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The 2011 ARTstor Newsletter is out! Read it online:

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As of August, teachers, scholars, students, and staff at over 1,375 educational institutions are using ARTstor images for their academic and curatorial work. ARTstor Digital Library now includes over 1.3 million very large image files that we aggregate in response to what our users want to use. We also build tools (such as the capacity to make a PowerPoint presentation with one click or to quiz yourself using “flashcards” on iPads or iPhones) that are directly aimed at teaching, learning, and research. But we are doing more than providing a library of images; staff at over 40 institutions now are able to use Shared Shelf, the web-based cataloging and image management system that will help institutions to manage their own local content.

Alexander Bassano, Isobel Elsom | George Eastman House

These various approaches—aggregating content from museums and photographers and archives as well as building enabling infrastructure—are directed toward one goal: increasing the flow of images into educational use. Primary source material is endless, as is the academic hunger for more such original content. We aim to play a role in contributing to the community’s capacity to build, share, and use content. Since 2004, we have done this by connecting users to fantastic content in the visual arts but also across the liberal arts. We do this by working to earn the trust of content owners and users so they can do more together, and by building tools that help institutions manage and share collections. But we also do this by being flexible and evolving our organizational model. There’s a great deal in flux in the digital ecosystem, and by pursuing our work as a nonprofit we can vary our approaches to respond to community needs.

The community sustains Shared Shelf and the ARTstor Digital Library through subscription fees, which are scaled to the size of the institution. But other things that we do, such as Images for Academic Publication—spearheaded by the Metropolitan Museum in 2007 but now growing to include Mellink Archive (Bryn Mawr College), Yale University Art Gallery, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and others— provides publication-quality images for academic publications without any charge to scholars. Projects such as the Built Works Registry (a joint project with the Avery Fine Arts and Architecture Library at Columbia University and the Getty Research Institute and supported by an IMLS grant) will be free and open-access to contributors and users. These are some of the steps forward that your subscription fees make possible for ARTstor to support. Being sustainable allows us to serve our users well by being responsive to community needs. We may be playing a role as a node in the network, but it is really the work of scholars, curators, educators, librarians, catalogers, registrars, photographers, conservators, archivists, fundraisers, and others that make all these endeavors possible.

This mixed mode, wherein we balance the needs of the community with our ability to play a constructive role in responding to those needs, ties together the various activities that we are pursuing. Helping to enable integration may not sound as glorious an undertaking as some slogans, but for the complex, fascinating, and dynamic communities that we serve, building a variety of bridges in a variety of ways seems more fruitful than blindly committing to only one “business model” or pursuing solitary paths.

With all best regards,

James Shulman
President

Neil Rudenstine
Chairman of the Board

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Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), the leading independent organization dedicated to saving the world’s most treasured places, talks to Christine Kuan about the history and future projects of WMF. The ARTstor Digital Library recently launched WMF’s images of architecture, sites, and monuments from around the world.

Jaisalmer Fort; Exterior, India. | Photographer: Mark Weber. | World Monuments Fund

CK: What is the mission of WMF?

BB: World Monuments Fund works globally to ensure that heritage sites of worldwide significance are preserved, protected, and play a meaningful role in the local and global community today.

CK: How many countries has WMF worked within since its founding in 1965?

BB: In our more than 45 years of serving the field of heritage conservation, WMF has conducted and supported field projects in more than 100 countries, at nearly 600 sites.

CK: What are the challenges of preserving world monuments in the 21st century?

BB: Heritage sites face a range of threats, which have to do with changing ways of life, values, and the impact of a changing environment. Everything from the past cannot be saved as the world continues to reshape itself. In spite of their best efforts, governments cannot protect every site that is confronted with potential loss. Communities rally around the monuments that are most meaningful for them to save, but often they do not have the vision, the resources or the momentum to achieve their goals. This is where an international organization, the voice of an international concerned citizenry can help. The biggest challenge for the preservation field today is to preserve not only buildings themselves, but a meaningful context that will allow them to continue to play vital roles within the community where they exist.

CK: What is the most complex project you’ve worked on during your tenure at WMF?

