The Springfield Museums have developed a comprehensive, searchable online database of one of the largest public collections of Currier & Ives prints in the world. The database has been funded with a generous grant from the Frank Stanley Beveridge Foundation.
The Springfield Museum of Fine Arts acquired the outstanding collection of 787 hand-colored lithographs from a private collector. Rotating exhibits of the prints are displayed on an ongoing basis in the museum's new Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert Gallery, the country's only permanent museum gallery devoted to the work of Currier & Ives. Currier & Ives' depictions of American life and history have helped to shape the country's self-image and have become iconic reflections of our national identity. Although the Museum of Fine Arts is able to exhibit only a small portion of the collection at any given time, the database provides broad public access to every image in this nationally significant collection. The searchable database contains a photograph for each of the 787 prints in the collection, and descriptive information about the prints is being added as it becomes available. The database is accessible to anyone with Internet access through the Springfield Museums' website, www.springfieldmuseums.org. The online database is also being integrated into three new curriculum units developed by professors at Bay Path College: "Cultural Analysis in American Literature Using the Lithographs of Currier & Ives"; "United States History to 1870: Analyzing Lithographs from the Currier & Ives Collection"; and "Using the Lithographs of Currier & Ives to Define and Reflect American Identity: A Visual Inquiry." Piloted during the spring semester of 2006, the curriculum units were designed to serve as a model for faculty at all seven Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield. The units will eventually be adapted to supplement the upper elementary school curriculum for Springfield students. To access the database, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org and click on the Museum of Fine Arts.