Visual Resources Update February 2024

Visual Resources Update February 2024

Transfer of Andreas Alföldi Collection to the Hungarian National Museum

Two photographs of ancient objects sit on top of an open cardboard box of file folders
Andreas Alföldi collection files being inventoried, boxed and packed for shipping to Budapest.

In anticipation of moving into a much smaller space, we are making efforts to review all collections and consolidate where possible. We identified a small collection (one full vertical file cabinet drawer) of photographic prints that belonged to Andreas Alföldi. Alföldi was a Hungarian-born Late Antique historian who became affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study’s School of Historical Studies in 1956 until his death in 1981. IAS has informed us that all his papers were sent to the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest in 2011. After consulting with A&A department members we decided the best home for these photographs (of, mostly, iron age grave finds in Slovenia) would also be at the Hungarian National Museum. Michele Mazeris inventoried the collection, packaged and organized the transfer to Dr. Ádám Szabó (Department of Archaeology, Hungarian National Museum). We are confident this transfer will ultimately benefit future scholars of his work.

Progress report on Lantern Slides of Greece

Work steadily continues on the Greek Lantern Slides Project. VR holds 42 drawers of glass lantern slides of Greece containing around 4000 slides in total. So far, 10 drawers have been fully processed, which means: digitizing the image, scanning the label, inputting data, and geo-referencing location. At this point, twenty-one drawers have been digitized and are ready for data cleaning and geo-referencing. This project started in September 2021 and we are 80% done: Yichin Chen manages 2 students working on the project this semester and will hopefully finish processing the rest of the drawers this year.

Visual Resources in the Classroom

This month, Leigh Anne Lieberman had an opportunity to introduce the students in ART 466 (Sicily: An Architectural History taught by Professor Basile Baudez and Ph.D. candidate Sofia Hernandez) to Morgantina, a site in central Sicily that had a strong connection to Princeton for nearly 70 years. In this class session, Leigh shared stories about Princeton’s deep relationship to the site, as well as details about the ongoing excavations, The Agora Valley Project, for which she serves as the Data Director. The students were engaged, asking great questions, as Leigh reviewed the ancient history of the settlement, and we’re excited to follow up with them in a few weeks when Julia Gearhart visits the class to share more Morgantina gems from the archives.

Interesting Projects and Resources:

The Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton has a Call for Applications: DH for Hellenic Studies: Working with Ancient and Medieval Texts (due March 11)

The University of Cambridge Faculty of Classics presents Explosive Wace: twelve albums of cellulose nitrate negatives dating from 1902-3 by archaeologist Alan J.B. Wace.

Wintercession 2024


Fans of Chinese Ink Paintings

This year, Yichin Chen organized a Wintersession titled Fans of Chinese Ink Paintings. The workshop not only offered attendees a unique opportunity to appreciate and learn Chinese ink paintings from the guest artist, Mansheng Wang but also to craft their creations to take home on a fan.

In the 3-hour workshop, attendees first learned a brief history of Chinese ink painting on fans presented by A&A graduate student, Yutong Li. Then they were treated to a mesmerizing showcase of Mr. Wang’s pandemic-inspired works, alongside a discourse on his artistic and literary concepts. After that, Mr. Wang explained each painting tool he used and demonstrated brushwork techniques. After practicing on paper, attendees painted and created their work on a handheld fan to bring home.

Sicilian Stories: Tales and Treats from the American Excavations at Morgantina

In Sicilian Stories: Tales and Treats from the American Excavations at Morgantina, A&A Graduate Student Will Pedrick and A&A Digital Project Specialist Leigh Anne Lieberman introduced participants to the Sicilian site that has captivated Princeton audiences for almost 70 years: Morgantina. While V/R maintains the archival records from Princeton’s early work at the archaeological site, a new campaign sponsored by The American Excavations at Morgantina (The Agora Valley Project) aims to address some of the questions left answered by the site’s previous excavators. Participants in this workshop learned about Morgantina’s rich history as well as Princeton’s important legacy at the site. They also got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of The Agora Valley Project’s ongoing work, all while sampling some traditional Sicilian sweets from D’Angelo Italian Market and learning about opportunities to contribute to this cutting-edge research program.

Visual Resources Update December 2023/January 2024

Visual Resources Update December 2023/January 2024

In Memoriam: Malcolm (Mac) Bell III

Malcolm (Mac) Bell III passed away in Rome on January 7, 2024. During his time as a Princeton student (AB in 1963, PhD in 1972) Mac worked on the Morgantina, Sicily excavations of which he would eventually take over the directorship in 1980. Mac visited and corresponded regularly with staff in Visual Resources: we will remember him fondly and offer our deepest sympathies to his family. This tribute issued by the Archaeological Institute of America honors his memory and many achievements.

