Search by Color: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

I have to say that I’m a big fan of alternative search options when it comes to internet searching. Of course, there is simply no debating the usefulness of keywords and Boolean operators when searching the internet, but not every query is easily expressed in words. This is especially true of image searches. You might not have the foggiest idea which word or words will provide the results you’re looking for. You might have tried all the words you can think of and found no useful results. Sometimes what your looking for simply can’t be put into words.

But what about color?

Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum is notable for several reasons. One: it is the only museum in America exclusively dedicated to historic and contemporary design.

Two: It’s located in the sprawling 64-room mansion built by industrial magnate Andrew Carnegie on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

source: cooperhewitt.org

Whoa.

…and Three: While perhaps not as impressive as the last two facts, its website is also home to a very cool feature: browse by color. While you can search by color in an advanced Google image search, Google’s color search is a secondary search parameter, one that can be applied after you’ve entered a search keyword.

By comparison, the Cooper Hewitt color search, Colors!, is a very slick tool that emphasizes browsing rather than search, making it better suited to more nebulous queries. Plus, while Google’s color search is limited to 15 color options, visitors to Cooper Hewitt’s site can search the collection by 118 different colors. You read that right: 118! So, how do they do it?

Objects with images now have up to five representative colors attached to them. The colors have been selected by our robotic eye machines who scour each image in small chunks to create color averages. These have then been harvested and “snapped” to the grid of 118 (of a possible 139) different colors—derived from the CSS4 palette and naming conventions—below to make navigation a little easier.

If you think it sounds interesting, definitely give it a try. For example, here is a selection of some of the things that come up under mediumvioletred and the hex value #c71585

There are, of course, some limitations to the function. First of all, only a small fraction of the collection has been digitized, so some colors have very limited results. Also, as noted in the quote above, images are sorted into five color categories, so works with numerous, varied colors will only appear in a maximum of five color headings.

Still, while it may appear to be more novelty than necessity, Colors! is a potentially very useful tool for the kind of image search that would normally take one to Tumblr, Pinterest, or similar. It’s a visual playground for anyone seeking examples of graphic design, pattern, textiles, posters, prints, etc. from around the world and across time.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to explore the collection. You can search by time period, country, location in the mansion, people, tags, and types.

Oh, and you can search by keyword, too.

Domestic Interiors Database: the new HGTV?

As much as I keep it a secret, I do have to admit that I love shows about buying and selling homes. There’s nothing like watching interior decorators transform a space, watching newlyweds fight about what room to make their office and which to make their guest room, and seeing a dilapidated house change from potentially-haunted into a modern, cozy, living space. Instead of binge-watching HGTV and watching people fawn over their granite counter tops, there’s also an excellent archive of domestic interiors that spans both time and space.

Compiled by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Center for the Study of the Domestic Interior, this archive was built between 2001 and 2006, as a part of the AHRC’s mission to “ensure that knowledge and understanding by arts and humanities research is widely disseminated for the economic, social, and cultural benefit of the UK and beyond.” The archive features over 3,000 entries, spanning six centuries of interior designs.

The Domestic Interior Database (DIDB) is interested in investigating the way the use of domestic space changed over time, decorative and functional objects within domestic interiors, and how people of these times considered their spaces. These questions are posed through the accumulation  of both reference information and interpretive data, supported through images such as: Renaissance paintings, popular magazines, eighteenth century graphic-satire, and drawings. Textually-based evidence is sourced from novels, poetry, diaries, letters, advertisements, and periodicals. Due to the plethora of visual culture materials sourced, and the wide-range of supporting text-based materials, this is truly an interdisciplinary archive that may prove useful for many times of research going beyond domestic interiors.

The DIDB is also an incredibly transparent archive, with a separate page devoted to discussing the research methodologies that went in to selecting and curating materials to be a part of the database, as well as selected bibliographies. When searching on the DIDB, you can even save searches and results for long-term projects. To begin searching through the archive, simply enter a keyword in the search box on the upper-right hand corner. For example, I searched for ‘magazines’ and returned with 303 results spanning the years 1769-2005.

A revolution in the printing industry in the eighteenth century stimulated a rise in serial publications and an improvement in printing techniques. The Town and Country magazine included illustrated plates…(1769)

Each record provides basic information about the artifact, but also adds scholarly commentary about the image, and lists themes, representational strategies, and a break down of the space to aid in a user’s understanding of the image. For example, in a survey of a 1945 photograph of a war submarine’s living quarters, the record lists the type of dwelling this space would be considered (institutional and residential), the quantity of rooms within the space (Dining room, workspace), and the objects within the space (coverings, furniture, equipment). The final entry in these records gives suggestions of related archive entries to view.

