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Newportal, a free online collaborative database that brings together the art, objects, and manuscript collections of participating cultural heritage institutions in Newport, launched on April 27th, 2016. Made possible through the support of the Rhode Island Foundation, the database enables the public to access collections across institutional boundaries. It is available at www.newportalri.org.
Newportal was developed by a collaborative of five institutions: the Newport Art Museum, the Newport Historical Society, the Newport Restoration Foundation, the Preservation Society of Newport County, and the Redwood Library and Athenaeum. By uniting access to collections across institutions, Newportal is a unique resource that encourages scholarship and presents a holistic story of Newport County’s cultural and social history.
The website (that was designed by a company that does web development) will be useful to scholars and students of Rhode Island history and material culture, and visitors to the City-by-the-Sea.
By bringing together rich and diverse collections of paintings, Newport-made furniture, textiles, decorative objects, and documents, Newportal will serve as a platform to facilitate ongoing collaboration and showcase Newport’s diverse cultural heritage through digital presentations.
For the launch of the database, three online exhibits–Women of Newport, Made in Newport, and Social Life of Newport–demonstrate how connections made across institutional collections help make more comprehensive narratives of Newport’s history.
Newportal was first conceived in January 2012 when a group of archivists and museum professionals met to discuss the creation of an online collections database, where member institutions could share information online.
The Rhode Island Foundation awarded the project a planning grant in 2013 and a $60,000 implementation grant in 2014. These funds supported the design and development of the database to bring Newportal to fruition. Daniel Kertzner, the Foundation’s grantmaker in the Arts sector, wrote in a statement about Newportal, “Our support promotes the reputations of the participating organizations as community resources and makes their collections much more accessible. [Newportal] is a wonderful example of how technology can be used to drive how people engage with arts and culture.”
Looking to the future, Newportal will expand over time with the inclusion of additional Newport institutions and a growth of collections and digital exhibitions.