Category Archives: Digital Images

Glasgow School of Art Digitization Project

An early publication by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other contemporaries connected with the Glasgow School of Art is now available in digital form through VADS, the U.K.’s Visual Arts Data Service. The publication, entitled The Magazine, was handwritten and circulated among Mackintosh and his circle. It consists of four volumes of poetry, essays and illustrations in different media, including pen and ink, watercolour, photogravure and etching, published between 1893 and 1896.

The digitization project developed when the GSA’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh collection was named as a Recognised Collection of National Importance by Museums Galleries  Scotland in 2009. The GSA received £36,988 in recognition grant funding, and this allowed the School to provide conservation for the four volumes of the magazine, and to digitize them with the aim of minimising further damage to their fragile contents.

The entire digitized contents are available for download for educational and research purposes from the VADS collection Glasgow School of Art: The Magazine.

Free digital content from museums

In recent months, several international museums have opened up their digital collections to allow downloads of high resolution images of their artworks. These are some of the best known examples:

Visual Resources in 2012

Happy New Year and welcome to the NCAD VR weblog. 2012 was a very fruitful year for anything related to visual resources for art and design education, both at NCAD and in the world at large. A number of projects expanded the availability of digital images and media for use in education, helping both students and lecturers find the material they need more easily. This post summarises some of those developments of the past year.

The Creative Commons Search: Creative Commons is “a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools”. Their Search allows users to find content that can be freely shared and re-used, through image and media sites such as Europeana, Google Images, Flickr, YouTube, and Wikimedia Commons, from one single interface. CC Search can also be added as a plugin to one’s browser, making the business of finding the right images for a lecture or class project that much easier.

ARTstor Additions: ARTstor continues to expand its digital image content, and has recently focused more on contemporary art and architecture. Among the new collections incorporated into ARTstor in 2012 are the following:

NCAD subscribes to the ARTstor Digital Library. For an introduction to the ARTstor database, see the NCAD Image Libraries  page or contact The Visual Resources Centre in the Library.

BMW Tate Live 2012: Performance Room: Through this project, the Tate Gallery commissioned four artists to perform in Tate Modern’s Performance Room. The performances were broadcast live through the Tate’s YouTube Channel, and are now also available as archive footage to view freely online. The four artists commissioned to perform live in 2012 were Jerome Bel, Pablo Bronstein, Emily Roysdon, and Harrell Fletcher. The series will continue in 2013, starting with Suzanne Lacy’s Silver Action performance on February 3rd between 10 am and 4 pm. By making these events freely available online, Tate Modern is providing an invaluable resource for artists and educators alike.

Google Art Project: This project is a collaboration between Google and 151 museums in 40 countries worldwide, which started in 2011, and expanded considerably in 2012. Using a combination of Google technology and the individual museums’ art expertise, “users can explore a wide range of artworks at brushstroke level detail, take a virtual tour of a museum and even build their own collections to share.” The project is currently making over 30,000 artworks and buildings available, and will continue to grow. Although the images cannot be printed, they can be used for educational purposes. In addition, one thousand project images are now available for download in Wikimedia Commons, and can be used for classroom presentations and assignments.

More Museums Offering Free Digital Images for Education: 2012 saw an expansion in the number of museums worlwide who are opening their collections to the public online by offering high-resolution digital images of thousands of their artworks. These include the Rijksmuseum’s Rijksstudio, which offers high-resolution images of 125,000 artworks from their collection; the Prado Museum’s Online Gallery, which allows access to over 1000 high-resolution images; the British Museum’s Collection Database Search, which provides free access to over 700,000 images of objects from the museum, allowing free downloads for educational use and scholarly publication; the National Gallery of Art’s NGA Images, which “offers more than 22,000 open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each, available free of charge for download and use”; or The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which has made over 18,000 digital images of artworks in its collection available for download from Wikimedia Commons. Since many of these museums are funded through people’s taxes, these initiatives to share their collections more widely are particularly welcome.

Visual Resources for VISCOM Students

Visual Communication students can find several titles and databases in the Visual Resources Centre which are relevant to your course, including:

DVDs: The Library has a collection of over 2000 DVD titles, including documentaries on all aspects of art and design, as well as feature films. The following titles are particularly relevant for the VISCOM curriculum:

Titles about graphic design and typography

Gary Hustwit: Helvetica (U.K., 2007)

Feature films with title sequences by famous designers such as Saul Bass:

Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest (U.S., 1959)
Martin Scorsese: Goodfellas

ARTstor: A vast collection of over one million digital images of all periods of art and design. You can find the NCAD guide to using ARTstor here.

ARTstor has several collections which are relevant to VISCOM, including the Graphic Design and Illustration Collection, which has over 13,000 images, and the Graphic Design collection at MOMA, with over 2,000 images.

NCAD Image Library: Our own local collection of digital images used by NCAD lecturers. You can find a guide to the NCAD Image Library here.

To browse images related to visual communication, select Graphic Design (Visual Communication) from the Classification drop-down list, and click on Find.

Visual Resources for CORE year students

The Visual Resources Centre has DVDs and image databases which can be of great help when finishing studio assignments or writing essays. This is a sample of some of them:

ARTstor: A database with over one million images of all periods in the history of art and design. You can find our own NCAD user guide to ARTstor here. To see examples of artworks in the ARTstor database, click on Browse>Featured Groups>Art history topics, and also in the CORE folder within NCAD’s institutional folders, which can be found in Open image group>Institutional folders>CORE. ARTstor is a great source of inspiration for all your studio projects, well worth a try.