“This official photograph shows part of the wardroom (officers’ quarters) of the submarine HMS Tribune. Even in the extremely cramped interior of the submarine, attempts were made to incorporate the usual, class-specific visual vocabulary of officer status with, for instance, dark wooden paneling, magazine racks and furniture such as wardrobes.”

In addition to these types of entries, design fanatics can enjoy a historical take on familiar domestic spaces. For example, I was able to find this 1947 book illustration on advice for setting up a ‘proper’ living room:

“This double-page illustrated guide to arranging and decorating the living room is one of four selected from Modern Homes Illustrated of 1947 which offers practical suggestions to readers for laying out different rooms in the house. The advice above features both a traditional recipe for converting an attic room into a functional living room and a more modern ‘open-plan’ version on the ground floor.”

The archive maintains compelling artifacts that show the evolution of domestic spaces in multiple eras, locations, and from perspectives of different class levels and occupations. These mass-produced guides on living room arrangement are drastically different from Renaissance oil paintings of bourgeois interiors:

“It shows a large interior space, with glazed windows and leather hangings, but which is otherwise almost empty. Scale and the surface decoration of the walls are given most weight. It is often interpreted as a courtesans’ interior. The proximity of the seated man and woman, the woman playing music, and the dancing suggest sociability, but the bed which is prominently depicted behind the couple does suggest a sense of heightened sexuality.”

Whatever corner of the archive you find yourself searching through, make sure to steal some design-inspiration for your own home!

Open Buildings: A digital archive of the World’s Built Environment

One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is take a train into Chicago and stroll around the city. I am constantly in awe of the skyscrapers that tower above me. While I can recognize such buildings as the famous Lake Shore Drive Apartments by Modernist architect, Mies van der Rohe, many of the buildings that surround me, not only in Chicago, but even here in Champaign-Urbana remain anonymous (for more information on C-U architecture, check out the architecture tours in ExploreCU). This is unfortunate, as all buildings carry a history. Accessing this history has become incredibly easy, however, with the use of a website called, Open Buildings, an online archive and forum showcasing existing buildings and conceptual architecture.

Not only is Open Buildings an excellent resource to learn about the origins of everyday buildings that surround us, but it’s also a great tool to connect with other architecture fans, firms, and professionals. Open Buildings is both an archive of architectural structures, as well as a directory of architects.

Open Buildings allows you to search for specific buildings, architects, particular building functions, and even browse through collections. Each day, the website features a different building to explore, from Airspace Tokyo to a house built for skateboarders. Open Buildings features both well-known landmarks and innovative, lesser-known designs. In addition to searching through their featured housing, Open Buildings has curated collections for users to browse as well. Collection categories range from building function (Contemporary Religious Buildings), material use (Bamboo Architecture), to groups of architectures (Architects Under 40).

Open Buildings Homepage displaying Featured building.

Open Buildings Homepage displaying Featured building.

Open Buildings also has a map feature that lets you search for buildings of interest nearby (click the image below for some landmarks in Champaign-Urbana!) but even internationally. The website keeps records of existing buildings, structures that have since been destroyed, and conceptual or unrealized architectural projects. Because of Open Building’s comprehensive survey of architectural design, this website can be of use not only to working as an architects, but student designers, urban planners, and scholars alike.

Landmark Buildings in Champaign-Urbana, IL.

Map View of Landmark Buildings in Champaign-Urbana, IL.

Users can edit building profiles to add more information and images, and connect with other users to discuss design issues. There is even a directory feature that lists over 14,000+ working professionals. After creating a free account, you can upload your own portfolio, comment on designs, and contact professional architects.

A mobile app is even available, perfect for the next time you find yourself on city streets wondering, “What is this beautiful building?”

New Getty images added to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

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Albert Smith’s Mont Blanc and China : Egyptian Hall., [ca. 1859]

Last year, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) was launched in order to bring the special collections of numerous cultural heritage institutions across the county together on one platform. The New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard Library, and our very own University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are counted among DPLA’s twenty three partners. Among the over 8 million items included in DPLA are about 100,000 newly added items from the Getty Research Institute.

