VR’s Digital Project Specialist Leigh Lieberman serves as a principal investigator for Disciplinary Improvements for Past Global Change Research: Connecting Data Systems and Practitioners, a Research Coordination Network funded by the National Science Foundation. In this capacity, Leigh recently helped to facilitate the group’s first symposium, held in mid-May at Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. This symposium allowed Leigh and her colleagues to promote dialogue among representatives across a variety of disciplines and begin to develop communities of practice around issues concerning the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance (Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility, and Ethics) and the FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse). On the heels of this inspiring program, she’s eager to apply some of the lessons she’s learned, especially around the ethics of working with data that concerns community stakeholders and sovereign rights holders, to her work in A&A.
Mount Athos Center Exhibition
We are very excited to have a small number of items from our collections in an exhibition at the Mount Athos Center, in Thessaloniki, Greece. If you happen to be in Thessaloniki this summer, do go check it out.
Summer plans: more of the same
Every summer we host some visiting scholars, and this summer will be no different. We already enjoyed assisting Andrea Nalesso (Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia) May 22 and 23 in his research on G.E. Kidder Smith. Up next will be a scholar for our Antioch sherd collection, then one for the Weitzmann Sinai collection, then another for Antioch, then a visitor for Morgantina. And that is just the schedule for June. This summer we have a couple of long-term digital and physical projects to accomplish, but we will also continue to provide access to the archives for researchers and can help with any questions (data management, image copyright, etc), so please reach out if you would like our help.
Interesting projects and resources:
Check out the iiif-powered digital experience “Closer to Johannes Vermeer”, which has won two Webby awards. The immersive experience transports visitors into the Vermeer’s world through all 28 Vermeer paintings in the Rijksmuseum exhibition plus the nine additional works attributed to the artist.
Several project partners in Gotha, Germany have launched a new online portal, GOTHA.digital, which brings together digital objects and data from five institutions and allows for easier research.
Explore the King’s Chamber Prototype, an experimental viewer from the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures at the University of Chicago and the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo. The prototype’s experimental viewer provides a platform for presenting contextual geospatial relationships (in 3D) and the examination of their surface details (in 2D). The current project allows viewers to explore the King’s Chamber, one of six rooms in the Inner Sanctuaries of the 18th Dynasty (Small Amun) Temple at Medinet Habu on the west bank of Luxor, Egypt.
The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and Visual Resources are working together to make high-quality images available for Princeton courses directly within the university learning management system, Canvas. By utilizing the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), a set of open standards for the delivery of high-quality images and associated metadata, students can review zoom-able works of art individually, outside of the lecture sequence. These same images can also be used with several iiif-enabled external tools, supporting digital storytelling assignments in which students illustrate their writing with course images or images from universities, libraries, archives, and museums around the world. Read more about the potential of this technology here and set up a time to discuss the use in your course by emailing email@example.com.
1929 Mount Athos Film to be preserved
On April 14, Julia Gearhart, Director of Visual Resources, drove the surviving nitrate film reels from the 1929 Expedition to Mount Athos to The Celeste Bartos International Film Study Center in Pennsylvania. There, the staff of MoMA’s Film Department were kind enough to help ship the film to the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) in Santa Clarita, California where they will join the PHI Stoa Film Archive, a highly secure nitrate storage vault facility managed by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Visual Resources is tremendously grateful to the PHI for their help in agreeing to inspect, potentially re-scan, and house the film, as well as that of MoMA, for facilitating its transport to California.
Kidder Smith’s career honored
In 1938, when George Everard Kidder Smith (1913-1997), was still a graduate student at Princeton in the School of Architecture, he joined the excavation of Antioch-on-the-Orontes as photographer. He went on to become a very successful architectural photographer, among other things, and has now been recognized with his own monograph and in three 2022 exhibitions. Curator Andrea Nalesso will be visiting the archives of Visual Resources in May 2023 to learn more about Kidder Smith’s first professional work with the Antioch excavation.
Glaze is a tool developed at the University of Chicago to protect artists against AI art mimicry. Glaze analyzes your art and generates a modified version. This “cloaked” image disrupts the AI mimicry process.
Howard Crosby Butler archive featured in the classroom for ART 102
Visual Resources was delighted to be part of ART 102, Introduction to the History of Architecture, taught by Profs. Holzman and Yerkes. Prof. Holzman designed precepts around the Howard Crosby Butler archive, specifically the materials concerned with Qasr al-Abd, an archaeological ruin in Iraq Al-Amir, Jordan that Butler visited multiple times. With 16 (!) precepts the week of March 6, it was a busy time and ultimately a wonderful experience to be able to share these primary resources directly with students.
