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Digital Art History  

Inspired by the report, Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship, by Diane M. Zorich for the Kress Foundation and CHMN
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Digital Art History Print Page

THATCamp CAA (2013 and 2014)


Kress Report

This guide is inspired by

Transitioning to a Digital World Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship
A Report to the The Samuel H. Kress Foundation and The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media George Mason University
By Diane M. Zorich Cultural Heritage Consultant
May 2012

Teaser excerpts below to get you to click on the full report

The examples listed below, while not comprehensive, give a sense of the type of research art historians might undertake with the aid of digital technologies: 

  • Visualizing a work of art in its place over time, e.g., viewing a painting, sculpture, or building in relationship to the environment around it and the changes to that environment over time.
  •  Tracking and visually displaying changes in the nature of an object over time, such as a sculpture that was originally polychrome but over the ages lost its color, became damaged, was repaired, etc.
  • Visually mapping/tracking works of art as they moved across space and time, from the workshop where they were created to the locations where they were bought, sold, exhibited, stolen, repatriated, etc.
  • Using art history’s iconic databases as large‐scale datasets (rather than just searchable resources) to reveal patterns, trends and insights that put forth new research questions.
  •  Mining collections of oral history audio and/or transcripts as datasets to explore patterns and address specific research questions about artists, genres, schools, etc.

Some Barriers:

  • Art history is a solitary endeavor
  • Art history is a conservative discipline
  • Biases like belief that print is the only valid form of publication OR anything that makes that process easier is “not pure scholarship.”
  • Outmoded reward and evaluation systems
  • The perfect is the enemy of the good (Beta is not a welcome concept)
  • Skepticism about digital art history and new media
  • Resource and funding issues
  • Access to images
  • Limitations to linking collections virtually



VR Special Issue: Digital Art History



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