The Getty Research Institute and DPLA are both committed to making American society’s digitized cultural heritage as openly accessible as possible, and furthermore offers tools such as geo-mapping and timeline options to encourage users such as software developers and researchers to use content transformatively. In addition to partnering with institutions in the United States, DPLA is also collaborating with its European counterpart, Europeana, to provide unified access to collections in both portals through a single search.

The Getty Research Institute’s contribution to DPLA includes items from the 15th century to the present, with highlights being photographs from architectural photographer Julius Shulman’s archive, the Jacobson collection of Orientalist photography, Edouard Manet’s letters, ledgers of art dealers, and painting inventories.

According to Allison Meier, “The Getty Research Institute will continue to add more in the partnership, and also this month, the Medical Heritage Library and the US Government Printing Office contributed thousands of items to the DPLA. The collection’s ultimate worth will, of course, come from how these resources are used, but the DPLA is quickly becoming essential for the growing digitized archives.”

Sources:

Meier, Allison. (2014). Getty adds thousands of art historical images to growing digital library. Retrieved from http://hyperallergic.com/150092/getty-adds-thousands-of-art-historical-images-to-growing-digital-library/

Salomon, Kathleen. (2014). 10,000 digitized art history materials from The Getty Research Institute available in DPLA. http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/100000-digitized-art-history-materials-from-the-getty-research-institute-availble-in-dpla/

Paris 3D: An Exraordinary Interactive Journey through Time

Dassault Systèmes has developed an online 3D model of the city of Paris, and they invite users to play the 3D experience on their website. Users may explore Paris by time period: Gallic period, Gallo-Roman period, the Middle Ages, the French Revolution, and the World’s Fair. Users can also explore the virtual city by historical monuments, and see how the city was built piece by piece with the help of historical expertise.

The Bastille in Paris as it looked around the time of the French Revolution, according to a multimedia rendering by Dassault Systèmes.

In his article from the NYT, Eric Pfanner, writes, “The core of the project is the interactive modeling, now available as an application for tablet computers. At the touch of the screen, you can zoom through two millennia of urban development, visiting the famous landmarks of Paris, including some that no longer exist.”

“Building Paris 3D took a team of 20 experts two years to assemble. Dassault, whose software is more commonly used by architects to design buildings, or by car companies to simulate the effects of crashes, worked with specialists from the Carnavalet and consulted old maps, archaeological drawings and other records in a quest for historical accuracy.”

New Year, New Site!

The Visual Resources Center is pleased to announce the launch of their new website!

Image

Find images!

Discover tools for editing, presenting and preserving visual materials!

Get help and further resources!

The new website contains much of the same content as the old, but we’ve moved things around in the hopes of making it more streamlined and easier to find what you’re looking for. Please send us any comments or suggestions you may have!

Instructional images will continue to be available via ARTstor.

Expanded Google Art Project: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Finding High Resolution Images

When Google introduced its Art Project last year, it made a big splash amongst art aficionados, educators, artists, curators, and researchers. There were 1,000 images available from 17 different institutions worldwide, enabling views to zoom in to view incredibly close details. However, almost all of these images were those from Western masters, which invited a flurry of critique to the project. Many of these same art aficionados, educators, artists, curators, and researchers offered ideas on how to enhance the project, and Google listened.

Today, the Art Project includes over 30,000 images from 155 institutions worldwide (street view for 46) , with more on the way. All sizes and types of institutions are embraced, including the White House in Washington D.C. to the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, India.

In addition to adding 29,000 new images to the Art Project, Google has been busy enhancing the tools used to discover and share art. Amit Sood from the Art Project writes:

“Here are a few other new things in the expanded Art Project that you might enjoy:

  • Using completely new tools, called Explore and Discover, you can find artworks by period, artist or type of artwork, displaying works from different museums around the world.
  • Google+ and Hangouts are integrated on the site, enabling you to create even more engaging personal galleries.
  • Street View images are now displayed in finer quality. A specially designed Street View “trolley” took 360-degree images of the interior of selected galleries which were then stitched together, enabling smooth navigation of more than 385 rooms within the museums. You can also explore the gallery interiors directly from within Street View in Google Maps.
  • We now have 46 artworks available with our “gigapixel” photo capturing technology, photographed in extraordinary detail using super high resolution so you can study details of the brushwork and patina that would be impossible to see with the naked eye.
  • An enhanced My Gallery feature lets you select any of the 30,000 artworks—along with your favorite details—to build your own personalized gallery. You can add comments to each painting and share the whole collection with friends and family. (It’s an ideal tool for students.)”

