Category Archives: General – 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.

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.

What we’re enjoying online, March 2011

Here is a short list of the art-related websites that we are enjoying currently:

  • Virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel: This amazing site allows users to wander through the interior of the Sistine Chapel in Rome virtually, zooming in on all the frescoes, including Michelangelo’s famous ceiling, his Last Judgement, and many others.
  • The Tate Channel: A dedicated online channel by the Tate Galleries in Britain, featuring interviews with the artists exhibiting in the various spaces, and other items related to exhibitions at the Tate Galleries. See especially the Editor’s Picks.
  • The LIFE magazine photographic online archive: Hosted by Google, this is a collection of millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archives, starting in the 19th century up to the present, which can be browsed, searched and downloaded for free.
  • Rare Book Room: A website that allows users to view all the pages of 400 rare books from all over the world, digitized at very high resolution. Highlights of the collection include this Book of Hours held by the Library of Congress.
  • Ohio University’s Vintage Print Advertising Archive: A small collection of American advertising posters from the 1950s and 1960s, now available online.


Cultúr describes itself as the website of Ireland’s national cultural institutions. The Council of National Cultural Institutions [CNCI] is a statutory body established under the Heritage Fund. The purpose of the Council is to facilitate the pooling together of talent, experience and vision of the Directors of the National Cultural Institutions in furtherance of the national cultural interest. Yikes!

National Irish Visual Arts Library

The National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) is a unique facility with the aim of documenting all aspects of 20th and 21st century contemporary Irish art and design. Providing access to researchers, artists, designers and the general public its collection includes monographs, exhibition catalogues, artists’ books, press releases and newspaper reviews. Increasingly the library has been focusing on digital ephemera and born digital documents. As a partner in the Digital Humanities Observatory it plans to significantly increase its online research resources providing illustrated content alongside the textual indexes in keeping with promoting a policy of maximum accessibility to its holdings.