GLAMi nomination: The Boxwood Project

nominated by: Mark McKay, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
institution: Art Gallery of Ontario
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension

Intimate in scale and impossibly intricate in design, sixteenth-century miniature boxwood carvings have baffled the curious since the time they were made. Through the joint effort of the curatorial and conservation staff of the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Rijksmuseum, the long-held secrets of the construction of these tiny treasures have been discovered and their histories uncovered in preparation for the 2016– 2017 exhibition Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures.

Small Wonders focuses on two great North American collections of sixteenth-century boxwood carvings that were formed a century apart: the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Morgan Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron of Fleet (1923–2006) and J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) shared a passion for works of art that were formed at the intersection of faith and invention, the same point of departure that we used for our research and writing.

This website presents the original research published in 2016 by both the AGO and the Rijksmuseum, additional resources for researchers and teachers, and a complete catalogue raisonné featuring stunning new photography. Typically, a catalogue raisonné is a complete listing of a single artist’s work accompanied by detailed notes that help us to understand their complete body of work. This catalogue raisonné assembles, for the first time, every known example of these carvings—but who exactly made them remains a mystery.

The database is built using open source tools and gives visitors the ability to search, explore, create their own catalogs, compare images, deep zoom high-res images and discus findings with a community of scholars.

As part of the AGO’s commitment to access, a generic distribution of the technical components has been created and will be released to the open source community so that other museums and culture institutions can easily bring their collections online to enable scholarship.

This website is 100% responsive. We have ensured that the collection and scholar tool,  deep zoom and compare experience work on mobile.