Literature Review & Bibliography

Literature Review:

Art History & the Digital World | Murtha Baca & William Tronzo

In the summer of 2006 the Getty Research Institute (GRI) hosted a work-shop entitled “Art History and the Digital World”. Organized by Murtha Baca, head of the Getty Vocabulary Program and Digital Resource Management at the GRI, and William Tronzo, one of the CAA Board of Directors, the event consisted of about a dozen speakers to consider the wide range of questions in art history which are raised by new technologies. The panel was comprised of professionals from varying subjects of expertise including discussing issues of the current state of University publishers, the rapid growth of media and how that information is being archived and preserved, if necessary, and the heightened role the users now play in academic research (i.e. tagging, social tagging, “folksonomies”). While this is slightly dated, it is interesting to see how far the realms of art history and technology have already merged and what issues we are still struggling with and which we have adapted to. It is due to these early meetings that institutions are now offering programs like DAHL , further facilitating this constantly increasing relationship.

The Web Archivists Are Present, More Podcast Less Process | Jefferson Baily and Joshua Ranger interview Lily Pregill and Alex Thurman

This is a discussion between the hosts and guests on web archiving issues and processes as well as the overall value to cultural heritage institutions. Many of the issues mentioned are still issues today such as rendering video and javascript. These issues can pose questions about access and best practices in archives, especially archives that are weighted with visual elements. One of the main reasons for curating and maintaining a web archiving program is access; when access is not being granted, it poses serious questions and reassessment. The nature of working with Archive-It software as well as web idiosyncrasies are part of the cause of the issues. Another big challenge with archiving websites is metadata. Columbia had 3-4 terabytes of data and NYARC 2 terabytes at the time of the podcast. Columbia also mentions the 233,000 PDFs that would be impossible to catalog manually. These highlight reasons for web archiving as well as difficulties with web archiving. Other important topics mentioned in the podcast are the Momento project, another way of accessing past websites. There is also mention about the right to be forgotten, some don’t want their webpages to be archived, remembered, researched.

Is There a “Digital” Art History | Johanna Drucker

Drucker initially correlates the shift in art history to digital with the shift to theory (more specifically structuralism, post structuralism) from object and how this shook the art history field for quite some time. She believes (as does Gaehtgens) that digital tools purpose is to offer insight and innovation in scholarly practice. That these tools will provide new approaches to research, enhanced curation, networked techniques, simply new ways of thinking. Drucker makes a clear distinction between digitized art history (simply moving something from print to digital) and digital art history (the use of digital humanities tools and more to alter the approach to schoalrship). She sites some significant sources and figures worth mentioning such as Lev Manovich, media theorist and digital humanities pioneer. The importance and game changing effect of the Getty Provenance Index. What used to take months if not years can be done with some simple inquiries. The Perseus Digital Library, her description of which sounds like early start to linked open data. She mentions the project Mapping Gothic France and its ability to offer analytic flexibility. She views digital art history scholarship as offering new starting points rather than end points – a true rethinking of approach with the digital landscape.

Preserving Born-Digital Catalogues Raisonnés: Web Archiving at the New York Art Resources Consortium | Sumitra Duncan

Duncan touches on some of the major issue in web archiving such as link rot and ever changing technologies in websites. Many cultural institutions are struggling to keep up with the number of born-digital resources particularly in the ream of art publications, such as catalogue raisonnés. The value of WARC files is further exemplifies by researchers citations leading to broken links (link rot) and/or content ceasing to exist. One important notation Duncan makes is a reference to sitemaps from authors of websites. this allows web crawlers as well as researcher stop fully access a website so that deep or buried content is not overlooked. This also recalls the assumption many made that the Internet Archive was taking care of archiving the web and while the Internet Archive is attempting to do that the crawlers are not going as “deep” into sites as people had thought which furthers the importance of collaboration, technical development and shareable documentation.