The Art Project works under the auspices of the Google Cultural Institute, which is “building tools that make it simple to tell the stories of our diverse cultural heritage and make them accessible worldwide.” For those of you not so interested in art, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Yad Vashem Commemoration of the Holocost, Digitized Dead Sea Scrolls, La France en relief, and Le Pavillion de l’Arsenal projects may interest you.

While the Art Project is without a doubt exciting, some of you may be wondering how this competes with your other favorite high resolution database: ARTstor. The main difference is that while Google’s Art Project may be fancier to look at and the images an even higher resolution, viewers are still not able to download images for in class presentations. If you want to show your students what Van Gogh’s brushstrokes looked like, you’ll have to take a screenshot and add it to a PowerPoint (or whatever presentation software you use). ARTstor, however, is much more educator friendly. With tools to share your image collections that don’t involve social media and presentation tools such as the Offline Image Viewer, you’re still bound to ‘wow’ your students. Additionally, ARTstor boasts over one million images in its database verses the 30,000 in the Art Project. That’s about 34x the amount of images (or something, I didn’t go into math for a reason)!

So, to sum up: Google Art Project is now more amazing. ARTstor is still amazing. Happy viewing!

Wiki Loves Art Nouveau

the interior of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest taken by Csaba Attila Kontar

Wiki Loves Art Nouveau is a collaboration between Wiki Loves Monuments and Europeana, in which crowd-sourced photo submissions are paired with informational content to create an interactive online exhibition that explores the Art Nouveau movement. Europeana sponsored an Art Nouveau category in the Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest, and from a pool of 2,600 submissions viewed 16,000 times by 700 voters, the winning image of the interior of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest taken by Csaba Attila Kontar was selected. The winning image along with forty other highly ranked photographs and an additional ten selected by a panel of European editors have been combined to create this online exhibition.The exhibition explores the Art Nouveau movement through four thematic micro exhibits, three of which are format based and one that features supplemental images and thematic exploration selected by the editors. The formats explored include exteriors, interiors, and details creating an over-arching emphasis on the way that technological innovation enabled artists, architects and designers to pursue unified exteriors, interiors, and decorative elements. Attention is paid to recurring design motifs drawn from nature and the gravitation towards undulating non-linear elements as a rejection of the existing neoclassical conventions.

The exhibition is smartly structured – it provides a thorough introduction to the style with ample illustration that explains the movements theoretical substance while allowing users unfamiliar with Art Nouveau to grasp its aesthetic execution. At the same time, the structured presentation of the images and text creates a systematic argument for the cohesiveness of the style and the thoroughness with which it was applied in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The exhibition focuses on Art Nouveau as a stylistic break with tradition and a reaction against convention visible in everything from its non-geometric architecture to the use of gold decoration and lighting to evoke a whimsical other-worldliness. The exhibition manages to stress the hallmarks of the style in a structured and systematic way without reducing it to a formula. For a more comprehensive history and exploration of the style, see Europeana’s other Art Nouveau virtual exhibition

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Ara Pacis Augustae collection

Developed by Charles S. Rhyne at Reed College in conjunction with Reed’s Visual Resources Center and Web Support Services, the Ara Pacis Augustae collection seeks to “to make available a more comprehensive body of images of the Ara Pacis than previously available in any print or web publication.” According to Professor Rhyne, “the Ara Pacis Augustae is a complex masterpiece, with elaborate reliefs including more than a hundred figures and voluminous vegetation filled with the details of nature. It is also a much damaged and reconstructed monument, making it important to distinguish original from later portions and more recent changes. This web site attempts to provide in-depth visual documentation in support of the in-depth scholarly publications that have so enriched our understanding of Augustan art and society.’

The site is neatly organized into different views of the altar, such as aerial views, interior walls, and public approach. Also included are several different publications detailing the Ara Pacis. The site is copyrighted by Reed College and Charles Rhyne, but indicates that images images and text are available under fair use guidelines.

Overall, this is a well organized and thorough exploration of one of the most iconic architectural monuments in Western history. However, users must use the images within the site, as they cannot be downloaded.

Tourist photos from pre-Revolutionary Moscow

For all you Russian history aficionados out there, this collection is a fascinating look at Moscow in 1909. Taken by journalist Murray Howe on an exhibition tour of American champion trotting horses, 77 of the 400 photos taken were digitized and made available via Flickr by Howe’s great-grandson, Andrew Howe V.

