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About the Wisconsin Museums Institution Digital Collections

Wisconsin hosts more than 350 museums across all corners of the state. These institutions play a vital role in educating the public about art, history, and science through the collection, preservation, and exhibition of artifacts from those fields. While these establishments play a vital role in informing Wisconsinites’ about the heritage of their home state, there is no centralized entity to describe their story. The Wisconsin Museums Digital Library (WMDL) fills that void by assembling an array of items that capture the essence of their mission in both past and present. We collect primary sources both from the organizations themselves, journalists, and citizens that range from television stories and radio interviews to historical images of the museums and publicity information. While our collections are strongest in Southeast Wisconsin, museums from the Nevill Public Museum of Brown County to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton are included.

Collection Development Policy

The Wisconsin Museums Digital Library collection development policy has several parts, focused on the emphasis of the organization and the nature of the material. First, the museums must be in Wisconsin. This digital library accepts the definition of museums offered by the Wisconsin Federation of Museums (2016) as β€œan organized and permanent non-profit, essentially educational or aesthetic in purpose, with professional paid or unpaid staff, which owns and utilizes objects, cares for them, and exhibits them to the public on a regular schedule,” (1). All the institutions included in WMI meet all those criteria. Second, material must be historical in nature. The historical element has three parts, where the item in question documents:

Meeting any of those criteria will make the item possible to be admitted to the Digital Library, and meeting more than one point will improve its chances of accessioning. The decision to include materials in WMDL ultimately rests with the leadership of the Digtial Library.

Note: the Museum symbol from the right side of the header was created Otterinfo at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MuseumNPS1.svg and has been adapted for this website. The Wisconsin counties map, from the left side of the header, is in the public domain.


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