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Richard Diebenkorn Sketchbooks

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is currently holding an exhibit of sketchbooks by the Bay Area artist Richard Diebenkorn. The 29 sketchbooks in the exhibit were given to the Cantor Arts Center by Phyllis Diebenkorn, the artist’s wife, and none of them have been seen by the public until now.

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In addition to exhibiting the sketchbooks, Stanford has also digitized all 29 and have made them available to the public. The interactive site is easy to use, allowing viewers to choose a sketchbook and flip through it page by page.

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Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.55.31 AMComprising a website, a traveling exhibition, and book, Qantara is a very rich and interesting resource for studying the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean from Late Antiquity to the 18th century. The website contains over 1500 entries from Western Europe, Byzantium, and Islamic regions that include objects, sites, and monuments. The material can be searched using various intersections such as materials, subjects, or historical period. Each entry has descriptive metadata (size, media, discovery and repository information), a short descriptive essay, and a bibliography.

There are repositories and cultural heritage institutions from nine countries involved in Qantara, and the information has been reviewed by over 200 experts including curators, historians, and researchers.

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Hachiman Digital Handscroll

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Recently, Heidelberg University in Germany launched a new digital handscroll website. The Hachiman Digital Handscroll site contains seven digitized Japanese handscrolls of Karmic Origins of the Great Hachiman Bodhisattva. The scrolls range in date from 1389 to the Nineteenth Century.

In addition to having a simple, easy-to-use navigation framework, the project includes some interesting features. When viewers move their cursors over the scroll, different areas appear in different colors. These layers, as they’re called, provide annotation and additional information on the element highlighted. The text from the scrolls is available in both English and Japanese and readers can easily toggle between the two. Finally, there is also a “light table” feature allowing viewers to compare a particular scene or script passage from all seven scrolls at one.

This site makes an excellent companion to the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project produced here at the University of Chicago!


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Happy Holidays from the Visual Resources Center



We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a happy new year!!

The Visual Resources Center will close on Friday, December 18 and remain closed until Friday, January 2, 2015. See you in 2016!!

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CT Scan of Medieval Manuscript

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Recently, the British Library did a CT Scan of the St. Cuthbert Gospel, one of the oldest European manuscripts, dating to the 8th Century. An explanation of the process of scanning the manuscript can be found on the British Library’s website. Once the manuscript was scanned, along with a facsimile used for comparison, the data was processed in a program called “Drishti,” which allows for exploring and visualizing vast amount of data (above).

From the scans, researchers discovered that the central motif on the binding was made using a clay-like material, rather than gesso or cord as had previously been thought.

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The entire manuscript has been digitized and is available on the British Library’s website here.

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New Module in Archivision Collection


The Visual Resources Center is very pleased to offer over 6,000 new images of architecture and outdoor sculpture loaded overnight to the Archivision Collection. Archivision is a subscription-based collection of almost 78,000 high-resolution, high-quality images of architecture, urban design, gardens, and outdoor sculpture from around the world and all time periods. The collection is curated by Scott Gilchrist, a trained architect and professional photographer.

The latest upload, Module 10, contains a wealth of images of architecture in the United States, including modern and contemporary works in California and the desert southwest. There is also early Modernist buildings from the Netherlands, important buildings in India, campuses of both the Cranbrook Academy and Yale University, topographic views of many US cities, and even images from Yellowstone National Park.

All images are cleared for educational use and publication rights may be obtained at

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Explore Chicago Collections

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On October 22, a consortium of libraries, museums, and other institutions, launched Chicago Collections, a portal allowing access to digital collections related to the City of Chicago. Comprising over 100,000 maps, photographs, books, and archival collections, this portal will allow researchers, students, and the general public to locate materials from collections across the city using one simple interface.

Material can be easily searched by theme (events, daily life, goverment), by neighborhood, or personal name. There is also a virtual reference desk allowing users to ask questions about the collections, as well as facilitate access and use. As the collections grow, there will be additional programming and exhibits.

The University of Chicago Libraries have contributed to Chicago Collections, including finding aids to describe Chicago-based archival and manuscripts collections, as well as thousands of digital images.

To access the collections, use the Explore Chicago Collections page.

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What Jane Saw

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.50.46 AMA great example of Digital Humanities at work, the website “What Jane Saw” digitally re-creates a retrospective exhibit of works by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) visited by Jane Austen in 1813. In addition to an interesting visual interface, the site includes a catalog of works in the exhibit, as well as a floor plan, a video recreation using SketchUp,  and a bibliography.

As the site’s authors explain, “No visual record of this show is known to have survived, although it attracted hundreds of daily visitors during its much-publicized three-month run. However, many details of the exhibit can be reconstructed from the original 1813 “Catalogue of Pictures,” a one-shilling pamphlet purchased by visitors as a guide through the three large rooms where hung 141 paintings by Reynolds. Armed with surviving copies of this pamphlet, narrative accounts in nineteenth-century newspapers and books, and precise architectural measurements of the British Institution’s exhibit space, this website reconstructs the Reynolds show as Jane Austen (as well as any Jane Doe) saw it.”

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Open House Chicago

Once again, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is providing access to over 200 buildings this weekend!OpenHouse

In addition to tours, there are concerts and family programs, and workshops including one on architecture photography. For more information, check out their website. You can also follow on social media using the hashtag #OHC2015

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Consisting of literally thousands of films, videos, sound files, and digitized papers, UbuWeb is a treasure trove of multi-media art. The material is presented freely for noncommercial, educational use. It is easily searchable, often has a short description, and is continually updated.

So, if you’re looking for examples of early Vito Acconci videos, recent work by Matthew Barney, the music of John Cage, or PDFs of the journal “Internationale Situationniste,” UbuWeb is a great resource to find these often esoteric works.

The site has also recently announced that all films are now available to view on mobile device.

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