In Memoriam: Malcolm (Mac) Bell III

Wintersession 2024

Leigh Lieberman and Yichin Chen organized two successful workshops for this year’s Wintersession: Sicilian Stories: Tales and Treats from the American Excavations at Morgantina and Fans of Chinese Painting. We will have a separate posting with photographs of all the fun coming soon.

New Year, New Public Domain Works

It is that time of year again: time to get excited about which artists will be out of copyright in the New Year. It is absolutely thrilling to say that the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, who has been so influential in the world of copyright, is out of copyright on January 1, 2024. Here is a good roundup of what else will be available, put together by Public Domain Review.

A Review of Requests and Inquiries into VR Collections in 2023

Colorful bar chart showing number of requests by month.
Click to enlarge

Every January the statistics of archival requests are compiled and it is helpful to see which collections are in high demand (for both research purposes and publication). We anticipate that, when our comprehensive digital collections platform is up and more populated, there will be a greater number of collections represented in these requests.

Additions to the Michigan-Princeton Sinai Archive

A small illuminated manuscript is vertical and open to an image of robed men
Codex 2123 : New Testament with Psalter; folio 125v: Incredulity of Thomas (Image courtesy of the Michigan-Princeton-Alexandria Expeditions to Mount Sinai, University of Michigan, Fred Anderegg photographer)

We are very excited to say that an additional 654 images of Sinai manuscripts from the University of Michigan have been added to the Michigan-Princeton-Alexandria Expeditions to Sinai website, adding 265 previously unrepresented folios. That brings the total number of images in the digital collection to over 13,000. In fall 2023 the first batch of 77 liturgical objects was added, and we hope to have a second batch finalized by the end of the spring 2024 semester. None of this work would be possible without the help of talented graduate students, so if you are interested in Sinai or the Weitzmann collection in general, please reach out.

Interesting resources and projects

If you want to learn more about UK copyright and image fees, this is a helpful article by Bendor Grosvenor.

Visual Resources Update November 2023

Visual Resources Update November 2023

We are excited to announce two wintersessions:

Orange poster with photos from Morgantina

Sicilian Stories: Tales & Treats from The American Excavations at Morgantina  (Monday, January 22, 1-4pm)

Presented by Digital Project Specialist Leigh Lieberman and A&A PhD candidate Will Pedrick

Archaeologists from Princeton University began excavating at Morgantina, a small town in east central Sicily, in 1955. The excavations at the then unidentified settlement were intended to provide training for American students, especially those in Princeton’s Department of Art and Archaeology. While the department maintains the archival records from these early efforts at the site, a new campaign sponsored by The American Excavations at Morgantina (The Agora Valley Project) aims to address some of the questions left unanswered by the site’s previous excavators. Participants in this workshop will learn about Morgantina’s rich history as well as Princeton’s important legacy at the site. Moreover, participants will take a behind-the-scenes tour of The Agora Valley Project’s ongoing work, all while sampling some traditional Sicilian sweets and learning about opportunities to contribute to this cutting-edge research program.

Fans of Chinese ink paintings (Wednesday, January 24, 1-4pm)

Presented by Yichin Chen, Curator of Asian Collections and Digital Specialist, and A&A PhD candidate Yutong Li

This hands-on workshop is for anyone interested in how to paint and appreciate Chinese ink paintings. Participants will get their own tool kit, learn how to hold and use a brush, and paint on a take-home handheld paper fan. Guest presentations by artist Mansheng Wang and A&A graduate student Yutong Li round out the day.

ASOR Membership Service Award for Leigh Lieberman

From left to right: Melissa Cradic, Tiffany Earley-Spadoni, and Leigh Anne Lieberman receiving the 2023 American Society of Overseas Research Membership Service Award (photo credit: Katherine Schmitt, ASOR Membership Coordinator).

Leigh Anne Lieberman participated in the American Society of Overseas Research Annual Meeting this past month in Chicago. While there, alongside two of her colleagues (Melissa Cradic and Tiffany Earley Spadoni) and with the support of The Alexandria Archive Institute/Open Context, Leigh received the American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR) Membership Service Award. This award recognizes individuals who have made special contributions on behalf of the ASOR membership. Leigh and her colleagues received this award for designing and implementing “Digging Up Data”, an innovative professional development program that aims to provide critical education and mentorship in data literacy and digital scholarship to early career scholars in the ASOR community.


Leigh Lieberman and Julia Gearhart enjoyed speaking to students in Prof. Kitzinger’s Art400, Junior Seminar, on November 20th and relayed some of the history of image use in teaching art history as well as how data, and data management, could play a role in their scholarship.

