, Director Susan Hildreth congratulated the University Museum and the other institutions that captured Museums for America grants.
“We are pleased to support museums through investments in high-priority, high value activities that benefit communities throughout the U.S.,” she said. “These museums, small and large, will help to educate and inspire the public for years to come.”

Lorilee C. Huffman, curator of collections and development officer, will serve as project director. Huffman has two other collection-related IMSL Museums for America grants to her credit already.

Museums for America is the Institute’s largest grant program for museums, providing more than $18 million in grants to support museums. Grants may be used for a variety of purposes, including ongoing museum activities, purchase of equipment or services, or in support of efforts to upgrade and integrate new technologies, as the University Museum is doing here.

The IMSL is the primary source of federal support for libraries and museums nationwide. To learn more, visit