Category Archives: collections

Works of an Architect of the State

Not all architects enjoy the quiet, unfashionable life of a government employee, but Alfred Eichler, a state architect for California from 1925-1963, had a prolific career. His works encompass a broad range of programs necessitated by American westward expansion and the rise of Depression-era societal needs. He designed and conceptualized state-sponsored building projects, from prisons and state hospitals, to educational facilities and more during his tenure.

His many paintings, concept sketches and renderings are on record at the California State Archives, but can also be accessed through the Google Arts & Culture platform: a browsable selection of museum exhibitions, photography collections, masters paintings and other curated works from around the world.

Source: Google Arts & Culture

Louvre Hopes to Find Rightful Owners of Paintings

Image Credit:

In an effort to find the rightful owners of hundreds of works of art, the Louvre is displaying paintings stolen by Nazis during the occupation of France in the 1940s. Currently, 31 paintings are hanging in two rooms of the museum, on permanent display until their heirs are found. This is just a small portion of the 296 works held by the Louvre, and an even smaller percentage of the paintings left to be returned. An estimated 100,000 were looted in total, with 60,000 given back immediately after the war. Other museums, including the Musee d’Orsay and the Chateau de Versailles, have custody of some of the remaining works.

It’s a long process, however, to turn over the paintings, and in 2012, the French government established a working group to handle it. Those stepping forward to claim their families’ possessions must provide proof in the form of receipts, photographs or testimonies and verification can take years. The government maintains a database for this National Museum Recuperation effort, known as the Rose Valland List, named after a French curator who risked her life to keep notes on the stolen artwork.

Source: The Telegraph and Dazed

Focus on Landscape Architecture: UT Austin Herbarium

The Plant Resources Center (PRC) at The University of Texas at Austin is hidden in plain sight: it occupies eight floors of the iconic UT Tower with over one million plant specimens. These specimens belong to both the University of Texas Herbarium (TEX), which was started in the 1890s, and the Lundell Herbarium (LL), the formerly private collection of Cyrus Lundell, which was added to the PRC in the 1970s-80s.

An herbarium is a library of dried plants. The specimens, collected from Texas, Mexico and other parts of the world, are dehydrated and pressed onto cardstock and labeled with their relevant information, including date collected and species name. These specimens provide a snapshot of a particular species’ morphology and taxonomy at a particular time and place on Earth. Many of UT’s specimens are unique in the world.

You can access the PRC online through a searchable database, or visit the collection in person.

The PRC and associated herbaria are located in the Main Building, Room 127. Hours are 8-11:30 am and 12:30-5 pm Monday-Friday. Please call in advance at 512-471-5904.

Sources: UT Department of Integrative Biology and JSTOR Global Plants

Focus on Landscape Architecture: Global Plants Database

Part of the online research and academic platform JSTOR, the Global Plants database allows access to nearly three million images dedicated to plants. Containing digitized plant specimens, paintings, photographs, diaries and other materials from universities, herbaria and private collectors around the world, Global Plants is a resource for anyone conducting botanical-related research or design. Whether you’re interested in the history of a plant, its uses in human culture, or its morphological characteristics, Global Plants provides a searchable database for you to access primary sources related to your query. You must have access to JSTOR, either through the University of Texas Libraries or through your own subscription to be able to use the Global Plants database.

One of the partners and contributors to the Global Plants database is The Plant Resources Center at The University of Texas at Austin, which will be featured later this week on Deep Focus

Source: JSTOR and Global Plants

Documenting Glass

Founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York has donated 2,784 images documenting its unique glass collection to the Artstor Digital Library. The non-profit museum is dedicated to telling the story of glass, from its ancient origins to today, spanning 3,500 years of glass history. With support from the Rakow Research Museum, the museum is a center for glass scholarship, housing the world’s foremost archive and reference collection on the history of glass making.

Source: The Artstor Blog

Thousands of Free Movies though Kanopy

Photo Credit: Watching “The Great Beauty,” “I Am Not Your Negro” and “Tower.”Janus Films; Magnolia Pictures; Kino Lorber

Over 200 public libraries have opted to provide Kanopy to library cardholders, free of charge. Kanopy provides over 30,000 movies online. Many of the movies are documentaries, international films, and from the Criterion Collection. The University of Texas Libraries’ provides unlimited access to Kanopy’s resources. The range of movies available is diverse, and Kanopy appears to be an incredible resource.

Source: Watching

SFMOMA Sends Images of Art to Match your Mood

Photo Credit: Observer

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will send you an image of a work in its collection based on your desire by texting one’s request to 572-51. Only 5 percent of SFMOMA’s collection is exhibited at any given time, but the message service pulls from the entire collection of 34,678 works of art, allowing one to view works based on individual taste. The message service has a few kinks, and it cannot evaluate complex sentences, but the range of artwork and efficiency of the service is phenomenal.

Source: Observer

Curious, Persuasive Maps

Photo Credit: Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection

JP Mode has donated a collection of maps that explore the capacity of persuasion to Cornell University Library’s Rare Manuscript Collections. The maps are accessible from Cornell via Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Model Collection. The collection is also freely accessible in Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons. The maps comprising this collection—many are from significant political eras like World War II—are unique because they all contain examples of visual persuasion or propaganda.

Source: Artstor

Loaning More than Books

There has been a recent surge in the number of libraries that allow patrons to check out more than merely books. 99 Percent Invisible reports that the Sacramento Public Library now loans objects such as “a laminating machine, music instruments, digital cameras, sewing machines and other appliances and technologies.” Many libraries across the country have joined this craze, beginning to check out seeds, tools, and more.

Source: 99 Percent Invisible

Visit Exhibitions from the Past with MoMA’s New Archive

Image Credit: MoMA

Image Credit: MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art has released a digital image archive that contains images of exhibitions from the museum’s opening in 1929 to today. Featuring more than 33,000 photographs, press releases, catalogues, and more, the archive is free-of-charge to use and provides an in-depth look at the MoMA’s rich history. This archive provides context that will allow for a deeper understanding of the place of modern art in our society. Search the collection on MoMA’s website here.

Source: ArtForum


The Getty Research Portal: A Digitized Art Historical Goldmine

Image Credit: The Iris

Image Credit: The Iris

The Getty Research Portal, a free, online database that grants the public access to digitized art historical texts, now exceeds 100,000 volumes. In addition to plentiful research resources, the portal has also reconfigured its searching capabilities to allow for improved ease of use. It has also recently incorporated new contributions from major libraries, including the Menil Collection Library in Houston.

Source: The Iris: Behind the Scenes at the Getty

The Rest of the Collection

Birds collections from the Department of Vertebrate Zoology are displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. In the foreground is Roxie Laybourne, a feather identification expert.

The National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC contains 90% of the Smithsonian Institute’s collections, totaling over 126 million cataloged items. The collection is essential to understanding the natural world and our relationship to it. Like most museums, libraries and archives, the majority of the collection is housed in storage; however, it is available to researchers. The ability to effectively research archived collections is essential to furthering study in nearly ever discipline, from botany to architecture.

Source: National Museum of Natural History