New-York Historical Society Receives $1 Million Grant
from the Leon Levy Foundation for Electronic Archive
New York, NY—February 11, 2019—The New-York Historical Society is building its first-ever accessible archive of electronic material in all formats with a new, $1,000,000 award from the Leon Levy Foundation.
Taking place over the course of five years, this project will both document the last three decades of the New-York Historical’s history, and implement best practices for digital archiving—a new and evolving process for cultural institutions. It will also position New-York Historical to begin actively collecting digital material as part of its collection development program, including documents, photographs, PowerPoint presentations, audio files, and video stored on a variety of media. New-York Historical will make the work products developed over the course of the project freely available to other repositories as possible templates.
“The Leon Levy Foundation’s visionary support will be transformative for our institution and its archives,” said Dr. Louise Mirer, president and CEO of New-York Historical Society. “At a time when libraries and museums around the nation are grappling with the best way to preserve and share electronic content, this grant will allow New-York Historical to build on emerging best practices to ensure its recent history is recorded and made freely accessible for researchers, students, and the general public.”
“The Leon Levy Foundation is pleased that the grant will ensure that the vast collections of the New-York Historical Society will be made available to scholars,” said Shelby White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation. “The Leon Levy Foundation is committed to helping arts and humanities organizations catalogue, preserve, and digitize their collections.”
As the oldest museum in New York City as well as one of the nation’s principal research libraries, New-York Historical Society’s institutional history represents a key part of the larger landscape of the city’s cultural life—one that has been transformed by the onset of the digital age. The first comprehensive initiative to archive New-York Historical’s web-based material, this work will provide a vital contribution to the field of digital archiving in which many leading cultural institutions are engaged, creating best practices and models appropriate to its size and capacity. This archival material will chronicle the evolution of New-York Historical’s recent exhibition content, including material documenting the exhibition creation process, elements of each show, and accompanying audio and video content, along with the micro-websites for individual exhibitions. It will also include digital material on its past 30 years of public programs and digital educational resources.
In recognition of this extraordinary gift, the New-York Historical Society will name its digital library the Shelby White and Leon Levy Digital Library. Containing hundreds of thousands of images of books, manuscripts, photographs, drawings, and prints from the Library’s holdings, as well as thousands of objects from the Museum collections, this growing digital library will also host and make accessible the newly processed electronic content resulting from the project.These collections will be accessible in large part online, with selected bodies of material available exclusively on-site.
This project continues New-York Historical’s previous work with the Leon Levy Foundation to process and make public its paper-based institutional archive, spanning the first 210 years of its history. Already in high demand by both scholars and the public, this forthcoming archive brings the institution’s story into the present and lays the groundwork for preserving its history into the future.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, newspapers, broadsides, music sheets, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.
About the Leon Levy Foundation
The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, an investor with a longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation’s overarching goal is to support scholarship at the highest level, ultimately advancing knowledge and improving the lives of individuals and society at large.www.leonlevyfoundation.org