It’s great to know that the ARTstor Digital Library offers more than 1.6 million images when you’re searching for something in particular, but a bit overwhelming when you just want to explore. With 235 collections from museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists’ estates, where to start browsing? We have some tips.
Let’s begin with an open secret: the slide show on the Digital Library’s search page. You’ve probably noticed the image at the top of the page, and that it changes each time you visit. But did you know you can open the image by double-clicking it? You can also learn about the collection it comes from by clicking on “INFO” on the upper right, or dive straight into the full collection by clicking on the name below the image. And you can scroll through the slide show by clicking on the arrows on either side of the slide to discover a wide selection of hand-picked images from other collections.
You can also go to the Browse section to discover images according to Geography, Classification (i.e. media), Collection, and Featured Groups. The first three options allow you to filter further, which helps you browse through more specific categories. For example, if you would like to see only manuscripts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can follow this path: Collection > Metropolitan Museum of Art > Manuscripts and Manuscript Covers; you can even filter further by geography to see only ones from, say, Iran. Or if you’re interested in Mexican painting, browse Geography > Mexico > Paintings (or Classification > Paintings > Mexico). The Featured Groups option works differently, offering a few curated subsets: Art History Topics, groups of 100 images focusing on different eras, regions, and movements, such as “Renaissance Art: Italy,” or “Oceanic Art”; similarly, Interdisciplinary Topics are also groups of 100 images each on topics other than art history, such as Classical Studies or Languages and Literature; and Travel Awards, which includes all the winning essays and image groups from our annual contest.
Another way to discover content is by seeing which images are most frequently associated with others in ARTstor image groups. Just as Amazon “recommends” other books that are often purchased by the same people who purchased the book you are buying, you can see (in ranked order) the other images people are using in image groups with the image you have found. Just look for the Associated Images icon () at the bottom of some images.
And, needless to say, there’s the ARTstor blog, which regularly features posts on interesting topics and new collections. You can subscribe to our monthly announcement here, or follow us on Facebook.com/artstor and Twitter.com/artstor.