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Montpelier Digital Collections Project


The Montpelier Foundation has begun the process to develop a fully accessible and searchable digital collections database that links our archaeological, architectural, historical, and decorative arts collections. To begin this process, The Montpelier Foundation has received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities Advancement Grant to host a workshop at Montpelier as the first phase in the project. The workshop will bring together leading digital heritage scholars, curators, and community stakeholders together to establish a framework that will be open, accessible, and reproducible for other institutions.

Creation of the database will be conducted in partnership with Michigan State University’s MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences.

Collaborative, Accessible Collections

The project is designed to address a series of pressing needs both at Montpelier and in museum collections management, where collaborative, interdisciplinary research and community engaged interpretation are integral to the process of carrying out their mission. The proposed project will develop an open and accessible online database that brings together the various collections at Montpelier: The Archaeology Collections, Architectural CollectionsMontpelier Research Database (MRD), and the Decorative Arts Collection.

Such a project will ensure that collaborative, inter-departmental research, which is integral to the interpretation conducted by the property, can be conducted seamlessly. Additionally, the project will allow for the collections to be publicly accessible, ensuring that Montpelier’s stakeholders will be able to access all of our digital collections. This project is unique in its effort to bring together diverse collections and stakeholders.

The Workshop

In 2018, The Montpelier Foundation received funding through a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities Advancement Grant to support a 2 1/2 day workshop to build the foundation for this project. The workshop includes Montpelier staff, scholars and curators, experts in digital technology and heritage, and representatives from community stakeholder groups including descendants, volunteers, genealogists, and collectors, to build the framework for the proposed project. This group of individuals will convene at James Madison’s Montpelier in July of 2019 at Claude-Moore Hall, which features a multi-media classroom where the workshop will be live streamed and recorded.

This workshop and project is designed to be open and collaborative. Therefore, prior to the workshop, a survey will be distributed to gain a broad set of opinions about what different stakeholders would like to see in a publicly accessible collection. This survey will inform the conversation held at the workshop, ensuring that the final product is grounded in the needs of a broad audience.

Stay tuned to this page for more information on the workshop, and how you can be involved!

The Collections


The Department of Archaeology holds extensive archaeological collections that includes thousands of artifacts, excavation records, photographs, and notes from archaeological excavations from the past thirty years.

Documents and Oral History

While Montpelier holds minimal archival material in physical form, the Montpelier Research Database (MRD) holds thousands of transcribed records relating to the Madisons, duPont family, and the African American community who lived and worked at Montpelier. This includes oral histories of the Montpelier Descendant Community, maps, and images. The database is managed by the Department of Research.

Decorative Arts

The Decorative Arts collection includes hundreds of objects. These range from the furniture, paintings, and objects located in the Madison’s home, many with Madison provenance, reproductions, and objects from the duPont family. It is managed by the Curatorial and Collections Department.


The Architectural collection includes physical object fragments, components from the main house restoration, as well as a paperwork and fieldwork from the restoration and the documenting of the 150+ structures located on the Montpelier property. It is managed by the Architecture and Historic Preservation Department.

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