The Newberry Library recently announced the availability of an amazing collection of digitized material related to early United States history and the Westward Expansion.
The Edward E. Ayer collection is one of the largest collections of materials related to Native Americans in the United States. Within this collection is an amazing cache of drawings by Sioux Indians, which are now available online. Additionally, the Newberry now offers these materials through an open-access policy, allowing anyone to use the images for any purpose.
The Villa i Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies, has launched “Drawings of the Florentine Painters,” a digital resource based on the Bernard Berenson publication of the same name. It’s an astonishing database that includes the text from all three editions of Berenson’s work, in both English and Italian, as well as thousands of images.
Being able to search, view, cross-reference, and explore all these drawings is impressive enough, but what makes this resource truly valuable is that the content of the catalogs has been converted into Linked Open Data, allowing researchers direct access to the data. The dataset is also available as RDF (resource description framework) for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, allowing researchers to use the data in potentially new ways and combine them with other open-data repositories.
Recently, the University of Aberdeen recently uploaded a digitized version of the Aberdeen Bestiary, one of the most lavishly illustrated bestiaries of the middle ages.
In addition to providing high-resolution images, the site also provides transcriptions and translations of the Latin text, as well as commentary on the work.
The link to the book is here.
I recently discovered that IMA Lab, the web design and development consultancy at the Indiana Museum of Art, have created a toolkit for the Online Scholarly Catalog Initiative, launched by the Getty Foundation in 2009.
The toolkit is an open-source project that allows museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions to create their own online catalogs. The toolkit offers an overview of the architecture necessary for the project, tutorials, a link to the GitHub page, and a demo site allowing people to play around with the tools.
Update: about a month ago, the IMA Lab provided a YouTube video explaining the OSCI Toolkit and gave a brief demonstration on how to use it. More information can be found here.
The Getty Research Institute has published the third edition of the very important “Introduction to Metadata” book edited by Murtha Baca.
As a specialist in metadata related to art and architectural resources, this text is practically my bible, and any update is most heartily welcome. In addition to providing a basic overview of metadata, it’s importance, and offering best-practice guidelines for it’s creation, this new edition contains information on linked open data, as well as resource description framework, making it an essential primer for anyone wanting to understand the importance of creating, editing, and preserving good metadata. There are also a chapter on rights metadata and a very thorough glossary.
Earlier this year, ARTstor announced that it was forming an alliance with ITHAKA, which currently operates JSTOR, Protico, and Ithaka S + R. Having ARTstor linked to JSTOR provides researchers not only with high-quality images of works of art, but also a wealth of research materials about that work.
Exploring Rembrandt is a “proof of concept” site produced by JSTOR labs and ARTstor labs using 5 Rembrandt paintings. Users can select one of the paintings, download a high-quality image from ARTstor, view the metadata provided by the owning institution, and find articles about the work via JSTOR.
Recently, the College Art Association and the Society for Architectural Historians released a very useful document. The Guidelines for the Evaluation of Digital Scholarship in Art and Architectural History is intended to “provide an extensible structure for scholars, academic departments, review committees, and others to employ when assessing digital scholarship. Though flexible, these guidelines offer concrete assistance to our colleagues as they develop best practices in their own institutional guidelines and establish benchmarks of excellence and accomplishment in the realm of digital scholarship.”
The guidelines cover definitions and criteria for assessment, forms of publication and evaluation, and collaboration. It’s the perfect document on which to build as digital scholarship moves forward in both museum and academic settings.
I was recently introduced to a great new collection database that’s open-source and free to the public, called Collective Access.
The program is web-based, uses accepted data schemas like Dublin Core and VRA Core and is customizable. It also provides features needed by museums, including storage information and loan tracking. Users can also import data sets like ULAN or WorldCat.
Documentation is provided for setting up. There is also a wiki and a forum to assist those who need it. For a free, easy-to-install product, Collective Access seems like a really nice product!
Another fantastic approach to using digital technology to study an artist, the Cranach Digital Archive is a collaboration between nine museums in Europe and the United States to build a digital repository of material related to Lucas Cranach, one of the most important artists of the Northern Renaissance.
From their website:
The Cranach Digital Archive serves three main purposes:
The Cranach Digital Archive will provide an opportunity for long-term storage of documentary material from museum and private archives such as reports, X-radiographs, colour slides and digital born images. Such material, particularly in smaller museums and private archives, is in danger of being lost within a relatively short period of time.
The documentary material will be recorded, catalogued and commented to provide most efficient access in the electronic environment. The cda serves as a platform from which all information currently housed in different institutions can be made accessible to the scholarly public.
- Research and Dissemination
The cda not only provides access to historical documentary material and completed research but also encourages new forms of interdisciplinary scholarly research and teaching. The project staff is actively involved in generating new documentary material, such as dendrochronological analysis and digital IR-reflectograms. In the future, the cda could be linked with relevant projects (Wege zu Cranach, exhibitions projects etc.) that draw on the content in innovative and exploratory ways.
The first issue of the “International Journal for Digital Art History” has been published and is available freely.
From their “About” page:
Many approaches are currently evolving in the international sphere of Art History and many questions still remain unanswered: What requirements does Art History have towards Information Technology? What projects do exist that can serve as best practice? Which direction does Art History go from here? How can we build an international community to reach our shared goals in research?