CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Ackland Art Museum Launches Website Entirely Dedicated to a Collection of Drawings

The Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill has launched a website dedicated to the Peck Collection. The new website hosts an evolving body of scholarly content related to the collection of drawings and is designed to be a living resource, with ongoing research and new entries slated to be added.

According to the museum, is the only website of its kind devoted to a collection of drawings. It offers ultra-high-resolution images, giving visitors the ability to to examine the drawings and the structure of the paper on which they were made. Visitors can also see the verso, or reverse side, of each drawing, sometimes revealing sketches or notes by the artist long hidden behind the frame. The website allows viewers to examine the drawings in infrared light, revealing watermarks and other elements not visible to the naked eye. While there are a number of websites that offer similar functionality, none of them are focused exclusively on drawings and are devoted to an evolving collection.

In 2017, UNC alumnus Dr. Sheldon Peck and his wife Dr. Leena Peck gave the Ackland Art Museum their collection of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Dutch and Flemish drawings, along with an endowment to support a new curatorial position, future art acquisitions, exhibitions, educational materials, and public programs. Central to their vision was a robust website on the leading edge of the digital humanities, that would make possible a deep and significant virtual experience of the art in the collection.

The project was headed by Dana Cowen, Ackland’s Curator for European and American Art before 1950, and includes contributions by lead author Robbert Fucci. It took nearly two years to develop and was launched in conjunction with the first major exhibition of the Peck Collection, Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection at the Ackland Art Museum, which will be shown at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam from 18 March  to 11 June 11 2023, after being on view in Chapel in the winter of 2022. In September 2022, we published a feature by Robert Fucci in which he presented some of the highlights of the show and the research leading up to it.