Visiting Scholar Ezgi Erol and her thoughts on the Excavation of Antioch-on-the-Orontes
VR Director Julia Gearhart interviews Ezgi Erol, researching in the archives from February – May 2023
I am an interdisciplinary scholar with a background in fine arts, sociology, and cultural studies. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and hold a position in the department of Transcultural Studies at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. What brings you to Princeton?
Art and Antioch. I am interested in finding out what materials you have in your archive about Antioch. Specifically, I am researching excavations in Antioch on the Orontes, which were led by Princeton University between 1932 and 1939. I am exploring one of the excavated houses with floor mosaics, and their dispersion among the three countries they were shipped to. My research involves pre-structured fieldwork, which means visiting archives, documenting the artworks from this house that have been exhibited in North American museums, the Louvre, and the Hatay Archaeology Museum, as well as examining the interaction between contemporary researchers and institutions. I am grateful to the institutions that have made this research possible, such as the grants from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research Austria and the Austrian Research Association (ÖFG), as well as the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna. How are you finding Princeton? Anything surprising to you?
Well, there are many things that surprise me and make me even more curious about the excavation-related relationships between museums and university scholars, the economic basis of these excavations, and the unknown workers involved. I am especially interested in discovering latent structures within the archives, whether it be a sentence, a drawing, or a detail in a photograph. I am excited to see what kind of narrative about Antakya and the Alexandrette region will emerge after I have gathered and analyzed the material from all the archives I have access to. I understand you are not an archaeologist, what value do these archives have to you, what value might they have to other disciplines?
As a sociologist working in the field of art theory and cultural studies, the archives provide a valuable source for analyzing the categorization and interpretation of the finds and artworks. As an artist, I am interested in the materiality of the mosaic pavements and their contemporary historical reappraisal. While my previous work focused on contemporary art, I am now drawn to the ancient art metropolis of Antioch where late antique artworks and contemporary reception meet. This tension reveals much about the historiography of Antioch and the Alexandrette region, especially considering recent natural disasters that have become part of its history.
Regarding the value of archeological archives for other disciplines, the archive can provide an important source for interdisciplinary research and critical reflection on the role of archaeology within broader socio-political contexts. Is there anything you think we (Visual Resources) should consider as we improve how these records are displayed online?
As someone who is not an archivist, I can’t speak too much to the technical aspects of the archive. However, providing open access to the archives is a way of decentralizing knowledge and democratizing information, which can greatly benefit researchers who cannot physically visit.
In my experience with the Art and Archaeology department at PU, I have found that engaging with contemporary critical discourses on the archive’s homepage would be greatly beneficial. It is important to reflect critically on the excavation at Antioch, which was conducted during the period of the French mandate in the Alexandrette region. The mandate regime itself was a colonial construct. Including critical reflections on this excavation and questioning the role of archaeologists in their field should be an integral part of the visual resources’ online presence. This can lead to a more nuanced understanding of the excavation and its impact on the cultural heritage of the region. Is there anything you think the Princeton University Art Museum should consider as they design how artifacts from the excavation are displayed in the new museum?
Museums play a crucial role in shaping the social and cultural memory of a society, working in tandem with other cultural and political institutions. As such, they carry a significant social responsibility in negotiating and constructing the future visions of society. Therefore, the question is what kind of society we want to live in and who has the power to decide it. In almost every museum, we have a diversity program on the table. Do we have it in decision-making as well?
In curating and displaying cultural artifacts and artworks, museums have the potential to serve as catalysts for social change and progress. With regard to the Antioch artworks such as the mosaics, it’s important to acknowledge that they have been removed from their original context and have been fragmented. The museum should address this issue and make its art history narrative reflect the excavation story. They should also prioritize making their archives accessible to researchers, and providing educational programs for children and young people that contextualize the artworks.