BB: Sometimes projects are complicated from a technical perspective and sometimes they involve bringing together a diverse political consensus. It is the latter situation that is more complex. After the end of the Soviet period, WMF began to work extensively in eastern and central Europe. Many great heritage sites had been neglected for ideological reasons, especially sacred places and estates associated with the aristocracy. There was no prioritization or sense of how and where to start. Local authorities had no experience with how to make a monument economically self-sufficient. In the communist system the state had owned and paid for everything. Powerful officials made all the decisions. Our process of forging consensus about what to do and how to make it happen was a new idea to our counterparts in the former soviet bloc. It was a very exciting but often frustrating and complicated process. We never knew where we stood, and whether at the end of the day someone could stand in the way of all we were trying to achieve, simply because they had the power to do so. Working in postwar Iraq there is a similar feeling of uncertainty about whether the good alliances we have formed with our local counterparts will stand the test of time, as the government is still rapidly changing and evolving. Until things settle down and normalize politically, it will be difficult for people in the cultural sector to achieve lasting results that the society can embrace.

CK: How has Internet impacted the work of WMF?

Maya Sites of the Yucatan Peninsula, Yucatán, Mexico, ca. 600-900. Photographer: Bonnie Burnham. World Monuments Fund.

BB: The Internet has had a wonderful impact on our work in making it more widely accessible in ways we could not have imagined or planned for. When our World Monuments Watch list is announced every two years, the information reaches millions of people around the world in a matter of minutes. We get extraordinary responses from people everywhere who are moved by the places we are trying to defend. We can get a feeling for the local events they are organizing – a vigil, a rally, or a hearing. The connections are immediate.

Another way the Internet helps us is as a virtual environment for presenting the places we are trying to preserve, giving many people an opportunity to experience a real sense of place. With the development of other forms of new technology, such as laser scanning, we are now able to recreate monuments that are far away, inaccessible, or even lost, for a worldwide audience. This is a powerful new form of education.

CK: Part of WMF’s mission is education and training, what are some of the most critical education programs sponsored by WMF?

BB: We support many hands-on training programs at sites where we work. It is wonderful to see our trainees become personally involved with and committed to saving places that they might have been indifferent to prior to this opportunity, simply because they had not been able to see what we valued in those places. It’s very inspiring when a young person with no educational preparation comes to share and embody the values that inspire your own work. But my favorite educational program is one that WMF helped to establish at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design in Brooklyn, NY. The curriculum at this school draws completely upon learning directly from experiences in the built environment surrounding the school and in the community. Every academic course curriculum at every grade is interwoven with experiential knowledge from local landmarks – whether it’s English, math, science or history. The students learn from the monuments around them. I believe it is a very good way to learn, and the academic success of the students in the school has borne that out. Sometimes their lives are transformed by this opportunity. I wish I had had a similar experience when I was growing up.

CK: Has digital photography been useful to the work of WMF?

BB: Digital photography has and will continue to transform our ability to understand places. So much can be done to work with these images, integrate them together, transmit them around the world, and keep them permanently as a record of a given place at a given time, that digital images have almost outdated traditional photographic means. Traditional photography has become as a consequence more of an art form, a way of recording a moment or a sensation or a sense of place. All that is wonderful and legitimate, but perhaps the two have different purposes and different uses today.

CK: You studied at the University of Florida and l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne and devoted your career to cultural heritage preservation. Are there notable different cultural approaches to the preservation of world monuments?

BB: Nothing in my academic training prepared me for my career in heritage conservation, unless it was the opportunity of international study, where I learned very quickly that there are completely different cultural perspectives and approaches to education itself. I continue to be educated by every new project, country, and cultural environment in which we work. There are indeed different ways of thinking about monuments, different aesthetic and ethical approaches to preservation, and different ways in which communities and authorities locally express their respect for these sites.

Preah Khan; Exterior, ca. 12th c. Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. Photographer: John Stubbs/World Monuments Fund

CK: Is there any site/monument that you’ve always wanted to work on but never had the chance?

BB: Yes. The Taj Mahal. We were able to do a little work there, but not enough to help transform the run-down area around the monument and improve the overall experience of visiting the Taj, which would have been our long-term goal.

CK: What is one of the most endangered sites/monuments now that everyone should be aware of?

