Cataloguing and Preservation
For the first time in its more than 40 year history, The Heritage Center completed a cataloguing of its nearly 10,000-piece collection in the fall of 2009 thanks in part to a generous funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Bush Foundation. The comprehensive project—led by former director Peter Strong and former Curator Mary Bordeaux—provided an incredible knowledge base of its historic collection, bringing to the forefront a number of important pieces that are internationally recognized. A digital database of the collection now exists for the first time ever, which makes documentation, research, exhibit selection, and many other activities easier and more efficient.
Cataloguing the past, preserving the future
With historical pieces dating back to the early 1800s, as well as recent pieces accumulated from The Heritage Center’s annual art show, items in the collection had been received with little (or sometimes no) data as to their history or interpretation. With the sudden death of the Center’s founding director Br. C.M. Simon, S.J., in 2006, the documentation and cataloguing project became an immediate need before further institutional memory on the pieces was lost.
The cataloguing and preservation of The Heritage Center’s extensive collection was crucial for documenting interpretive and historical information about not just the pieces, but also the artists who created and donated the pieces. The knowledge gained as a result of the project provides the staff, local Lakota audience and public visitors—as well as art and history scholars—with greater accessibility to the pieces, and will help to more effectively interpret, exhibit, preserve and market the pieces for decades to come.
Art revealed, mission strengthened
As a result of the cataloguing and preservation project, The Heritage Center was able to realize:
- A more accurate, appropriate, and effective plan for The Heritage Center’s future, including a plan for what types of new media to accept, in which direction to focus new acquisitions, and how to market the collection most effectively.
- Strengthened financial sustainability for The Heritage Center as a result of a more comprehensive knowledge of the collection, by an improved ability to market the collection to the public, scholars, and other museums or galleries that might wish to exhibit some of the Center’s pieces on loan. Through the greater visibility of the collection that will result, we expect to see more visitors to The Heritage Center and to the annual Red Cloud Indian Art Show, resulting in greater sales through the gift shop, the Show, and the upcoming online gift store.
- Guidance in an evaluation of The Heritage Center’s vision and mission, again improving the Center’s ability to position itself more effectively for its audience, its mission, its history, and its financial sustainability.