Press release date: 
Monday, June 26, 2000

Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director of the Morgan Library, announced today that the Library has received a $1-million grant from the Homeland Foundation, Inc. for a project under way with Princeton University's Index of Christian Art to catalogue and digitize the Library's entire collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. These manuscripts, which represent a thousand years of Western iconography, will be available for the first time in Internet-accessible databases. Scholars will be able to view Morgan manuscripts on the Internet through the Index of Christian Art while visitors to the Library's Web site will be able to browse the same data and images in CORSAIR, the Library's on-line catalogue.

"Digitizing and providing Internet access to these illuminated manuscripts will greatly benefit both the Library and everyone with an interest in medieval art and culture," said Pierce. "Access to these rare materials will increase dramatically and in unprecedented ways. We are grateful to the Homeland Foundation for joining the Getty Grant Program in making this remarkable resource possible."

In May 1999 the Getty Grant Program, a part of the J. Paul Getty Trust that funds a diverse range of projects, including research in the history of art and related fields, awarded a $250,000 grant to the Index of Christian Art to support the initial phase of this collaborative project. The Homeland Foundation's generous support completes the project's funding. The Homeland Foundation is a private, independent New York foundation that owns and operates historic Wethersfield House, Farm, Carriage House and Formal Gardens outside of Millbrook, New York, sponsors cultural and religious programs, and makes grants to cultural, educational, and religious organizations.

E. Lisk Wyckoff, Jr., President of Homeland Foundation, said, "Our grant makes the Morgan Library's collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts readily available in a significant manner to the public generally. Our founder, Chauncey Stillman, would be most pleased with this prospect."

The Morgan Library—an independent research library and museum with extensive holdings of manuscripts, drawings, and rare books—houses one of the preeminent collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. The collection spans some ten centuries of Western illumination and includes nearly 1,300 manuscripts as well as papyri. Since it became an educational institution in 1924, the Library has played a pioneering role in the development and training of American scholars in medieval studies, art history, and other fields. The new project represents an unrivalled opportunity to disseminate images and collection information to the widest possible audience.

The Index of Christian Art—the world's largest archive of medieval art and the most comprehensive database for Christian iconography—is an art historical resource that has served scholars from a wide range of fields for the past eighty years. It focuses on Christian art in all media from the early apostolic period to the late Middle Ages. (The term "Christian" is broadly construed and is by no means restricted to art that is theological in theme or produced within ecclesiastical contexts.) The Index currently holds descriptive records of over 200,000 works of art recorded in over 500,000 entries and classified under 26,000 specially created subject terms.

The Library and the Index of Christian Art will jointly create digitized images and detailed, descriptive records for each of the images in the Library's collection of illuminated manuscripts dating from the fifth to sixteenth centuries. The images and descriptions will be available publicly in CORSAIR, which will be accessible by early 2002 at www.morganlibrary.org.

The inclusion of the Morgan records in the context of the Index's iconographic classification system will provide scholars with a completely new way of studying these documents, making them available to a much wider research community than is currently possible. "The Index is a unique resource throughout the art world," stated Harold T. Shapiro, President of Princeton University. "Adding searchable data and images from the Morgan Library's holdings to the Index's database will enable scholars to study manuscript paintings in the Library's collections within wider contexts. The Foundation's generous support of this project will enhance scholarship in many disciplines."

The scheduled date for completion of the project is 2005, but images and records are made available on the Index of Christian Art database as they are created. Currently, about 2,000 of the Morgan Library's records and images are available in the Index database.