Visual Resources Update October 2021

Visual Resources Update October 2021

Many of you have probably seen the job posting for a Digital Project Specialist. Since 2015 Visual Resources has launched several digital projects. VR is increasingly serving in an advisory and exploratory role for faculty and graduate students looking to create projects online. The cataloguing experience of VR, as well as our familiarity with diverse visual material, can be a great help to projects involving images/works from any collection. It is our hope that this new appointment can leverage our knowledge in combination with their own skills to support a departmental hub for digital exhibits and projects.

Fragments of ancient pottery laid out on a black surface
Teaching collection pottery sherds from the Levant now available in Visual Resources

VR received a teaching collection of Levantine pottery sherds from the estate of A. Orley Swartentruber who obtained them from R.B.Y. Scott. Prof. Scott was an Old Testament scholar in the Department of Religion from 1955 to 1968. The collection includes pieces from locations such as Jerash and Amman. Please let us know if you would like to use this as a teaching collection, we would be happy to provide it to you or any other department on campus.

We are also making available another collection consisting of marble and stone pieces, believed to be assembled by Amanda Claridge with specimens from Richard Stillwell. The collection is currently in Prof. Holzman’s office while we arrange better storage.

Lantern Slide Projection

We were happy to provide lantern slide projection in ART207 and would like to remind everyone that we retained many lantern slides and only deaccessioned those that were either images from publications, poor quality, or of prolifically available views. Please reach out if you are looking for anything specific!


A terrific resource for historical sources from collections not always accessible through major catalogs: The ‘Decolonised’ Digital Archive

The Digital Image:  from the International Journal for Digital Art History and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), this publication “combines projects from a multiperspectival point of view and addresses the central role that the image plays in the process of the digitization of knowledge in theory and practice.”

You can now make your own online British Library Exhibit with iiif!

From the University of Edinburgh, MINDSHIFT: Confronting a colonial collection

The Butler Syria transcription project made the From the Page blog!

Visual Resources Update September 2021

Visual Resources Update September 2021

ART100 virtual gallery platform

Interior space of an empty modern white building
An example gallery template

Visual Resources is working with graduate students Samuel Shapiro and Iheanyichukwu Onwuegbucha to use a virtual gallery platform called Artsteps in Art100 this semester. Students will select artwork in or around Princeton and will work in groups to create an exhibition with a cohesive narrative. We are excited to assess the performance of this software and may continue to use it in ART100. Unfortunately, copyright concerns require the gallery to be restricted to those associated with the course.

Our new transcription project: The Syrian Expedition notebooks

Screenshot of a Butler diary in the From the Page transcription software
Screenshot of a Butler diary in the From the Page transcription software

We have launched our new crowdsourced transcription project, focused on the notebooks and diaries of the Howard Butler Crosby Syrian Expeditions Archive (1899, 1904/5, 1909). This project aims to transcribe the writings that include descriptions of people and places missing from the published volumes. We intend to publish the data as a dataset and digital collection as well as create an interactive map to tell the story of the expeditions across time and space. Each location will include the photographs, drawings and descriptions the expedition team produced at the site. This will illustrate not only the exceptional nature of these travels, but also the process of this method of archaeological surveying. It is challenging handwriting to decipher, but we already have fourteen transcribers from across the globe onboard!

Interesting projects, resources:

screenshot of introduction to Unsilencing the archive, group portrait of egyptian laborers and excavation director


Unsilencing the Archives: The Laborers of the Tell en-Nasbeh Excavations (1926-1935) is a unique and insightful online exhibition by the Bade Museum of Biblical Archaeology highlighting the work of archaeological excavators. Many of the workers at Tell en-Nasbeh also worked at the Princeton Antioch excavation.

Can artificial intelligence catalog art? In “Explain Me the Painting: Multi-Topic Knowledgeable Art Description Generation” by Zechen Bai, Yuta Nakashima, Noa Garcia (Osaka University), the authors give their take on this topic so pertinent to our time. (Given at the International Conference on Computer Vision, 2021.)