Art and Archaeology Slide Collections

Prior to the pandemic, with the immense help of longtime Media Specialist Marilyn Hansen, VR weeded through the collection of glass lantern slides that was being stored in a warehouse off campus. Weeding followed guidelines set forth by faculty in committee meetings, and only copystand and poor quality slides were de-accessioned (i.e. made available to students and faculty to take home). Those de-accessioned slides that still remained were brought to the artist Jean Shin for repurposing in her work. We now have a more manageable 15,000 glass lantern slide collection that we invite anyone to explore. That said, we will have even less space in the new building, and our slide collections will have to remain offsite, with limited access. We encourage anyone interested in these collections to try to see them before the move, which could be as early as late summer 2024.

Interesting projects and resources:

Open Access article related to Sinai: New Light on Old Manuscripts: The Sinai Palimpsests and Other Advances in Palimpsest Studies (Claudia Rapp, Jana Gruskova, Giullia Rosseto, Grigory Kessel, Eds) 

Artlas – BasArt is a collaborative database of exhibition catalogues from the 19th century to the present day.  Its aim is to gradually decentralize the sources available to researchers, thus decentralizing their focus often too centered on Europe and North America. It is in open access, available to all, through a simple mapping and statistical interface that facilitates global research.

Visual Resources Update October 2023

Visual Resources Update October 2023

Color the Past outreach event on International Archaeology Day

Three line drawings on a table top with pencils spilling from a canister on the left.
Coloring pages and colored pencils provided for Color the Past as part of International Archaeology Day, 2023 (photo by Yichin Chen)

Commemorating International Archaeology Day, Visual Resources partnered with The Princeton Public Library for an all ages “Color the Past” event. Participants helped themselves to coloring supplies as well as copies of pen and ink drawings of monuments and artifacts drafted by Howard Crosby Butler during his campaigns to Sardis and Greece. These drawings from the archive were only slightly edited by Yichin Chen to enable their use as coloring pages. Funding for materials and supplies was obtained from AIA by Leigh Lieberman. Additional coloring pages and pencils were made available in the Department of Art and Archaeology administrative offices for students to take.

University of Liverpool presentation on the Brünnow and Domaszewski collection

A woman in a robe sits with her legs to the side on a camel, a man holds the camel lead.
Odruh [Udhruh, Jordan]: Marguerite Brünnow on a camel. Unpublished. (Image number 597.2)
Visual Resources hosted seven visiting researchers over the summer, two of whom came from the UK to examine the oldest archive in the department, that of Rudolf-Ernst Brünnow, and Alfred von Domaszewski. Naomi Rubinstein and Phil Freeman will be presenting their research from the summer in a Work in Progress seminar on Wednesday November 15 3-4pm GMT = 11am EST and it will be live via Zoom. The title of the lecture is: Archiving an archive: the Brünnow and Domaszewski Photographs of Transjordan. As listed in the announcement: In this presentation, Naomi and Phil will use the collection of Brünnow papers held at the Department of Art and Archaeology in Princeton University to explore how and why Brünnow & Domaszewski embarked on their archaeological survey of Transjordan, while highlighting the difficulties of curating these papers. If you are interested in attending please reach out to for the Zoom link and passcode.

Oversized drawing photography: progress update

Detailed pen drawing of gothic cathedral portal and alley.
Rouen, 1892. Pen and ink drawing by Howard Crosby Butler (Drawing number 460)

The allocation of an additional basement room has allowed John Blazejewski, department photographer, to photograph the large drawings in the collections. Antioch excavation drawings, including these larger drawings, are often requested for research and publication. Now that all have been photographed, we can avoid sending them out for capture and risking damage. John also photographed Howard Crosby Butler’s pen and ink illustrations from Syria and Sardis, and also lesser-known works from his publications on Athens and Scottish abbeys. This fall John will continue his photography with Agora excavation drawings from the Homer Thompson collection.

Graduate student working group set for November 8

Leigh Lieberman is offering the next grad student working group on November 8 from 12:00-1:15pm in 3-S-15 Green Hall, the topic for which will be: “How to choose the right bibliographic citation software.” We encourage all graduate students to attend, and if anyone has any questions to please reach out to Leigh at

Interesting resources and projects:

Explore cultural heritage collections across the Yale University campus through a new search platform called LUX.

You can now explore the Courtauld Gallery’s full collection online, 33, 000 works with high-definition images, in their new digital platform launched September 14.

A new method to search across manuscript and archive collections at Bodleian Libraries and Oxford Colleges which brings together 11 different catalogs into one search.

Visual Resources Update September 2023

Visual Resources Update September 2023

Welcome back! We have had a busy summer (7 visiting researchers!) and look forward to both sharing our progress and embarking on new projects in the coming academic year.

