Allison Cywin


Art Education, Art History & Media Studies




College of Visual & Performing Arts 257


Simmons College, BostonMS Library and Information Science
Roger Williams UniversityHistoric Preservation and American Studies



Allison J.Cywin joined Art History Department at the College of Visual and Performing Arts in the summer of 2004 and serves as the Director of the Visual Resource Center.  During her tenure, she transformed the VRC from a traditional slide library to an image and multimedia digital repository.  Her role is to generate and manage digital assets and disseminate these resources for the purpose of classroom instruction and research campus wide.

Cywin has served on CRIAL - Digital Archive Task Force Committee, and OLIS Rhode Island Image Digital Task Force (1999) and continues to serve on committees specifically related to archives, museums and digital professions including Rhode Island Historic Record Advisory BoardNew England Archivist, and American Association of Museums. Cywin also serves as a grant reviewer for Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Historical Publications & Records Commission.    

Cywin has presented and conducted training sessions for Rhode Island College, New England Museum Association, and New England Archivists, Massachusetts Art Education Association related to the care, and the collection management of iconographic materials, and digitization of photographic collections and visual literacy.

In 2006, Cywin received her M.S. in Library and Information Science, with an emphasis in digital asset management, at Simmons College, Boston, MA. and her B.A. in Historic Preservation and American Culture, with a concentration in architectural and art history, at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI .  She has acquired additional photographic and digital instruction through Northeast Document Conservation Center School of Scanning: Creating, Managing and Preserving Digital Assets and George Eastman House and the Rochester Institute of Technologyseminar Preserving Photographs in a Digital World.  She also completed a one-year apprenticeship with paper conservator, David Dudley of David Dudley, Art Conservation Resource Center, Boston, MA.

Cywin began her career as the curator of the Newport Art Museum. During her ten-year tenure, she curated numerous contemporary exhibitions featuring works by renowned artists: Dale Chihuly, Andy Warhol, Howard Ben Tre, Tom Patti, Stephan Brigidi, Chris Van Allsburg, Joseph Norman, among others.  Cywin organized two international traveling exhibitions to Canada and Australia. She served as staff liaison to oversee a two-million museum building program that included new climate-control galleries, permanent and temporary storage facilities, as well as registration, shipping, and receiving areas.

In the early 1990’s, Cywin accepted the Graphics Curator position at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s research library. The graphics collection represents three-centuries of iconographic materials that included photography, prints, drawings, architectural drawings, cartography, ephemeral materials, and 16mm television newsfilm collection. During her twelve years with the Society, she automated the rights and reproduction services and developed a collection database system. She wrote and received numerous public and private grants to support visual anthropology projects like the Rhode Island Dairy Project with photographer David Witbeck, Central Falls a Community of Diversity with photographer and UMASSD alumni, Christian Corrigan and a collection of stereo views of nineteenth-century Rhode Island in 3D presented by historian Ned Connors April 1, 2000.   Before leaving the Society she established an in-house digital lab to digitize and preserve the Society’s nineteenth-century glass plate, nitrate, and acetate negative collections.   She developed the Rhode Island Family Heritage Project, an on-line public access catalog system that incorporated museum and library collections under a single interface system and funded by Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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