As always, please reach out if you would like help sourcing an image:

screengrab of a tweet: Spent an hour yesterday searching for a specific Leonard drawing from a primary source.

Visual Resources Update July/August 2021

Visual Resources Update July/August 2021

On July 21 the University of Notre Dame announced a new platform for online access to library and museum holdings. MARBLE, short for Museums, Archives, Rare Books and Libraries Exploration offers “an online teaching and research platform designed to make distinctive cultural heritage collections from across the University accessible through a single portal.”

Like Notre Dame, Princeton has multiple different gateways to different campus collections and would benefit from a more integrated digital ecosystem. The Princeton University Art Museum, for example, has already integrated its collections into the library catalog. What makes MARBLE possible is the iiif system, the same framework which allows VR to incorporate images directly into courses in Canvas.

The VR is currently working with Princeton University Library IT to assess the possibility of the department image collection being catalogued into the library digital collections repository for enhanced discoverability and access. The biggest hurdle to combining systems, as described in the Notre Dame article, is the difference between various collections’ cataloguing practices and terms. The VR’s work on standardizing and improving metadata consistency will help the integration with current library standards. Test batches of works and images have been promising!

See the latest announcement from Visual Resources on the A&A website here: Major New Online Resource for the Study of Ancient Antioch Launched

Interesting projects, resources:

From the British Library Endangered Archive Programme: a new photography collection documenting late 19th and early 20th Century Nepal

Kathmandu Valley, late 1800s. EAP838/1/2/5

This important and unique collection of photographs gives a fascinating insight into life in Nepal at a time when the country was under self-imposed isolation from the outside world. The photographs include portraits, diplomatic visits, landscapes, historic structures, and festivals. They capture images of urbanization, changes in the lifestyle and infrastructural transformation in Nepal. From the DirghaMan and GaneshMan Chitrakar Art Foundation photographic collection.

3D scans to accompany Troy: myth and reality exhibition, a collaboration with Sketchfab creates new digital content for ancient objects:

Stay tuned for a major project announcement from Visual Resources in September …

Visual Resources Update June 2021

Visual Resources Update June 2021

We have been busy with the move and set-up of our spaces in Green Hall, so this update will include some outside resources and projects from this past month that you may find interesting.

The annual iiif conference took place June 22-24. Of particular interest were the presentations and conversations around:

StrollView: a cross-institutional storytelling application that we have added to our list of lightweight software to possibly utilize for digital exhibitions. You can see a blank presentation here. StrollView is much like another platform, Exhibit, which debuted last year at the iiif conference. Exhibit offers a way for you to walk viewers through a single, complex, digital object. For a project involving more robust content there is another new platform, Madoc, which allows for the display, enrichment and curation of digital objects. It supports exhibitions inviting others to annotate or contribute commentary on works displayed from archives, libraries and museums.

Screenshot of the Lawrence digtial exhibition with portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Devonshire Collections, Chatsworth)

A nicely designed and curated exhibition on the life and works of Thomas Lawrence by The Holburne Museum.



Screenshot of the image viewer showing two black and white identical images on board (the stereograph)


Exploring Stereographs (a project by David Newbury).




Finally, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC made the announcement that, as of June 16, all of its images of public domain artworks are also officially CC0 (public domain) as well. Great news and we hope more museums follow suit.

Visual Resources Update May 2021

Visual Resources Update May 2021


old hand colored photograph of children playing in front of windmills with triangular sails
From the Greek Lantern Slide Digitization Project: Mykonos, windmills outside of town (GK_PH_28.19.1)

VR received a large number of image request before the pandemic, and those increased in 2020. John Blazejewski (Senior Staff Photographer and Digital Imaging Specialist) primarily captured images from the Weitzmann/Sinai collection and the Antioch and Morgantina excavations and continued to edit images for the various digital projects VR has in process, such as the Greek Lantern Slide Digitization Project. In September of 2020, John returned to his studio in McCormick Hall for a few hours a week where he photographed, scanned, and edited original material (most from Marquand) for publications for a number of A&A faculty, other faculty and research scholars, and the VR.  He also (virtually) met with and advised graduate students regarding camera purchases, use, and software. We were unable to celebrate John’s (30 year!) work anniversary in 2020 but hopefully we can remedy that in the future.