BB: The most endangered monuments today may be those that are most appreciated by the public. It is very rare for a good system to be in place to help preserve and protect monuments in relation to their own public. That public, especially in the form of tourists, can completely change the nature of the place, without meaning or wanting to do so, just by their very presence. The most endangered monument that is being lost, probably irretrievably, today is Venice. This is because of a range of factors working together to produce a net loss, which is getting worse as the years go on. The environmental impact of rising water is ominous. The demographic changes of the city, with the Venetians leaving or being forced out because of rising property values, the unregulated numbers of tourists and the insensitive commercial decisions – from allowing oversized tour boats in the canals to selling huge space for advertising panels on key monuments – have degraded its sense of place, and it is steadily losing its appeal as a living community. The political powers of the city, and its citizenry, do not seem to have the will to save historic Venice as a vital city.

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Henri Matisse | Still Life with Gourds, 1916. | Image © 2010 The Barnes Foundation. All Rights Reserved. | © 2009 Henri Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The ARTstor Digital Library now makes available more than 1.3 million images in the United States and over one million images internationally, and we have another million images in our production queue. Collections continue to grow rapidly, with some 160,000 new images released from 55 new and expanded collections in the past year. ARTstor also reached agreements for 26 new collections, including: Guggenheim Museum; the Courtauld Institute; Museum of the City of New York; Pre-Columbian Artifacts from the Kerr Archives; Columbia University: Architecture of Japan; ART on FILE: United Arab Emirates; Via Lucis: Medieval Christian churches in France and Spain; Julius Shulman (Getty Research Institute); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: University Library, and more. Today, these diverse and excellent collections serve interdisciplinary teaching and research needs across museums, schools, and campuses in 46 countries.

Every week we receive queries about contributing collections from around the world, and we are now working on new collaborations with institutions in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, Canada, England, Mexico, Scandinavia, Ireland, Belgium, and many other countries. As institutions and individuals strive to make their important collections known and accessible to educational and scholarly users, ARTstor has become an increasingly valuable channel for serving just that purpose. Not only are collections in ARTstor reaching those faculty, curators, educators, librarians, and students interested in cultural heritage materials, but the audience for the ARTstor Digital Library has expanded to encompass those in the fields of Literary Studies, Foreign Languages, Religion, Psychology, Economics, Politics, World History, Environmental Studies, Natural Science, American Studies, Women’s Studies, Early Childhood Education, Middle Eastern Studies, and more.

Our Travel Awards 2011—five awards of $1,500 to the authors of the best essays and image groups describing how they teach and research with ARTstor—demonstrated that ARTstor collections are reaching across disciplines to serve faculty, scholars, and students in areas well beyond the history art.

Uncut imperial dragon robe with twelve symbols, 1796-1820. Musée Guimet (Paris, France). Photographer: Thierry Ollivier. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.

This year’s winners include: Colette Apelian, Fine Art faculty, Berkeley City College, who wrote about Online Teaching and Architectural Solutions to Climate Problems in the Islamic World; Keri Cronin, Department of Visual Arts faculty, Brock University, who examined animal rights through historical and contemporary paintings, fashion, and photography in her essay, Picturing Animals; Jacquelyn DeLombard, Beginnings Pre-School owner/teacher, Philadelphia Museum of Art Teacher Resource Center volunteer, who gave us an inside look at how digital art images can transform the learning experience for pre-school students in her essay, Teaching Shapes, Colors and Size to Young Children; Julia Reinhard Lupton, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The University of California, Irvine, who discussed how she projects ARTstor images in the classroom as backdrops for students to enact Shakespeare plays in her essay, A Shakespeare Gallery; and finally, Elizabeth Perkins, Columbia University graduate student, who argued compellingly for the value of zooming into details in paintings for the study of art history in her essay, ARTstor: Making the Case for ‘Real’ Paintings in the Classroom.

The ARTstor Digital Library has been strengthened through its seven-year history by the ongoing contributions, subscriptions, and usage of the international community. We would not be able to serve the teaching and research needs in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences without the unparalleled support of visual resource curators, librarians, scholars, educators, and students who teach and study every day with ARTstor. Enabling the discovery and utilization of images of rare cultural objects, cutting-edge architectural works, and a broad range of historical, political, social, economic, and cultural documentation from prehistory to the present in a single online workspace is our core mission and we welcome your continued participation and insights into how to continue to improve this growing community-built resource.

