The Digital Art History Directory (DAHD) is an open-access publication containing a database of digital art history projects and information on data sources, best practices in Digital Art History project construction, preservation, and web archiving. Intended to be the largest, most comprehensive, and inclusive collection of information on Digital Art History and to function as a tool and living resource, rather than a static publication, the DAHD provides a platform for discovery, sharing, and research of Digital Art History.
Diane Zorich’s 2012 report Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship conducted a landmark study of digital art history at art historical research centers and the scholarly community at large and identified key challenges for art history in the digital realm. Zorich identified key behavioral, structural, and technological barriers that affect the growth of digital art history. Significant gaps in technological skills, digital tools, and even discoverable and widely digitized image collections exist in the art historical community. At the heart of Zorich’s study was a recognition art history has not been a traditionally collaborative discipline, valuing and rewarding individual achievement and research in established print publications over innovative and group-focused projects. In 2012, Zorich recognized a need for a digital art history “registry” (p. 16. http://tinyurl.com/hljld8a) to work against the siloing of knowledge and resources for digital art history to advance in the community at large.
This need continues to be echoed at conferences and symposia, as at “Art History in Digital Dimensions” (http://dah-dimensions.org/), held in October 2016 at the University of Maryland. This event culminated in the publication of a white paper reporting on issues that challenge the growth and sustainability of DAH work. The symposium concluded that core challenges for DAH were Sustainability, hindered by a lack of data management planning, documentation, and an accessible locus for this kind of information, Diversity, both in audience and content, the lack of Translators, who can bridge the gap between technology and art historical scholarship, Training, in tech skills and best practices for web archiving and preservation, and Audience, due to a lack of reach and discoverability.
In 2018, The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) ratified the Digital Art History Directory. After a period of planning and a successful application for funding from the Kress Foundation Digital Art History Grant Program in 2019, construction of the DAHD began in collaboration with the Modern Language Association (MLA). The functional directory launched in September of 2020.
We hope the DAHD, as it continues to grow, will provide scholars with opportunities to make their digital art history work discoverable and will serve as a source of authoritative resources on data sources, archiving and preservation, and common tools for conducting and constructing DAH work. It will help overcome access barriers to audiences for DAH projects, information on technological tools and datasets for researchers, and evolving preservation recommendations for all practitioners. Perhaps most importantly, we hope the DAHD will create a community of practice, inspiring conversation among project owners and across art historians, technologists, and “translators,” and generating study and comparison of an international body of work.
Who we are
The Art Libraries Society of North America, founded in 1972, is an association of art information professionals and visual resource specialists with more than 1,200 members in Canada, the United States, and Mexico and affiliations with peer organizations worldwide. The Society serves as a community of practice for the exploration, cultivation, and sharing of innovative approaches and emerging technologies in art librarianship and to facilitate collaborations across institutions and cultural organizations that promote the informed management, preservation, discovery of authoritative art information, and enhanced appreciation for the value of specialized research collections.
Michelle Wilson, Editor
Digital Publishing Librarian, Columbia University
Samantha Deutch, Community Facilitator
Assistant Director, Center for the History of Collecting at The Frick Art Reference Library
Roger Lawson, ARLIS/NA Editorial Director
Executive Librarian, National Gallery of Art
We are grateful to the Modern Language Association team for their help in conceiving and launching our site and their ongoing hosting and support for the project through our society membership with Humanities Commons.
A Digital Art History grant from the Kress Foundation made this project possible.
We also thank our institutional partners: Duke University’s Wired Digital Art History Lab, The University of Pittsburgh, The Frick Art Reference Library, and Columbia University.