Piece of pottery, cream, green and yellow glazed, with handwritten numbers on the edge
One sherd from a collection of two boxes sent to Alfred R. Bellinger at Yale in 1947 for a course taught by Henry Immerwahr. Information from these collections is being integrated into the Antioch excavation database.

A recent meeting of scholars currently working and publishing Antioch explored one of the most frustrating aspects of the excavation: that the material has been ‘atomized’ (as Asa Eger, Associate Professor, UNC Greensboro describes it) across the globe. For example, Prof. Alan Stahl located a notebook by Clarence Fisher from the very beginning of the excavation, unknown to those studying Antioch, held at ASOR, Boston. From reviewing archival correspondence, Julia Gearhart has recently located teaching collections of pottery at Yale, Bryn Mawr, and the Walters Museum in Baltimore. Teaching collections have also been tracked to Wellesley College and the University of Cincinnati but these have not been located. Three gifts of sculpture to individuals are also being sought as is the provenance of an Antioch mosaic currently for sale in NYC. Most people are familiar with the mosaics in museums, but there is considerably more than that: the story of the Antioch excavation continues…


Plans are underway for the next exhibition, which will be somewhere in Green Hall (to be determined over the summer). However, if anyone would like to consider incorporating an exhibition into their fall or spring course we would be happy to assist. Likewise, if you would like to incorporate specific images into the image viewer on your course page in Canvas we would be happy to help with that as well. Please email Julia Gearhart if interested.


Screenshot from a virtual museum tour; painting on left, wall label on right
Screenshot of the virtual National Gallery tour

National Gallery virtual exhibiton (‘The Director’s Choice’)

A special exhibit at the Oriental Institute: 19th century photographs of Iran by Antoin Sevruguin

An interesting copyright issue concerning public sculpture: Romanian politician gears up to sue Brancusi’s heir over longstanding copyright battle

Visual Resources Update April 2021

Visual Resources Update April 2021


Black and white image of the Genesis
Smyrna, Evangelical School A.1. fol. 2v

Justin Willson, Postgraduate Research Associate in medieval art, recently asked us for a quality image of Smyrna, Evangelical School A.1, fol. 2v, the Creation. Since the actual manuscript was destroyed by fire in 1922 he was hoping for a better quality image than what he could obtain from existing publications. Some images can be found online, but those of folio 2v are quite poor. Lo and behold, there is an envelope of photographic prints of this manuscript in the VR Weitzmann image collection. On the back of each print is a stamp with the name Paul Buberl, an Austrian art historian. From the stamp it is unclear whether Buberl took the photograph, or whether it was simply in his collection or produced by him and given to Weitzmann. Regardless, the quality of all the prints is quite good, so John Blazejewski photographed and edited the print to produce a quality image.

The move out of McCormick Hall has required the reorganization of VR collections which have filled all corners of the second floor. In one of the less accessible storage rooms a handful of large images of architecture on old particle board were leaning in between the cabinets of oversized mounted prints. On the back of each is a sticker from the Museum of Modern Art. We have not completed the research, but we believe these are associated with the 1932 MoMA exhibition on Modern Architecture.

Of note: this recent NY Times article, addressing the living situations in which many Syrian refugees currently find themselves, with ancient sites once again providing shelter. As the VR Butler Syria Location Concordance Project continues, here is a view of a private house at Deir Amman from Howard Crosby Butler’s 1905 expedition, and again today, with a little girl looking out from her family’s encampment (photograph by Ivor Prickett). Through the online publication of Butler’s photographs and journals we hope to shed some light on these sites, some of which have been changed by war, others which have very much stayed the same.



