ARTstor – it’s not just for Artists!

ARTstor is a digital initiative by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is a repository for thousands of digital images and data. Images and their respective collections in ARTstor represent a broad range of cultures and time periods. Students are permitted to use ARTstor images in their research papers and other scholarly products, and faculty can collect and store images for a variety of purposes such as lecture materials and tests.

ARTstor contains several different collections. The most basic collection is the Image Gallery; a set of over 250,000 images offering a broad overview of world art, architecture, and visual cultural. Although this collection was originally based on slides used primarily for art history courses, it has grown to include images from a variety of sources and can be useful for a wide range of disciplines.

For example, in the Image Gallery.…

  • Historians will find Civil War cartoons of John Tenniel of interest.
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies folks may find uses for the Cuban Heritage set of early 1900’s photographs and 1900’s-present postcards.
  • Natural historians, botanists, biologists, and anthropologists should be excited to see images from “The First Fleet”. The First Fleet set is comprised of 629 watercolors painted by prisoners and sailors associated with the First Fleet of convicts sent from England to New South Wales in 1787. These paintings illustrate European settlers’ first encounters with the people, plants, and wildlife in Australia.
  • Early 20th Century American Sheet Music Covers should catch the attention of musicologists, illustrators, designers and historians.
  • 275 amazing images from Vesalius’ treatise on human anatomy are valuable to medical historians, anatomists, and artists.

Two separate ARTstor collections of particular significance to the Stony Brook community are the Huntington Archive of Asian Art and the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive (MIDA). The Huntington archive contains over 300,000 photographs of Asian art and architecture, taken by art historians John and Susan Huntington over a 30 year period. Countries represented in this collection include India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar. Many of the monuments and artwork photographed by the Huntingtons have since been destroyed, stolen, lost, or modified.

The Mellon International Dunhuang Archive (MIDA) archive is an ongoing, multi-national effort to create high-quality digital reconstructions of murals, other artwork, and texts associated with several hundred Buddhist cave shrines in Dunhuang, China. This collection even includes 360-degree QuickTime virtual reality (QTVR) reconstructions of 23 cave shrines. These QTVR renderings of the caves allow you to stand inside, turn around, and look at all the walls as if you were actually there! Stunning.

A few of the other individual collections in ARTstor include:

  • The MoMA Digital Design Collection. 8,000 digital images of about 6,200 works from MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design. Only 5% of these works have been previously published. The majority of objects in this collection are not on permanent exhibition.
  • The Native American Art and Culture Collection from the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archive includes 10,000 historical photographs digitized from the original glass plate negatives, as well as 2,000 Plains Indian “ledger drawings” from the mid- to late-19th century.
  • The Illustrated Bartsch contains about 50,000 images of Old Master European Prints from the 15th to the early-19th centuries. The library also has a print copy of this work – but you cannot check it out! ARTstor’s Illustrated Bartsch allows you to browse and analyze the images from anywhere you have an Internet connection…
  • The Schlesinger History of Women in America Collection contains about 36,000 photographs from the Harvard’s Schlesinger Library. These photographs document women’s work in a variety of areas such as domestic service, factories, nursing, agriculture, etc., as well women who played key roles in the women’s suffrage and women’s rights movements. This collection offers a uniquely documented view of women’s history and experience.

ARTstor is available from the library homepage under the Database Finder and the E-Books and Texts links. As you can see, ARTstor is not just for artists and art historians anymore. Regardless of your area of expertise, there is almost certainly something in ARTstor for you!

Janet Clarke

Janet Clarke

Associate Dean, Research & User Engagement at Stony Brook University Libraries
Janet Clarke
Posted in Art, Databases