Visual Resources Update September 2022

Visual Resources Update September 2022

Welcome back!

Dr. Leigh Lieberman started in August as our Digital Project Specialist. In this capacity, she’s designing programs around, consulting on, and supporting data management strategies, digital scholarship, and computational methods for art historical and archaeological research. She would love to meet with staff, faculty, and students in the department and beyond to discuss ideas related to these areas. To set up a meeting with Leigh, please email her (


Yichin Chen attended the Digital Humanities 2022 conference this summer. One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Tarin Clanuwat from Google Brain developed an app (Miwo) for AI Kuzushiji recognition. The app can transcribe text from images users upload. The goal is to help the general public to understand Kuzushiji, or “deformed characters,” and gain access to Japanese historical archives. Link here.

A book of abstracts from the conference can be found here.

Attendees of a formal dinner watch a video screen presentation while eating.
Attendees at the opening reception of Ark of Orthodoxy exhibition at the Maliotis Cultural Center of the Hellenic College of the Holy Cross, Brookline, Ma.

On September 13, 2022 Visual Resources director Julia Gearhart and Maria Alessia Rossi, Research Specialist at the Index of Medieval Art, presented at the opening reception for an exhibition at the Hellenic College of the Holy Cross in Brookline, MA titled “Ark of Orthodoxy” on the cultural significance of Mt. Athos. They spoke about the collection found by VR in 2017 that includes a film, lantern slides, and prints of a 1929 expedition to Mt. Athos. Feel free to reach out to Visual Resources if you are interested in learning more about this unusual and unpublished collection.

Howard Crosby Butler Memorial Lecture Monday October 3, 2022

Please save the date for the Howard Crosby Butler memorial lecture!

A vertical rectangular black and white photo of two ionic columns is in the center middle of the poster design, faint reddish pattern behind it.
For webinar registration, please click here.

The Stairwell Lantern Slide

The wall cling on the left stairway in Green Hall is an installation introducing visitors to our glass lantern slide collection. We resized and collaged the image of the slide for maximum effect in the space. To learn more about the glass lantern slides, please visit VR at 2-N-7 in Green Hall or go to

Two men, one on a ladder, installing a wall decal on a stairway landing.
Installation of vinyl decal of lantern slide by VinylBomb staff in Green Hall North.

VR is always searching for new resources to better store, preserve, and exhibit our collections. This being the first time we built a website from scratch, we chose Collection Builder for the Magic Lantern website because it’s free of charge, sustainable, highly customizable, and visually appealing for online exhibitions. The Magic Lantern exhibition contains a manageable number of images and data so it was a perfect project to try out a new medium. Collection Builder is an open resource framework that uses the static site generator Jekyll to develop digital collections from metadata spreadsheets and digital media. Collection Builder uses 4 components: Jekyll, Git (managed by GitHub), a text editor (in our case Visual Studio Code), and Ruby. Some of the challenges we faced were learning new web development terminologies and tools, and using computer languages to customize the website. But we managed to build the website step by step and with a little support from the Collection Builder team.

Interesting Resources

How to do things with data: Creative re-use of SMK’s digitized collection.

The Missing Chapter project: drawing together a body of photographic portraiture to highlight diverse ‘black presences’ prior to 1948, especially in Victorian and early Edwardian Britain.

Vienna’s Albertina Museum has released 150,000+ collection images into the public domain.

Visual Resources Update May 2022

Visual Resources Update May 2022

Elongated brass cross hanging in doorway
The Moses Cross at the Monastery of Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai. Image Courtesy the Michigan-Princeton-Alexandria Expeditions to Mount Sinai.

Visual Resources is the recipient of a co-sponsorship grant from the Princeton University Humanities Council, which will combine with funding from Tufts University to support enhancements to the Sinai Archive project ( The 6-month grant will fund graduate student work in content creation and metadata improvements as well as developer work to improve site accessibility and search features.

Ancient building with marble columns of female figures and a woman reaching up to the shoulder of one.
Label reads: Erechtheion. Caryatid Porch w. Mrs. Andrews [?]. Could possibly be wife of Eugene P. Andrews (1866-1957), Prof. of Archaeology, Cornell University
Thanks to student workers Jaylyn Murillo and Fariha Shoily, and A&A graduate student Katy Knortz, the digitization of lantern slides of archaeological sites in Greece is about 1/3 of the way done. We have 1500 slides captured and will be collaborating with the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies to verify image information and publish online.

