ZMA closing Oct. 19 for six months to inventory collections

Staff Report
Published 11:00 a.m. ET Oct. 9, 2020


Online programs will continue and the museum will open twice during inventory to show the progress being made

ZANESVILLE – The Zanesville Museum of Art has announced that it will undertake a thorough inventory of its more than 8,000 work collection beginning mid-October.

The project, which has not been conducted in more than a decade, is vital to the museum’s future plans, according to Laine Synder, museum director. The collection inventory will:

  • Create greater accessibility to the ZMA’s extensive holdings through a searchable digital database.
  • Refine the institution’s collecting plan and prioritize the acquisition of underrepresented art and artists.
  • Allow the museum to further develop an education collection that will benefit new school outreach programs currently in development.

The initiative will take more than six months to complete and see the closure of the facility from mid-October through March 2021.

“The current health emergency has presented us with challenges including intensive cleaning protocols that, combined with low onsite attendance, which is a fraction of what it was before the pandemic, is challenging for the ZMA’s small staff. But the health emergency has presented us with opportunities as well,” said Snyder. “While we struggled with the decision to temporarily close the building to guests mid-October, it’s the right decision and will allow us to pursue the collection inventory and to deliver excellent online programs, which have grown in popularity dramatically over the last five months. The health emergency created a need for a robust online presence. The ZMA-Online is a series of topnotch programs that are accessible to the community from the safety of their home.”

Inventory will Create Greater Accessibility

Caring for the museum’s collection and the community’s cultural heritage is fundamental to the ZMA’s mission. Providing community members, students, educators, researchers, artists and guests easy access to the broad holdings of paintings, works on paper, sculpture, glass and the American Art Pottery collection is just as essential to that mission. The ongoing health emergency has brought accessibility into sharper focus as more of the museum’s exhibitions, programs and events are available online.

By digitizing each object in its holdings, the ZMA will create a searchable database accessible on our website that provides users the ability to explore the art, artists and themes present in the large collection. Also, the 70 percent of the ZMA’s collection that is not on exhibition will be viewable online once the inventory is complete.

By better documenting its holdings, the museum is better positioned to preserve and understand more about this region’s cultural heritage including the rich artistic production of art pottery in this region at the turn of the last century.

Another byproduct of the inventory will be a revised collection plan identifying under-represented art and artists in the collection. A revised collection plan will provide a road map of what art to purchase.

“We have a good collection of local, regional and Ohio artists, but we know this should be strengthened,” Snyder said. “The comprehensive inventory will allow us to revise our thoughtful collection plan so that we can continue to strategically purchase new work made by contemporary Ohio artists, especially those artists in this community.”

An inventory will aid the ZMA to further develop its education collection and make that collection accessible to educators and students. The museum has developed K–12 curriculum over the last several years. This include a new initiative in development called ZMA to Go, supported by the J.W. and M.H. Straker Charitable Foundation. Launching in fall 2021, artwork from the ZMA’s education collection will be utilized in school classrooms for new and unique learning experiences for students.

Project’s Timeline and Scale

A site-wide collection inventory will take the ZMA’s six-member, full-time staff more than six months and a great deal of space to complete. The ZMA has space in several galleries as a result of postponed exhibitions due to the ongoing health emergency. Each work of art of the collection will be removed from storage and moved to one of the large, secure galleries where it will be inspected, photographed and accessed for conservation.

“The ZMA staff is looking forward to the inventory. It’s time to make the entire collection available to the community,” Snyder said. “This staff is well-trained, thoughtful, and prepared to begin this rigorous process, which will require them to work diligently over the next six months to complete on time.”

The physical building will close on Oct. 19 and reopen in April 2021. Guests are still welcome online through a series of live, online programs and events that can be accessed on the museum’s webpage or social media.

In addition, the ZMA is planning several open house events during the inventory. The museum will open twice during the project to guests who register for a timed-entry tour to learn more about the collection inventory and get a first-hand look at the process. The dates of these open-house events will be announced soon and depend on state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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