—Christine Kuan, Chief Content Officer & Vice President of External Affairs

Wang Xiao'an, East China Architect Design & Research Institute, Shanghai World Expo Cultural Center; twilight view, 2010. Shanghai EXPO, Shanghai, China. Image and original data provided by ART on FILE, http://www.artonfile.com

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Africa: People, Culture, and Art

- Julie Nanavati, Librarian, Loyola Notre Dame Library

Women of the Konate family making jars using the concave mold and coiling techniques; Mrs. Konate, Burkina Faso. | Photographer: Christopher D. Roy. | Image and original data provided by Christopher D. Roy.

For the past three years at Loyola-Notre Dame Library I have been involved in teaching library research sessions for several African History courses such as Women & Social Change in Modern Africa, Apartheid and its Demise in South Africa, and Africa: Past and Present. Students in these classes select from a wide range of social and historical research topics in which they incorporate a blend of primary and secondary resource materials.

One of the most important concepts in the students’ research is the ability to recognize and understand that Africa is not just one country, one culture, but many countries made up of hundreds of unique peoples and societies. The images illustrating Africa: People, Culture, and Art include photographs from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa and provide a window into the lives, culture, and art—from daily life to religious practices and celebrations—of a few of the varied peoples in these regions.

Among the examples I use, I have explored handcrafts and clothing choices, buildings, and rituals. One such ritual is funeral rites. Looking through the funerary images, a strong cultural contrast is visible in both clothing and formality: in Ghana, at a traditional Akan funeral (the funeral of the Omanhene of Techiman (Takyiman)), mourning clothing of red and black is worn by all; at a friend’s funeral in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan a man is shown with painted white body art and minimal clothing (Natu at the funeral of his friend Napi, East Africa); while a mix of western and more traditional clothing is worn by a group at a simple funeral for a child in a remote village in Ethiopia.

The funeral of the Omanhene of Techiman (Takyiman), Joe Frimpong. Women lined up to enter the courtyard funeral of Osabarima Dotobibi Takyia Ameyaw II | Image and original data provided by Christopher D. Roy

Through these images students also explore the lives of women in African communities, an area in which many of my students focus their research. In the group are photos of women working, with their families, and creating items for daily use, as well as images of body ornamentation. A selection of images by Christopher D. Roy looks at the cooperative process through which a group of co-wives from Burkina Faso work at the daily task of creating pottery. Other images offer a detailed view of body scarification from two vastly separated groups—one in the Sudan, and one in Nigeria—showing both the process and the intricate finished patterns being displayed by the women.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the ARTstor image collection is its ability to transport students into new cultures in ways that years before would have been limited to a few photo journals or spreads in National Geographic. The more our students today can explore these societies, the greater understanding the next generation will have of the world.

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Working with colleges and universities that sought to bring together disparate image collections managed in various departments across the campus, ARTstor has been building and deploying Shared Shelf, a Web-based platform that allows for the managing of local image collections. Currently, 40 institutions are using the early versions of the service, and are mixing local campus content with ARTstor collections for end users via the ARTstor work space. Catalogers can call upon the authority files built by the Getty Research Institute, and projects can be set up with very simple or very rich data, depending upon the needs of the materials and the users of those materials. Content can be published to a range of local or open Web targets, and more functionality will be released over the course of this academic year that will allow for the collective building of shareable work records (i.e. one shared record for a famous building) and for more interoperation with other systems. “The work that we do,” ARTstor’s President James Shulman noted, “is driven by the characteristics of primary source material. Managing such content is technologically and legally complex and we believe that managing such material should be thought of as a shared responsibility and a shared need. Everything that we do—whether it is aggregating content that users want in the ARTstor Digital Library, building tools that facilitate flexible sharing, or working with the community on shared cataloging resources—is tied together by a need to help content flow for academic use. Shared Shelf helps these images flow into teaching and research across a given campus or across a consortium, and has the potential for helping content to be shared on a wider basis.”

Find out more at www.sharedshelf.org.

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  • ARTstor Mobile: Access via your iPad, iPhone, and the iPod Touch. Check out the Flashcard View!
  • Results per page: Choose 24, 48, or 72 images per pages. Registered users can change their default number by clicking on Preferences > Display Options.
  • Describe your image groups: Open your image group, click on Create image group description. You can share, hide, and even print your descriptions.

*Need more tips? See ARTstor Help Wiki.

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