Emory museum’s digital catalogue puts fiber arts at your fingertips

An uncommon collection of indigenous American fiber arts can now be found at your fingertips through the digital catalogue created for the Michael C. Carlos Museum’s newly opened exhibition, Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles.

The highly visual website, developed with expertise and funding from the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), marks the first time that Emory University’s ancient art museum has offered a digital catalogue for one of its exhibitions.

Not only is the online format more flexible and less expensive to produce than a print publication, it also allows the museum to extend the reach of the special exhibition that showcases more than 140 works of art from its permanent collection of Andean, Panamanian, and Guatemalan cultures.

“The versatility of online content allows us to provide broader access to our collections, supporting the educational mission of the university and the museum,” says Carlos Director Bonnie Speed. “The digital exhibition catalogue will be a great resource for teachers, scholars, and students.”

The online catalogue, which includes scholarly essays and gallery views as well as object images and descriptions, provides a particularly appropriate format to use for preserving and sharing images of textiles, according to the curator of the Threads of Time exhibition.

“Textiles are fragile enough that they cannot be displayed often — light fades even un-dyed white cloth,” says Professor of Art History Rebecca Stone. “A catalogue is invaluable to represent Emory’s fine collection in the area of indigenous American textiles, some of which are nearly 2,000 years old.”

The site also allows people to engage more closely with the materials, which represent a range of textile-related techniques such as three-dimensional embroidery, tie-dye, brocade, and tapestry. “The photographs of the textiles are in color and can be ‘zoom-able,'” Stone explains, referring to a user’s ability to adjust the view of photo images on certain devices, “and with textiles that are very colorful and very intricate, these are immense advantages.”

The Threads of Time project, which taps ECDS expertise in online exhibitions, represents the latest collaboration between Emory’s digital scholarship team and the Carlos Museum. Among other initiatives, the campus partners have previously worked on the museum site’s virtual exhibition section and a growing online catalogue of its permanent collection.

Michael C. Carlos Museum: Threads of Time exhibition details

Emory News Center: Threads of Time exhibit explores cloth as culture