NCAD Digital Image Library: A database of over 7000 images digitised for NCAD lectures. the collection is strong on contemporary art and Irish artists. You can find a user guide for the NCAD Digital Image Database here.

DVDs: Our DVD collection has titles for everyone’s taste, including:

DVDs on specific artists, such as Salvador Dalí or Marcus Coates

Television series on all aspects of art

Documentaries on almost anything, from extraordinary animals to extraordinary humans


And, of course, movies, movies, and more movies….


To find titles from the DVD collection in the NCAD Library Catalogue, key in the word ‘videorecording’. This will give you a list of everything we have in DVD form. – the ‘Art Genome’?

A newly launched website,, has as its mission to make all of the world’s art available to anyone with an internet connection. The website is powered by The Art Genome Project, a collaboration between art historians and computer scientists which studies the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art. The technology behind it is mostly open source, and for those interested in the techie side of it, the Engineering Blog has all the information one could possibly need. The important part, however, is that The Art Genome is a giant taxonomy of art-related concepts. There has been some controversy about the way the project relates artists and artworks – some artists are unhappy about how their work is being categorised-, but the scale of the work, and the combination of art-historical research and computer science is fascinating, and it will be interesting to see whether, as the project grows, the genomes and the relationships they establish between artists and artworks continue to be as meaningful.

The site is particularly strong on contemporary art. Looking at their Browse categories, one can look at artworks by style, contemporary art, subject, medium or technique, and region. Clicking on Conceptualism produces 2,516 results, with artists as varied as Tracey Emin and Ai Wei Wei. The quality of the images is excellent and, although the site’s licensing agreements with their artwork image providers do not allow for image downloads, simply browsing through the site is a great way of learning about art. is also establishing collaborations with contemporary artists, such as this short video of artist Cai Guo Qiang’s work, Sky Ladder. is certainly a project to watch, and a great source of inspiration for art students.

Photos from Kodak’s Picture Contests

Still Life. 1929

Photos from Kodak’s Picture Contests in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s –

Here at the Visual Resources Centre we love old black and white photographs. This post from the New York Times “Lens” blog talks about the fantastic collection of photographs submitted to “Kodak Picture Contests” during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, which are now kept in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation of the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester in New York State. The post has a  slide show  of some of the most interesting photos, and explains the background to those picture contests: Kodak was trying to encourage consumers to buy their cameras and film stock by organising the contests. It is a bit shocking to realise that at present the company are under bankruptcy protection.

The photographs are a fascinating record of life in the United States, and also some other parts of the world, during these three decades. Specially interesting are photographs of New York in the 1930s. The variety of subjects, and the technical competence of these amateur photographers are impressive. One could consider this archive of photographs from Kodak contests as an older and smaller equivalent of Flickr, recording everyday life of that period in all its richness.

Welcome to all students

The new academic term is about to start, and here at the Visual Resources Centre we want to welcome back all NCAD students and staff. It has been a busy summer, with many new developments in Visual Resources.

Videos/ DVDs: We have a great collection of DVDs, including both feature films and art documentaries. The online library catalogue now has records of ALL our DVDs, with information about their availability. Just type in a keyword of your choice (say, the name of an artist or filmmaker), and add the word “videorecording”. The results will show you relevant titles, and when you click on a title you will be given further information about it, including where it is and whether it can be borrowed. Also, keep an eye on this blog for lists of new titles added to the collection.

ARTstor Image Library: NCAD subscribes to ARTstor, a library of over one million images of art and design subjects, including painting, sculpture, architecture, print, visual communication, textiles, fashion, ceramics, glass, matalwork, and industrial design. With ARTstor you can:

  • Filter search results by Time Period, Classification, and Geography
  • Choose the number of thumbnails displayed
  • Mouse-over to view larger images
  • Use ARTstor Mobile for iPad, iPod touch, iPhone
  • Batch download to PowerPoint

For a quick introduction to ARTstor, visit us at the Visual Resources Centre in the Library and we will give you a 15-minute tour of the database on the spot.

NCAD Image Library: We also have our own image library, consisting of over 7,000 images of art and design subjects, with more specific focus on Irish artists. To gain access to the NCAD Image Library, contact the Visual Resources Librarian for a username and password.

One Million Digital Images Available on ARTstor Mobile

If you are a student at NCAD, you can access over one million images through the ARTstor Digital Library. All you have to do is come to the Visual Resources Centre in the Library to register with ARTstor. Once you have done that, you will be able to access this digital library from any computer in or outside the college. You can browse or search for images, save image groups, and download them individually or as a group for your essays and college projects. To learn more about ARTstor, check our NCAD Image Libraries page. The images are much better quality than what you can find normally online.

In the past week, ARTstor has become available on the following mobile platforms: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. ARTstor Mobile allows you to search, browse and zoom into your image results. Try it and let us know what you think by commenting on this post.

Digital Hermitage

Check out the Hermitage’s Digital Collection, the new virtual gallery of high-resolution artwork images from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Find artwork by selecting colors from a palette or by sketching shapes on a canvas. Or, refine existing search results by requesting all artwork with comparable visual attributes. Alternatively use the Advanced Search to find artwork by artist, title, or subject, or by certain attributes such as style, genre, theme, or date.