Upcoming VR summer projects include:

  • Re-boxing and wrapping photographic negatives for storage in our new freezers that provide improved temperature and humidity control.
  • Senior Staff Photographer John Blazejewski is photographing oversized drawings and plans from the Antioch excavation archives to support the team working on publishing the excavation results of the nearby city of Daphne.

Interesting projects and resources:

The National Gallery of Art created a Wordle-type game for art, try it here.

Koç University Digital Collections has a fascinating exhibition online called “Touching the Past: What Do the Istanbul City Walls Photographs of Cahide Tamer Tell Us?”

KU Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) has digitized and made full text searchable their collection of incunabula.

For those using Zotero, Rachael Berryman (PhD Candidate, Curtin University, Perth) has made an informative guide available.

See you back in August in preparation for the fall semester!

Visual Resources Update April 2022

Visual Resources Update April 2022

native american man with hand to chin, looking left
Gertrude Käsebier, [Native American man], platinum print, ca. 1899. Amon Carter Museum.
Prof. Martha Sandweiss in the Department of History recently donated her 35mm slide collection to VR. We are currently sorting through the contents, including works from the Amon Carter Museum, which Sandweiss collected as an historian of the American West. This subject area is an exciting addition to the general image collection. If anyone is interested in looking through the slides, please stop by 2N7/8 or contact

Black and white skyline of Baltimore

VR took part in the annual Visual Resources Association conference, attending talks on accessibility support in digital collections, digital visualization tools in the humanities, and the very analog role visual resource centers are playing in providing object collections in support of art history courses.

Interesting resources and projects:

The Getty Museum has launched a major update to its collection pages: which includes new features such as a CCO API. What is that? It is a way to directly query the full collection programmatically. Thankfully, they have also offered three tutorials to explain how to use the API, what Linked Art is all about, and how to build your own visual analysis of linked cultural heritage records.

Photographic archives: lists in script, boxes, black and white photographic prints

Archival Practices in the Photothek: An Online Exhibition of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

As the exhibition lays out in its introductory paragraph: “Archives are no temples of memory where documents of the past are simply preserved. They are rather places where documents are produced, transformed, and reconfigured to be passed on to future generations, as well as to find new uses for them.” Explore a fundamental art historical collection through this fascinating exhibit.

Pink sunrise across an ocean with large rock formations in the foreground

Open Copyright Education Advisory Network (OCEAN) is a new initiative to address cultural heritage professionals’ need for up-to-date, reliable copyright education.

A new article examining archaeological archives is especially pertinent to those working on the Antioch excavation archive. In it, Chloë Ward writes: “Looking at the different contexts of an excavation archive, from before its creation to its ongoing curation and use, can reveal significant aspects not just of the history of archaeology but also on many of the ongoing recording methods and processes still used in the field today.”

See: Ward, C. (2022). Excavating the Archive / Archiving the Excavation: Archival Processes and Contexts in Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 1-17. doi:10.1017/aap.2022.1

Visual Resources Update March 2022

Sherds have arrived!

Very recently transferred back to Princeton from the Walters Art Museum, an extensive variety of pottery sherds from the Excavation of Antioch-on-the-Orontes is now available for use as a teaching collection. Thanks to Profs. Arrington and Blessing for their insights on arrangement and identification.

Four pieces of stone: Green marble from Thessaly, Red marble, Onyx, Porphyry
Four pieces of stone: Onyx, Green marble from Thessaly, Red marble, Porphyry

Our marble and stone collection was available for students to examine in HIS 210 The World of Late Antiquity (Prof. Jack Tannous). Students handled four of the ten types of marble used in the construction and decoration of the Hagia Sophia. Thanks to Prof. Holzman for making this identification and sharing it with others on campus.

We are excited to be supporting innovative utilization of the iiif image standard in ART 483. Students are testing Storiiies and and we look forward to seeing their final projects.

After working with us since his first year at Princeton, we are sad to see Jacob Wheeler ’20 leave, but thrilled to support his next venture as Digitization Specialist at the University of Chicago.

Interesting projects and resources:

Library of Congress Labs’ Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud (CCHC) initiative explores pathways for the Library to deliver its digital collections at scale, using a cloud computing environment. Read this post describing the outcomes of their work so far. Of particular interest to VR is using computer vision to analyze photography collections. Click here to see the interactive visualization component of the project on Access and Discovery of Documentary Images (ADDI).

Results of the DH Awards are now posted. Lots of interesting resources.

If you have been on the fence about trying the reference manager Zotero, check out version 6 with new functionality and a Zotero app for iOS.

