The collection assembled by H. J. Vinkhuijzen (1843-1910), a Dutch physician, and presented to the Library by Mrs. Henry Draper in 1911, consists in its entirety of over 32,000 pictures, from many sources, mounted in 762 scrapbooks. (The digital presentation will ultimately include them all.) The collection is remarkably diverse, depicting costume as various as the rough wool garments of Bronze age Etruscan warriors, the robes of Ottoman Turk court officials, and the elaborate uniforms of the preening armies of 19th-century Europe, the collection's special strength.
The aesthetic quality of the images varies. There are prints seemingly cut from 17th-century festival books along with 19th-century chromolithographs, original watercolor compositions of some artistic merit, crude pencil drawings, and occasional photographs. Dr. Vinkhuijzen's usual strategy was to extract plates from illustrated books and magazines. He colored some of the printed images, and when printed images were lacking, drew others by hand. Some of the unsigned watercolors found in the collection may also be by him. He arranged his collection as loose images in boxes according to his own classification system; this organization is retained for browsing the digital collection. (Mounting the plates in scrapbooks was apparently accomplished by others after Dr. Vinkhuijzen's death.) The New York Public Library comprises simultaneously a set of scholarly research collections and a network of community libraries, and its intellectual and cultural range is both global and local, while singularly attuned to New York City. That combination lends to the Library an extraordinary richness. It is special also in being historically a privately managed, nonprofit corporation with a public mission, operating with both private and public financing in a century-old, still evolving private-public partnership. Last year, over 16 million New Yorkers visited the library, and over 25 million used its website.
The NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 640,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including not just photographs but illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and more.
Digital projects and partnerships at NYPL are managed by the Digital Experience Group, a 21-person team of programmers, designers and producers dedicated to expanding and enhancing all points of computer and Web-mediated interaction with the library's collections, services and staff.