Penn State finds Morgantina excavation specimens
In February, VR Director Julia Gearhart and Digital Project Specialist Leigh Lieberman were put in touch with Patti Wood Finkle, the new collections manager at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at Penn State University. Finkle had stumbled upon a mystery box of samples that had been shipped to Penn State from the Princeton Expedition to Sicily in 1959 and she was eager to get them back where they belonged. It didn’t take long for Gearhart and Lieberman to realize that the box contained samples collected at Morgantina, the focus of the Princeton Expedition to Sicily and a project initiated by A&A Profs. Erik Sjökvist and Richard Stillwell in 1955. Lieberman was able to retrieve the samples from Finkle in March. While she was able to connect them to a brief reference in Sjökvist’s preliminary report from the 1959 campaign (where he mentions that the samples were taken to “be analyzed with regard to the possible presence of pollen, in the hope of acquiring useful information on the forestation in ancient times. The same purpose will be served by the samples of half-burnt and carbonized wood, gathered from the remains of funeral pyres, incendiary strata and the like”), there is more work to be done to analyze and contextualize the samples.
Interesting Projects and Resources
Leonardo//Thek@-Codex Atlanticus is an innovative digital repository that provides access to images and transcriptions of the nearly 1200 pages of the Codex Atlanticus, and to the results of over two centuries of scholarly work on this resource. The repository constitutes an indispensable means for exploring the vast and chaotic ocean of data stored within the Codex.
The Visual Resources image collection in Artstor (close to 245,000 images) is now also available via JSTOR, in the ‘Princeton Art and Archaeology’ collection. On August 1, 2024, the Artstor website will retire and all users will be redirected to JSTOR, the digital library platform you may know for access to academic articles. Some components will be slightly different (for instance, instead of ‘Image Groups’ there will be ‘Workspaces’), but there will be additional functionality as well. Your existing Artstor login credentials will work in JSTOR. If you are an active user of Artstor and have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us. Artstor/JSTOR also provides online resources about the change.
VR is always interested in learning new tools (especially open access ones) to organize and publish our data. In our September 2022 post, we shared how Yichin used an open source exhibition framework called CollectionBuilder to build a simple, static, and FREE digital exhibition on our lantern slides. This tool was also recently used by Princeton University Library and the Princeton Geniza Lab to create a wonderful exhibition titled “The Coins of the Cairo Geniza.”
More recently, Yichin attended the 2023 Wintersession Python workshop to help with future website development and database cleaning. For those unfamiliar with Python, below is a simple example of the language in practice. If there is a long list of paintings and artists and we want to know how many paintings were painted by the same artist, we can use the following code to generate the counts.
The Vocabularies of Cultural Heritage
Visual Resources staff attended the virtual symposium “Terms of Art: Design, Description and Discovery in Cataloging” hosted by the Hood Museum of Art and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth University. It was a great opportunity to learn from similar small organizations undertaking big transformations in how they describe and share their collections. One particularly interesting workshop called “Alt Text Power Hour” was run by representatives of the Block Museum at Northwestern University. Alt text can be challenging to begin with, describing a work of art in 100 words can seem downright impossible.
Interesting projects and resources
In the process of digitizing the glass lantern slide collection Visual Resources looks to other similar projects for best practices. Dr. Inbal Livne, Curator at the University of Manchester Library, has written a helpful post discussing inclusive cataloguing of the Manchester Geographic Society lantern slide collection, making us think about historic terminology and its place in our cataloguing systems.
Mmmonk stands for Medieval Monastic Manuscripts – Open – Network – Knowledge. It is a collaborative project between Bruges Public Library, Ghent University Library, Major Seminary Ten Duinen in Bruges and Ghent Diocese. Through the website you can discover the collections of these repositories via themes, virtual tours, videos and in-dept editorials. The project is funded by the Flemish Government (Department Culture, Youth and Media).
A new blog post from the Royal Asiatic Society highlights digitization of photos from Tibet and Iran by their volunteer Evgenia North, and includes the surprising discovery of photos by Antoin Sevruguin.
Visual Resources is pleased to provide high quality images from the Albert Sheldon Pennoyer Collection for use in a permanent exhibition at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. The collection is unique in that many of the operation’s principal officers are both captured and identified by Pennoyer in a series of portraits that comprise one of six photo albums. The Monuments Men and Women Foundation in Dallas, Texas is helping mount the New Orleans exhibition, and we look forward to a future visit to see this department collection displayed for the public.
Wintersession workshops: mosaics and GLAM data
VR facilitated two wintersession workshops on January 17 and 18: one on mosaics and another on data visualization of museum collection information (specifically, that of the Princeton University Art Museum). We would like to thank our collaborators: Katy Knortz and Bart Devolder for the mosaic session. Katy provided an overview of the history of mosaics and their construction in antiquity and Bart showed the challenges of removing the Antioch mosaics embedded in the University Museum walls, an awe-inspiring task. More thanks go to Carolina Roe-Raymond (Data Visualization Analyst, Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering), Matt Chandler (Research Data Services Manager, Princeton University Library) and Frances Lloyd-Baynes (Manager, Art Information, Princeton University Art Museum) who walked participants through museum collection data structures, and how to clean and visualize the information within. We intend to offer more workshops on working with data, so please let us know what you would like!