  • Explore the extensive digitization efforts of the Louvre.
  • Wildenstein Plattner Institute offers an online archives/auctions viewer.
  • Have you heard of fingernail art?
  • Update to Zotero: fantastic built-in PDF reader with many annotation features; better notes; a new tabbed interface so you can have multiple items open at the same time; full support for embedded images. Also, iOS app is coming soon and Princeton is now offering free unlimited storage!


Visual Resources Update March 2021

Visual Resources Update March 2021


Green and black hardbound books on a wooden shelf, The Dictionary of Art

In preparation for the upcoming move to Green Hall, VR continues to sort, pack and weed materials. The multi-volume Grove Dictionary of Art and other art reference books used in Visual Resources found a new home on 3/25 at Trenton Central High School as a lending library to students taking part in Princeton ArcPrep. ArcPrep is a program developed in part by the Princeton School of Architecture to introduce teens to the discipline of architecture, a field which sorely lacks diversity.

VR is also working on cleanup and reconciliation of past cataloging data. In honor of Women’s History Month, here is a visualization of the nationalities of women creators currently represented in our database, with bright yellow indicating the largest concentration of artists in our records. Our data examination involves looking at underrepresented creators, countries, works, etc. and planning additions to our collection that expand representation. We are also considering cataloging terminology that is no longer useful, with an eye to improving accuracy and discoverability.

Number of women artists in A&A image collection, mapped
Data visualization by Michele.


Harvard Art Museum Logo

Jacob attended the Harvard Art Museums lecture: “Troubling Images: Curating Collections of Historical Photographs” which discussed the analysis and presentation of photography involving troubling images of slavery and violence against indigenous peoples and communities of color. Mark Sealy of the University of the Arts London, Makeda Best of Harvard Art Museums, and Ilisa Barbash of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, presented.

VR staff (Julia, Yichin and Michele) attended the remote Visual Resources Association conference March 22-26, taking part in sessions covering: data reconciliation, improving metadata workflows, intellectual property rights, and building innovative digital projects, among others.


The word HOPE in rainbow with Radical Hope, Critical Change underneath

  • We encourage everyone to explore the Pitt Rivers Museum: Radical Hope, Critical Change series of events as they tackle “decolonizing” the museum. The events will focus on how Western museums have relied on colonial ideas that have erased the many ways of knowing and being of people from around the world in favour of promoting one viewpoint. The series will consider how museums can change to support humanity, our relationships to each other, to the environment and to things.”




  • Do you have trouble keeping track of your images? Check out Tropy, a “free open-source software that allows you to organize and describe photographs of research material.” Here is a webinar for graduate students (we recommend starting at the 12:00 mark if you just want the nitty-gritty). VR has requested an art-centered webinar from Tropy and it is coming!


Visual Resources Update February 2021

Visual Resources Update February 2021


Screenshot of many images of the same Byzantine icon within a dark rectangle (image viewer).
Screenshot of the new Sinai icon collection website.

Visual Resources is finalizing the new Sinai Archive website, which will replace  and includes all the images of the icons from the University of Michigan and Princeton together at last.

It is being used in classes this spring at Princeton with ART310 ‘The Icon’ taught by Justin Willson and at Michigan with HISTART 394-002  ‘Saints in Medieval Art’ by Paroma Pratterjee. We are not unveiling it publicly yet (that will be at the Byzantine Conference in October) but if anyone is interested in seeing it, we are sharing the link and would like feedback. We believe it to be the first use of IIIF and an image viewer to present single works with images from different collections and with different canvas-level information.



Sepia tone photograph of two people standing in a ruin
Tell Akibrin

In an effort to make all of Howard Crosby Butler’s Syria Expedition archive (all notebooks and drawings) available online in an interactive map, VR is working with Butler’s own site data, and establishing concordance with other sources to determine geographic coordinates. We started this work in May 2020 with the assistance of TCNJ students, continued with the help of Princeton students over the summer, and Michele Mazeris is nearing the end of this phase of edits. The data will soon move to area specialists (including Dr. Ross Burns, former Australian Ambassador to Syria and Lebanon, who has kindly made his extensive site data available) before being published online via OpenContext.


