Paula was excited to tell her friend, who is 96, that the kroje and other items that the friend had donated to the NCSML could now be viewed by anyone with internet access. Thanks to a new, ever-growing online collection of the artifacts housed at the NCSML, images of items can be reviewed and enjoyed. She told me that her friend had donated the items right before the flood of 2008. Not only did the items survive travel from the “Old Country,” as she called it, and the flood, but now are viewable by the world. And that’s just the beginning.

The goal is to make all of the artifacts available for viewing and to keep adding to it as the museum’s collection continues to grow. The online collection can be explored at

The software allows users a variety of database interactions. People can view and learn about items by looking through a several categories, ranging from vehicles to folk costumes to artwork, or they can search the database for specific items, characteristics, or donors. The online database also allows users to create and share their own online “collections,” as well as view “collections” others have shared.

NCSML collections manager Tricia Bender explained that the main goal of placing images and information about the museum’s artifact collection online is to increase accessibility and interest—locally, nationally, and beyond. Most people aren’t aware of the depth and breadth of the objects in the collection, because of the number of items and the fact they aren’t always on display.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize the full extent of the collection. This is an opportunity to get the whole database, the whole catalog, available for people to see,” Bender said.

The NCSML plans to use the online collection database as a tool for teachers. NCSML educators will be able to create collections to support lessons and curricula. Teachers also will be able to create their own collections tied to a course for students to access. In addition, the curators can now create “exhibitions” in the online database of the artifacts from the NCSML’s own collection that are in one of our original exhibitions. This will enable people to dig deeper into the information on the individual artifact not always possible to include in a large exhibition.

The online collection project was made possible by generous donations from Don and Irene Naxera Hamous and the Program Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

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