Dr. Leigh Lieberman at AIASCS
Leigh organized a workshop sponsored by the Forum for Classics, Libraries, and Scholarly Communication (the FCLSC) for the joint annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies this January in New Orleans, Louisiana. The workshop, entitled Supporting Open Data: Challenges and Potential Opportunities, brought together developers, librarians, researchers, and instructors to discuss how our institutions can begin the long and expensive process of adapting infrastructures to not just accommodate but promote open data, as well as the potential outcomes of this important shift for the study of the Greco-Roman world. By focusing on these potential outcomes, the panelists demonstrated how we can begin to develop standards that not only incentivize open data publishing in our disciplines, but also prioritize the creation of sustainable, scalable models for the institutions that maintain them.
Visual Resources staff Julia Gearhart, Yichin Chen and Leigh Lieberman were delighted to present to ART 400, the Junior Seminar, on Thursday, November 10. Julia and Yichin spoke about the history of images in the art history classroom, and some of the benefits and challenges of the multitude of digital images available today. Leigh spoke about good digital practices for A&A students, including collecting, managing, and sharing data. On November 16 Julia spoke to Prof. Janet Kay’s class, ART 402, Ethics in Archaeology, about the history of A&A excavations and ethical considerations in archives.
Dr. Shelley Stone, Professor Emeritus of Art History, CSU Bakersfield, visited the Morgantina excavation archives November 8-11 to finalize some digitization requests for forthcoming publications.
Leigh also co-led a workshop with her colleague Tiffany Earley-Spadoni called Digging Up Data: A Showcase of Ongoing Digital Scholarship Projects for both the virtual and in person annual meetings of the American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR). The workshop showcased the individual journeys of scholars who spent the previous year developing digital, data-driven, public-facing projects as a part of the experimental professional development program launched by Leigh and Tiffany, a program that has received excellent feedback and support from ASOR leadership. We are also very pleased to hear that Profs. Andrea DeGiorgi and Asa Eger received the G. Ernest Wright Book Award for ANTIOCH: A History at the ASOR conference as well.
Interesting resources and projects:
Surprise Machines is an interactive visualization of the Harvard Art Museums’ 200,000 objects. It is a collaboration between the museum and metaLAB that is part of an exhibition series called Curatorial A(i)gents intended to “investigate innovative curatorial practices through AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques.” The installation involves a large monitor showing digital images of museum objects that the viewer can control (zooming, dragging, scrolling, etc.) with their body movement. Read the paper on Surprise Machines: Revealing Harvard Art Museums’ Image Collection.
If you are interested in the visualization of museum collections please sign up for our Wintercession workshop on January 18, 2023 titled Data Literacy and Visualization for GLAM Collections(Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). Registration will open December 1.
On Monday October 3 Visual Resources hosted Dr. Fikret K. Yegül for the hybrid Howard Crosby Butler Memorial Lecture. Dr. Yegül’s lecture was a thoughtful, nuanced examination of the life and career of an exceptional man. Thank you to everyone who attended and we hope to continue to bring to life more of the amazing stories in the archives.
ASOR workshop by Leigh Lieberman
Leigh Lieberman co-led a workshop at The American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR) Virtual Meeting on October 19 titled Digging Up Data: A Showcase of Ongoing Digital Scholarship Projects. If anyone is interested in learning more, please reach out to Leigh at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continued lantern slide digitization
We are continuing to digitize and share the lantern slides of historic sites in Greece, and more recently, the architecture of India. There appear to be about 800 slides of traditional Indian architecture plus sculpture and decorative arts of southeast Asia: all appear to be taken pre-1945. If you would like to see the collection please reach out.
News and resources:
OpenBibArt: a freely available database that brings together the legacy bibliography data from Répertoire d’Art et d’Archéologie, Répertoire International de la Littérature de l’Art, and Bibliographie d’Histoire de l’Art. Search in French or English to discover citations from 1.2 million journal articles, books, exhibition and auction sales catalogues published between 1910 and 2007.
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 (email@example.com).
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.
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!
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 https://puvisres.github.io/Lantern_Slides/about.html
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.
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 (https://www.sinaiarchive.org). 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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