ARTstor provides digital arts images

Allison Halco and Allison Halco

Although many aren’t aware of it yet, students and faculty members at the University now have the ability to see artwork from all over the world without ever leaving their computers.

This semester, the University began subscribing to ARTstor, an online database that contains digital images of art from collections in countries throughout the world. Once logged on to the ARTstor Web site, students and faculty members can search for certain works or just browse the site’s growing collection of approximately 3,000 images.

Andrew Hershberger, an art history professor, was a driving force in bringing ARTstor to the University. He first met the ARTstor administrators last year while lecturing at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York and remained in contact with them. As a result of this relationship, the University became a test site for the database until last July, when the database began requiring subscriptions for use.

“I basically lobbied on behalf of the School of Arts to get ARTstor here, and I was successful,” Hershberger said.

Lorraine Haricombe, University Libraries dean, also played a large role in bringing the database to campus.

“She’s a very important person in bringing ARTstor to the University,” Hershberger said.

Haricombe made the decision to fund the ARTstor subscription from interest made by the libraries off of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Her decision was based on the growing number of people at the University using the ARTstor test site.

“[The test site] became very popular very quickly,” Haricombe said. “We received very good feedback.”

In addition to allowing users to simply view images, ARTstor also allows the creation of image groups, or collections of related images. This is especially useful for professors because they can save an image group of pictures to present during a lecture. This is a good deal easier than using slide projectors, according to Hershberger, because while slides can only be shown once per lecture, digital images can be shown many times over.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, we only have one slide of a work of art,” Hershberger said. “But you can duplicate a digital image and show it as many times as you want during a lecture.”

Using digital images is also better than using slides, Hershberger said, because slides do not often produce clear close-up images.

“If you have a good quality digital image, you can zoom in and see details that are really significant,” he said. “It gives you the unlimited ability to create new details of a photo or image.”

In addition to helping the obvious audience of art students and professors, the ARTstor database will be useful to other areas of study as well.

“It’s going to benefit anybody in the whole University who uses cultural imagery of any kind,” Hershberger said.

The ARTstor database is accessible through the University libraries’ web site or at