Dictionary of Art Historians

The Dictionary of Art Historians (DAH) is a privately funded and free to access bibliographical dictionary of historians of western art. It began in 1986 as a  project (on notecards!) to index the historians cited in four major art history works. It was inputted electronically in 1996 and was migrated online in 2002. In early 2010, it became associated with the Duke University Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies.

Its mission is to compile documented facts about an art historian’s life to better understand specific texts. Compiling art historians mentioned in major art historiographies, can serve as a starting point for research. Inclusion in the dictionary is due to inclusion in the historiographies, and not the choice of the editors of the DAH. A bibliography is provided so users can look for source works.

The mission and explanation pages give a history of the project. The explanation content is also provided in German, French, Dutch, and Italian.

It uses a Creative Commons license that stipulates the DAH must be cited, and there is a convenient page which shows how to cite the source using a variety of citation methods.

The navigation bar at the top provides a link to the complete list of art historians as well as a list of recent entries and their status. There is also a search bar, provided through Google Search, so users can search a specific historian.

Sorensen, Lee. "Heinrich, Schwarz." Dictionary of Art Historians (6 June 2013).

Sorensen, Lee. “Heinrich, Schwarz.” Dictionary of Art Historians (6 June 2013).

Though some entries will be more complete than others, a typical entry contains as much bibliographic information as possible (including, for example, birth date and place, home country, and death date and place). A biography is next, and is cross referenced to other art historians in the dictionary. Lastly, a bibliography of works is included.

Though very light on graphics, this is an excellent source to begin research into the scholars who have written about western art history. Learning about the historians behind the histories can be a daunting task, and this resource provides a unique and easy to navigate starting point.

Art:21 – Art in the 21st Century


Art:21 is a PBS series created by a nonprofit organization featuring contemporary visual art and artists.  It is ideal for not only educational and archival purposes but for those who are unfamiliar with contemporary art and are interested in learning more. The series provides a wide scope of  international artists at work, including Kara Walker, Ai Wei Wei, El Anatsui and many more, along with exclusive interviews regarding the process behind their creation. It demonstrates how by giving art a new form, contemporary art has the power to alter perception and create moments of representation of our time. The goal of the series is to inspire creativity, challenge our views of the world and raise awareness of the major artists in the world of contemporary art.

All 6 seasons of Art:21 are available in the Ivey VRL Film Collection. You can watch segments and previews of the episodes on the PBS website and check out the Art21 Magazine blog for updates of their Weekly Roundup featuring new artwork and exhibitions.

Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

Last month, participants around the world gathered to improve Wikipedia’s representation of female artists through a project known as the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. With the help of more than 600 volunteers from United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, up to 100 new entries were added to the online encyclopedia, and 80 more were further enhanced.

In 2010, a Wikimedia survey revealed that less than 13% of its contributors were female, and this gender imbalance has caused an upstir in a a society that values equality.

The global initiate strives for a gender movement in the persistent bias in an increasingly influential encyclopedia, Wikipedia. A former Masters student of the Visual Arts Department at Western University, Siân Evans, was one of the organizers of the event held at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York City. With the help of more than 600 volunteers from United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, up to 100 new entries were added and 80 more were modified during the simultaneous edit.

This initiative has captured the attention of the public eye, and has stirred controversy in the media. Although the online encyclopedia is becoming increasingly influential, some question whether if it is the best place to promote women in art and worthy of such efforts as The Guardian reported the project “epitomizes why Wikipedia is a corrupting force and why it is eroding the world’s intellect”. Other news outlets praise the effort aimed at raising awareness to present a more accurate and diverse representation of the art world. Many complex factors contribute to the low rate of female artists on Wikipedia, and the Edit-A-Thon has been able to equip many with the skills to edit Wikipedia pages independently.

The Online Art Book Project

A project of the Art Canada Institute, the Online Art Book Project aims to release six to twelve art books each year. These books will focus on topics such as key Canadian artists and topics and themes in Canadian visual art. This fits in with the ACI’s mandate of working toward a central digital archive of information about Canadian art and artists.

On the landing page, you can see both the books that are available, and upcoming works (into 2015). Once you click on the book you want, it takes you to the home page for the work.

Home page for Michael Snow: Life & Work by Martha Langford. Part of the Online Art Book Project, hosted by the Art Canada Institute. Screen capture taken May 8, 2014.