Screenshot of Parthenon digital exhibiton: opaque model of temple with yellow section, the south frieze, highlighted
Screenshot of The Parthenon frieze website

The world famous Parthenon frieze is available online for everyone to explore in a new, interactive, bilingual, web application.

Learn about how Artificial Intelligence is being used to analyze Greek inscriptions in the journal Nature.

And finally, this eye-opening post about the ever-frustrating sphere of image rights:

Screenshot of tweet showing Getty Images is charging for a free public domain image

Visual Resources Update February 2022

Visual Resources Update February 2022

Students around a conference table looking at a artwork projected on the wall and on a large monitor

VR was happy to take part in Lucy Partman’s (Ph.D., 2021) ART106 Looking Lab: Experiments in Visual Thinking and Thinking about Visuals course on February 10. Yichin Chen provided glass lantern slide and 35mm slide projection as well as a demonstration of a stereoscope using cards from the department collections.

Two men and one seated woman looking at large maps underneath plastic on a table

Visual Resources delivered three large handmade maps to the Maps and Geospatial Information Center in the Fine Hall Wing of Lewis Library, where GIS librarian Wangyal Shawa and his team have generously offered to scan the maps and help us georeference them. The maps are from the Howard Crosby Butler Expeditions to Syria (1899, 1904/5 and 1909). The GIS center will publish the maps on their platform, allowing them to be discoverable and usable on platforms like StoryMaps.

Banner for NYCDH week virtual conference, with NYC skyline in background

Yichin Chen participated in 2022 NYC Digital Humanities Week. Workshops of note were an introduction to Manifold, an open-source publishing platform that allows researchers to publish their scholarly works and get feedback through annotations and reading groups. This platform is suitable for text-heavy projects that can benefit from community discussion. And a workshop introducing Python, which could help us sort and clean messy data: some of the most popular uses of this programming language are for data analysis and automating repetitive tasks.

Interesting projects and resources:

Black and white engraving with tools, examples of different kinds of engravings
Screenshot of Kim Albrecht’s Watching Machines Loving Grace

For innovative arts and humanities projects out of Harvard, check out metaLAB’s recent series.

The Bibliothèque du Château de Chantilly has uploaded whole manuscript of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, freely available, in unprecedented image quality.

Black text on left side of bark paper, figures on right perpendicular to writing.
Batak manuscript, orientation presented for reading but illustrations are perpendicular to the writing. British Library, MS 19382, f. 11r

Read a fascinating blog post about the unique technical challenges of digitizing the Batak manuscripts at the British Library.


Visual Resources Update January 2022

Visual Resources Update January 2022

Bottom half of a manuscript page, with a naked man and woman in a forest with two snakes
Sinai Codex 1187 folio 5v: The serpent tempts Adam and Eve

Visual Resources has been helping faculty obtain images and permissions for their forthcoming publications. This semester we are utilizing the new Michigan/Princeton collection to identify images for what will no doubt be a valuable resource: a book on the icon, edited by Prof. Charlie Barber.

If you are a professor, graduate student or undergrad with a digital project idea, or questions about digital skills or platforms, let us know ( We would like to know what the department is interested in exploring and producing.

Interesting projects, resources:

Screenshot of interactive map of Rio de Janeiro with archival map transposed.
A screenshot of Imagine Rio

Imagine Rio is a searchable digital atlas that illustrates the social and urban evolution of Rio de Janeiro, as it existed and as it was imagined. Views of the city created by artists, maps by cartographers, and site plans by architects or urbanists are all located in both time and space.

Thanks to support from the Kress Foundation, Smarthistory has added more than 3,000 high resolution photos of works of art and architecture for teaching and learning. Find them here.

Screenshot of detail of Rembrandt's The Night Watch, with face of bearded man at right, with white lace collar, and portion of man's face at right.
Detail, The Night Watch

The Rijksmuseum has published the largest and most detailed photo ever taken of a work of art (717 gigapixels) of The Night Watch.

Go to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s ‘Virtual CMA Dashboard‘ to view live datasets (updated daily) that answer questions like: What are the most viewed and downloaded artworks? What department of the museum garners the most online views? This is great work visualizing collections.

Screenshot of Cenobium, A Project for the Multimedia Representation of Romanesque Cloister Capitals in the Mediterranean Region
Cenobium: A Project for the Multimedia Representation of Romanesque Cloister Capitals in the Mediterranean Region

CENOBIUM is a KHI (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz) collaborative project with Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche for the multimedia representation of Romanesque cloister capitals in the Mediterranean region.