ART341 students consult the Day-Klauder scrapbooks

Dark-haired female is sitting at a table looking at large red books.
Student consulting the Day-Klauder scrapbooks in Visual Resources (2-N-7/8 Green Hall).

Visual Resources has been happy to host the students of Prof. Baudez’s class, Art 341: Neo Architectures, from the Renaissance to Postmodernism the last two weeks in September. Students are consulting the Day-Klauder archive, a collection of thirty leather-bound scrapbooks containing images of American and European architecture and architectural details that was used as a kind of visual reference library in the Day-Klauder Architectural firm in Philadelphia, active roughly 1911-1927. Frank Miles Day and Charles Z. Klauder are probably best known for their collegiate buildings, including Princeton’s own Holder Hall.

Grad student working group

Leigh Lieberman has just launched a working group for graduate students in the department who want to learn about and experiment with data management strategies, digital scholarship, and computational methods for their research and teaching. Participants in this working group will learn about the basics of data management; vet digital tools for organizing bibliography and images; explore the complex landscape of digital image permissions; experiment with various platforms for digital exhibitions; and more! The working group’s first meeting will be Monday October 2nd from 4:30-6:00pm in 3-S-15 Green Hall; to RSVP for this session, and to receive information about future working group events, please complete this short form.

Beginning of Mount Athos Project and Digitization

Medieval manuscript page with foliate designs and ornate text (Greek).
Vatopedi Codex 1080 fol. 1r (Kurt Weitzmann Archive)

Visual Resources is proud to be a major part of the project Connecting Histories: The Princeton and Mount Athos Legacy, a multi-year collaborative project that aims to explore and bring awareness to the unique cultural heritage of Mount Athos in Greece and its connection to Princeton. Two excellent undergraduate students have been hired as Digital Image Specialists who are responsible for digitizing some of the many photographic negatives of manuscripts of Mount Athos from the Kurt Weitzmann archive. We are grateful that these positions are funded by A&A and the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies with the support of the Dimitrios and Kalliopi Monoyios Modern Greek Studies Fund.

Interesting resources and projects:

Explore some newly cataloged turn-of-the-century photographs of Paris streets by Eugène Atget at the Getty Museum in this short blog post by Antares Wells.

There are more and more vintage sales catalogs being made available online, which are great resources. Here is one from the Louvre reconstructing the catalog of the Demotte Gallery (roughly 1900-1930).



Visual Resources Monthly Update May 2023

Visual Resources Monthly Update May 2023

A large pyramidal greenhouse on the left, with multiple geodesic dome buildings attached on the right, with a deep blue sky and desert landscape behind it.
View of Biosphere 2, now managed by the University of Arizona (Photo by Leigh Lieberman)

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

Five men standing alongside pack mules in front of the entrance to a large stone building. "No Woman's Land" is written above and crossed out with a red line.
Poster for the Mount Athos Exhibition: From Princeton to Mount Athos and the Meteora in 1929 (image courtesy The Mount Athos Center)

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,, 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.

Visual Resources Monthly Update April 2023

Images for courses in Canvas

A list of words on the left, a detail of a medieval manuscript page at center, and thumbnail images of other manuscript pages at right.
A screenshot of the Mirador image viewer in action in a Canvas course.

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

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

Orange book against white background titled G.E. Kidder Smith Builds
G.E. Kidder Smith Builds: The Travel of Architectural Photography

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.

Interesting projects and resources:

German Design Drawings Explored: New discoveries in the collections at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

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.

Visual Resources Update March 2023

Visual Resources Update March 2023

Howard Crosby Butler archive featured in the classroom for ART 102
Students stand around a long table looking at various sized drawings, notebooks and photographs laid out on the table before them.
Students of ART102 examining items from the Howard Crosby Butler archive (Photograph by Yichin Chen)

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
Ezgi Erol (photograph copyright Carolina Frank)

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
Two dusty glass jars with old labels and two old cardboard boxes with 'Princeton Expedition to Sicily' stamped on them and a mailing label with a Stockholm address.
Contents of a box found in the collections of the Earth and Minerals Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at Penn State University (photo by Dr. Leigh Lieberman)

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.

In the Flesh: Body Fat in Ancient Art a project by the J. Paul Getty Museum and Google Arts and Culture.

Visual Resources Update February 2023

Artstor content available in JSTOR

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.

Skills development

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.

Text (code) in Python programming language

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

A man with an apron sweeps cobblestones on the foreground. Sailing ships, steamboats and a fortress are in the bay behind.
From the lantern slide collection: (D20.14.7) Label reads: Candia (Herakleion) Harbor from quay with street cleaner. Department of Art and Archaeology Collection.

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.