Home page for Michael Snow: Life & Work by Martha Langford. Part of the Online Art Book Project, hosted by the Art Canada Institute. Screen capture taken May 8, 2014.

Michael Snow: Life & Work by Martha Langford was released in March 2014. The home page for the book allows you to download the book as a pdf or begin reading the book online. Of note is the option to view both the online version and the pdf in French.

The pdf is in full colour, and is DRM-free (allowing for use wherever you need it). One downside of the pdf is that it does not have a built in navigation table of contents, making it cumbersome to jump to sections you need. The option to read online is a welcome addition, as it allows you to choose which section you would like to browse (via a menu bar).

Example of navigation menu for Michael Snow: Life & Work by Martha Langford. Screen capture taken March 8, 2014.

Example of navigation menu for Michael Snow: Life & Work by Martha Langford. Screen capture taken March 8, 2014.

The text includes links to other ACI pages, where applicable. For example, a link is provided to give more detail about Authorization, a photographic work that the National Gallery of Canada acquired. Links to share the work via Twitter, Facebook, and email are provided along the side of the page.

Though new, this is an excellent initiative by the ACI to start to disseminate information about key Canadian artists. It is ambitious, having books planned into 2015, and allows for a bilingual experience. I also appreciate the options to either use a DRM-free pdf or a more interactive web-based book. This is a fantastic place to check for works on Canadian artists, and I hope it continues well beyond 2015!


Are you interested in learning more about a particular Canadian artist? Do you need to find information about an exhibition that took place in Canada after 1965?

Look no further than e-Artexte, a library catalogue that contains over 23,000 records for contemporary Canadian art publications.


In addition to being a robust reference tool, e-Artexte functions as a digital repository that houses exhibition catalogues, critical essays, magazine/journal articles, conference papers and artist-initiated publications. Look for the PDF symbol to download the full-text document.

Virtual Exhibitions

What are they?

Virtual exhibitions are curated online spaces that have become increasingly popular in recent years among museums, educators, art galleries and other cultural institutions. With a virtual exhibition, there is no need to worry about hours of operation or trying to visit a different city (or country!) every month. In some cases, virtual exhibitions go beyond simply presenting cultural objects in an online format; they are designed to make the visitor feel as though they are actually walking through an exhibition space (for an example of this, check out the Valentino Museum).

Why are they important?

Virtual exhibitions are important because they can be used to promote artistic, cultural and historical information through the web. Individuals from all over the world can access a wealth of knowledge through this kind of visual resource.

How do you make them?

Listed below are a number of free applications that can be used to make virtual exhibitions.

ArtSteps is a website that gives users various room layouts while also providing a customizable option. You can configure the gallery space, select a colour scheme and upload your own photos. The resulting gallery can be shared through different social media platforms and easily embedded into blogs.

VAS- Virtual Art Space is similar to ArtSteps insofar as users can customize a gallery space and upload content, however, it boasts a simpler user interface.

Google Open Gallery requires users to request an invitation, which may take a few days. While the interface is clean and visually pleasing, users are not given the option to customize a gallery space. Instead, each image is presented alone, with a zoom feature and description.

Examples of Virtual Exhibitions:

1. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has created a number of virtual exhibits for their collections. Mansion Madness: Mystery at Gyppeswyck and Exploring Japan are particularly informative and navigable.

2. The Katharine MacLennan exhibit created by The Beaton Institute, Cape Breton Regional Library, Fortress of Louisbourg Association and Parks Canada.

3. The 1812 Virtual Exhibition developed by the Canadian War Museum.


Carmo, Maria Beatriz and Ana Paula Claudio. “3D Virtual Exhibitions.” Journal of Library and Information Technology. 33.3 (May 2013): 222-235.

Sabharwal, Arjun. “Digital Representation of Disability History: Developing a Virtual Exhibition.” Archival Issues. 34.1 (2012): 7-26.

Getty Images Unveils Innovative Embed Feature

The world’s largest photo service, Getty Images, made a big announcement today! All 35 million Getty images have been removed of their watermarks. Now anyone can use embed codes to display images for non-commercial purposes on blogs and social media sites, free of charge and without worry of legal consequences.

To post an image, simply click on the “embed” icon (</>), copy the link provided, and paste away. For a step-by-step tutorial, check out the Getty Images website, or jump right in and start searching here.