See a short blog post and explore around 400 images from one of the most successful photography studios in the Ottoman Empire, Abdullah Frères. Europeana is a wonderful aggregation portal offering access to many smaller archives and museums in Europe.


Visual Resources Update December 2021

Visual Resources Update December 2021

Chocolate busts of Metrodorus (left) and Pericles
Chocolate busts of Metrodorus (left) and Pericles.

The food-safe silicone molds were made, the chocolate tempered, the chocolate casts can now be revealed. We have learned a lot about resources on campus, 3d models, molds and casting. If you have any questions about the process, or want to see the models and results, please visit 2-N-7/8 or email

Screenshot of ART202 image viewer within Canvas, with two windows offering comparison of two vases
Screenshot of ART202 image viewer within Canvas, with two windows offering comparison of two vases

We have populated the image viewer in ART202 (Spring, 2022) with 50 objects, many with multiple images, for students to review independently of lectures. If you are interested in having course images in Canvas please contact

The new website for the Michigan-Princeton-Alexandria Expeditions to Sinai is now officially public: This digital collection is unique in its presentation because we offer the cataloguing information on the work of art itself as well as detailed cataloguing information on the images of that work. This is because:

  • the images belong to two separate institutions and they need to be contacted individually for permission to publish
  • the images were created using different kinds of film and lighting, on different years, showing very different views of the same works of art

We look forward to sharing more of the collection through this innovative platform.

Interesting projects, resources:

New digital project from the Getty Museum, MESOPOTAMIA: An intimate look at some extraordinary objects from an exhibition at the Getty Villa.

Screenshot of Harvard Baker Library South Sea Bubble digital exhibition, showing an annotated print
Screenshot of Harvard Baker Library South Sea Bubble digital exhibition, showing an annotated print

The South Sea Bubble Research Portal offers an opportunity to explore the collections of Harvard Baker Library relating to the 1720 financial crisis. Includes interactive annotations of fascinating prints.

Map of the U.S. with green dots indicating Olmsted Firm projects
Map of the U.S. with green dots indicating Olmsted Firm projects

New crowdsourcing project at the Library of Congress: the Frederick Law Olmsted papers. People interested in Olmsted may also enjoy the interactive map showing Olmsted projects across the U.S., available at

Visual Resources Update November 2021

Visual Resources Update November 2021

Having become a familiar sight in the hallway of 2-N Green Hall, the Department’s plaster casts inspired VR to begin a fun holiday project that touches on many of their daily activities. And since there is no better way to learn something than to do it, everyone decided to contribute to a process where images, permissions, and endless reproductions all meet. The subjects are the busts of Metrodorus and Pericles, and a chocolate form the final result, with the crucial intermediate steps of 3D printing and mold making. VR licensed (yes, this step is necessary!) image files from Flyover Zone, a creator of digital 3D models. Next, Yichin Chen, East Asian Cataloguer, brought the files to the StudioLab, a “creative technology space for all members of the Princeton University community,” where one can learn how to 3D print things oneself, or ask for help. Yichin chose 20% infill with an extra smooth surface and it took 13 hours to print one 10 cm-high model, with thrilling results! The next step is using food-safe silicone around the models to make molds of the busts. In December’s VR update we will describe the last step of the project: using the silicone molds to make chocolate models. Stay tuned.

Screenshot with image buttons for Icons, Manuscripts, Liturgical Objects, Architecture, Mosaics, Expedition Documents
Screenshot of collections page for new website

Jacob Wheeler has been working on the finishing touches (custom javascript, css and html) for the new Sinai archive website, which will be publicly launched at the Byzantine Studies Conference on December 11th with our colleagues at the University of Michigan. This project has been actively developed since 2015 and we are excited to finally have the structure to include all the images at Michigan and Princeton together.

Three large commercial desiccant dehumidifiers have been installed in the Green Hall basement storage rooms to help maintain the proper environment for Department collections. This is a significant improvement over the conditions of the rooms in McCormick Hall, and will help in collection preservation.

Interesting projects, resources:

Art & The Country House’: Explore the collection and display of art in eight country houses around Britain (Paul Mellon Centre)

Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds’: a virtual tour of Olympia created by Microsoft and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.

We have shared Tropy (an open source image management software) before, and if you are not familiar they have a new “getting started” YouTube video out.

The Society of Antiquaries of London collections catalogue now includes their archives and object records:

Digital Exhibition (actually, many exhibitions!): Translation is Power from the larger ‘Early Modern Translation Cultures (1450-1800)’ project.

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.