Coin cast
Coin cast from Morgantina excavation.

While Visual Resources staff has had limited access to McCormick, efforts have been made this month to digitize large portions of the Morgantina archive’s photographic contact sheets in order to assist researchers in selecting desired negatives for higher quality scans. Professor Ingrid Edlund-Berry of UT Austin and Professor Malcolm Bell of UVA have benefited from this workflow, led by Jacob Wheeler. New photography by John Blazejewski of coin casts in the collection was also produced for Professor Bell.


Ultra close image of paint texture on paintingPAINTINGS ARE NOT FLAT

The V&A launches Explore the Collections, a newly redesigned search and discovery collection interface.

Kress Foundation launches a new IIIF site. This means Visual Resources can put these images directly into the image viewer in Canvas! They’ve also launched the Kress Collection Digital Archive which documents the history, acquisition, condition and care of the more than 3,000 works of art in the collection.

Detail of Bayeux tapestry, soldier with head chopped off Explore the entire Bayeux Tapestry online in amazing resolution!


Visual Resources Update January 2021

Visual Resources Update January 2021

At the request of the VRC Committee (which met at the beginning of December), Visual Resources will provide a monthly email describing new and
ongoing work, this being the first.

If you are interested in utilizing the Image Viewer for your course in Canvas in the spring, please email so we can set that up for you. There are many options for how the images are put together in the viewer, and you are welcome to use your own photographs.



The VR held a successful copyright workshop for graduate students on Nov. 6 which featured presentations by VR staff, Hannah Yohalem (Ed. for ARTMargins), Lucy Partman and Wes Markham from PU General Counsel.

Faculty publication permissions: we now have two forms, one for general inquires (geared towards graduate students) and one for faculty on our website.

For those feeling adventurous, here’s a video tutorial (in our Sharepoint sub-site) of a little work-around that may help you obtain larger images online. You may have seen this in the department meeting.

The existing Antioch website spurred the identification of a collection of Antioch sherds at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, something no one knew! We knew Harvard had some sherds, and Cornell, but this teaching collection was a mystery to them. This discovery shows how getting the information out there can have a very meaningful impact both for the holding repository and for us because their collection contains material from sector 17-O, the focus of the first volume of the new Antiochene Series to be published by Brepols.

Pottery with item number label in box

2020 was a busy year for publication requests of department archival holdings, as usual the most popular collection is the Sinai expedition photographs and the rest of the Weitzmann archive.

Interesting projects, new resources:

A Digital Project Handbook: from the Wired! Lab (Digital Art History &
Visual Culture) at Duke

12 Sunsets: Exploring Ed Ruscha’s Archive.
Explore Sunset Boulevard throughout 60 years as photographed by LA
photographer Ed Ruscha and archived by the Getty
Made possible with IIIF

Tropy for Graduate Students webinar
How to use the open source image management platform on your

New Resources (February)

What do we think about Yale scrapping their art history survey course? Is that even what this article describes?

A great article celebrating the open access policy at Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, and, from the National Museum of American History, a lovely example of a museum resisting the call for perfection before publishing collection records.

A really interesting resource of historical photography of China, put together by the University of Bristol:

Eagerly awaiting the digital publication related to the upcoming exhibition: Exquisite Patterns: Japanese Textile Design, at the British Library.

Front cover of Ayanishiki / [henshūsha Nishijin Orimonokan] digitized by the British Library
Ayanishiki / [henshūsha Nishijin Orimonokan], (Kyōto: Unsōdō, [Taishō 7 [1918])
The Art Institute of Chicago wrote a piece about how to search their fantastic new online collection:

Like the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, and the Finnish National Gallery, the searching, faceting and presentation of these collections is really changing!

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which has led them (Watson Library and the Museum Archives) to digitize the records of Francis Henry Taylor, the 5th director of the museum from 1940-1955. These records make for fascinating reading, especially those concerned with the wartime safety of artworks.