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ARTstor — a Visual Treasure Trove at Your Fingertips

by Alice Bampton

boatingARTstor, a digital image database, over five years old and still growing, now contains over one million images of “arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences.” Initially, ARTstor held 300,000 images but none of modern or contemporary art. There are now over 350,000 images of twentieth and twenty-first century works.

Not just for art historians, the collections support multidisciplinary uses. Need a photograph of Nelson Mandela or East African folk art? Representations of Ophelia across the centuries or examples of Gothic architecture?  Contemporary writers’ photos include the young Jack Kerouac. You may also peruse the Thomas Eakins collection, which includes the well-known “Gross Clinic” and his boating paintings.

stained-glass-shieldWhile its name suggests that the collection is intended for those in the arts, ARTstor provides handouts for many other disciplines ranging from African and African-American Studies, American Studies, Classical Studies, Languages and Literature, Music History, Religious Studies, Women’s Studies and more.

Each handout contains suggestions for useful collections to search, helpful search tips and appropriate browsing categories. From the initial ARTstor page, go to Collections & Services and select Collections by topic. Under each topic, the “Learn more” link connects you to a handout that provides a description and search tips for each collection.

In 2009 ARTstor added twenty-five new collections, ranging in size from twenty to more than 9,600 images and covering a wide variety of subjects, such as Indian art, Asian art, medieval stained glass, early twentieth century fashion plates, plans of ancient and medieval buildings and archaeological sites, and African art and field photography.

In addition to the new collections added, ARTstor expanded nineteen pre-existing collections and signed new collection agreements for thirty-three additional collections.

After initially logging into ARTstor from on campus, users can then access its collections from off campus for 120 days. ARTstor offers online information for getting started, searching for images, organizing and presenting them, and support and training for its patrons.

Give this rich resource a try!

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Last Modified: July 26, 2010