The Moscow Times writes of the photographs, “His photographs of pedestrians, street venders and aristocrats are rare glimpses of everyday life before the upheavals of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution — and sparked huge interest in Russia among history buffs and local museums.”

While downloading images from the Flickr site is currently disabled, those interested in using the images can contact Andrew Howe at ahowe@cranewoods.com.

the Memory of the Netherlands

Welcome back, students, faculty, and staff! We hope your fall semester is off to a delightful start.

For those of you with an interest in Netherlandish history, I’m about to make your week even more delightful. The Memory of the Netherlands is a self-described “gigantic digital treasury,” full of information about the Dutch past. Offering hundreds of thousands of digital images, recordings, film footage, and texts, the Memory site organizes this wealth of information into several exhibitions, collections, and themes.

While you’ll still find images of windmills, wooden shoes and tulips are few and far between. Rather, the Memory site provides well thought out exhibitions that explore life in Holland today and themes that range from religion to cartoons.

While the Memory site is largely in English and searchable using English keywords, information about the images and other objects are in Dutch.

Archivision now available campus-wide through ARTstor

Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp

Formerly available only to the faculty and students of the UI Architecture Department, the University Library has purchased a campus wide subscription for Archivision.  The Archivision Digital Research Library is currently comprised of 47,000 images of architecture, archaeological sites, gardens, parks and works of art with broad appeal in humanities teaching. Digital images in Archivision offers a mix of historic and contemporary material.

This great resource is now available to anyone affiliated with the University of Illinois’ Urbana and Chicago campuses.  Go to http://www.artstor.org/index.shtml and click the “Go” button to enter the ARTstor institutional collectionsARTstor Digital Library.  ARTstor will recognize your UI affiliation and you will see a drop down menu in the center column of the page called Institutional Collections.  You can access the base module of Archivision or any of the additional five Archivision modules from this menu.

Rome in a day

The Architecture department at the University of Oregon has developed two useful interactive mapping tools of Rome. The first, the interactive Nolli map of Rome, is a digitization of the 1748 map of Rome by Giambattista Nolli. This map is regarded by scholars as one of the most important historical documents of the city, and through the work of the University of Oregon the public now has access to this work. Users can zoom in and out, as well as add layers such as gardens, pathways, and fountains.

The second project is Imago Urbis: Giuseppe Vasi’s Grand Tour of Rome, which integrates the Nolli map with the work of Nolli’s contemporary, Giuseppe Vasi (1710-1782). Vasi’s detailed documentation of Rome’s buildings and monuments established him as one of the city’s greatest topographers. With this tool users can view Nolli’s map and Vasi’s plates simultaneously, making it easier to imagine Rome in the 18th century. Plates are grouped into 8 days of an itinerary, making the grand tour of Rome accessible from your couch.

“The Commons” on Flickr

Flickr is home to “The Commons,” a public photo collection that began in 2008 as a collaboration between Flickr and the Library of Congress. It has since expanded to include over 45 institutions, including NASA, the Imperial War Museum, and the New York Public Librar. The Commons is host to thousands of images covering a breadth of subjects, all copyright free.

Users are invited to add tags and descriptions to the photos, making the collection richer and more accessible.


Europeana

Europeana provides access to over six million digital items, including images, texts, sounds, and videos. It is funded by the European Commission and its member states, and includes content from museum, galleries, libraries, archives, and audio-visual collections.

The extensive list of organizations that Europeana pulls its content from includes notable institutions such as the Rijksmuseum, the British Library, and the Louvre.

Currently the online collection is in its beta version, but version 1.0 will be launch later in 2010 and will include links to over ten million digital items.


Saskia Art Images from the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) now in University of Illinois institutional collections in ARTstor

Saskia Art Images CollectionRecently the University Library had ARTstor load the Saskia Image Collection into our institutional collections area of ARTstor.  We have access to this wonderful resource through our membership in the CARLI Consortium.  You will find the Saskia collection listed under “Institutional Collections” when you first enter ARTstor.

The collection contains 30,000 digital imagesof paintings, sculpture and architecture, including images from many important collections:  ThePrado, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Uffizi, and the Louve as well as archaeological sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Egype.  The images can be displayed and downloaded in high-resolution format.  Additionally, the descriptive data about the images includes references to the occurrences of these images in 19 major art history texts, including Garner’s Art Through the Ages, 12th edition; Understanding Art, 7th edition; Art and Ideas, 10th edition; and Discovering Art History, 4th edition.

(Images from ARTstor and CARLI)