Thoughts on the Digital Future of the Humanities and Art History | Thomas W. Gaehtgens

Gaehtgens addresses resistance to digital coming from traditional attitudes of art historians. He speaks of the importance of two projects helping to propel the field forward to digital: the Getty Research Portal, providing access to key art historical resources and the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative, which serves as a model for museums and cultural heritage institutions to engage with the community by sharing interpretations and analyses of their collections. He argues that Digital Humanities tools can provide new ways of interpreting data and emphasizes the importance of interpretation – that sharing data is not enough. He states, “…they [datasets] become irrelevant if no one has any questions to pull out of this mountain of material” (24). He believes approaching it from a scholarly perspective is key to the success of digital art history. He also believes research will move away from the individual to the collaborative. This last emphasis reminds me of NYARC and the importance of collaboration in museum culture to move forward into a digital art history.

Its Time to Embrace the Present | Deborah Kempe 

Kempe’s article, “Its Time to Embrace the Present”, discusses the need for archives to update their workflows in order to incorporate current digital research trends. She highlights the issues with citing URLs as research material as they may no longer be live in the future, therefore, she argues that it is extremely necessary to cite archived versions of websites so that they may continue to be findable with time. Kempe then discusses NYARC’s role in web archiving, how the foundation came together and what organizations aided in its foundation. This article serves as a good summary of where web archiving started and its transformation since the initial grant.

Web Archiving Environmental Scan | Gail Truman

As the title suggests, this is a broad look at web archiving practices from a range of institutions (23 from around the world) reviewing their collection development, discovery, tools, researcher use and preservation of web archiving collections. A few interesting aspects are one of the longest running programs is over 15 years old and one of the largest collections is close to 800 terabytes (wow!). Another major finding is an emphasis on the need for collaboration, something that has come up again and again when traversing the digital landscape. The scan does not cover for profit institutions and thus there is a focus on library and archives who are doing this sort of work. Another technological need is for an API framework for web archiving tools to work together for content capture and transfer.

Site Bibliography:

Antracoli, Alexis, Steven Duckworth, Judith Silva, & Kristen Yarmey.”Capture All the URLs: First Steps in Web Archiving”, Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice, Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 2014.

Archive-It Team of the Internet Archive: Molly Bragg, Kristine Hanna, “Web Archiving Life Cycle Model“. Report, March 2013 

Bragg, Molly and Kristine Hanna. “The Web Archiving Lifecycle Model.” Report, March 2013.

Baca, Murtha and William Tronzo. “Art History and the Digital World.” Art Journal 65, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 51–55. web accessed: March 7, 2016

Bailey, J. and Ranger, J.  (published 2014, February 24) The Web Archivists Are PresentMore Podcast, Less Process http://podcast. Retrieved from here.

Drucker, J. (2013). Is there a “digital” art history?. Journal of Documentation, 29:1-2, 5-13doi: 10.1080/01973762.2013.761106

Duncan, S. (2015). Preserving born-digital catalogues raisonnés: Web archiving at the New York Art Resources Consortium. Art Libraries Journal, 40(2), 50-55.

Duncan, S. (2016, January 25). Web archiving at the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC). Digital Library Federation blog. Retrieved from

“Frequently Asked Questions: Web Archiving”, NYARC, New York Art Resources Consortium, n.d., web accessed: February 24, 2016.

Gaehtgens, T.W. (2013). Thoughts on the digital future of the humanities and art history. Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, 29:1-2, 22-25. doi: 10.1080/01973762.2013.761110

Kempe, Deborah. “Its Time to Embrace the Present”, Web Archiving Round Table, December 13, 2013, web accessed: March 7, 2016.

Leahy, Sean. “Archive-It and Online Auction Catalogs: A report on the functionality of Archive-It as a tool for harvesting data from auction house websites.” Report, February 2011.

Nadasky, G. (2011). Preserving web-based auction catalogs. Report.

Nadasky, G. (2014).  Preserving web-based auction catalogs at the Frick Art Reference Library. D-Lib Magazine, March/April. web accessed: April 16, 2016.

Sulkow, C. (2016, March 1). The shape of things to come: Archiving the Brooklyn Museum website. NYARC blog. Retrieved from

Truman, G. (2016). WebArchiving environmental scan. Retrieved from here.

Zorich, D. (2013). Digital art history: A community assessment. Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, 29:1-2, 14-21. doi: 10.1080/01973762.2013.761108

Important Publications [to stay current on]:

Archive-It Guide‘s training webinars

The Signal, a Digital Preservation, blog of The Library of Congress

Web Archiving Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists

Above: Man in a Red Cap, Titian,  1510