Mezzotint of a firework machine used on July 7, 1713 in London (1713) (via Getty Research Institute)

Mezzotint of a firework machine used on July 7, 1713, in London (1713) (via Getty Research Institute)

Getting museum and library archives digitized is one thing; uniting them on a platform that’s uniform and accessible is another. Last year the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) launched in order to bring institutions like the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian, and numerous other partners together in a single online space. Last week, the Getty Research Institute announced that it was adding metadata for over 100,000 image and text records focused on art history to the DPLA.

Kathleen Salomon wrote at the Getty’s online magazine Iris:

The DPLA and the Getty share a commitment to making cultural materials ever more widely and freely available through technology. To make real the DPLA’s vision of “open and coherent access to our society’s digitized cultural heritage,” cultural institutions must actively digitize, catalogue, and publish their knowledge resources. But equally, they must make these resources readily accessible for myriad new uses.

The items, which date back to the 15th century, all come from the Getty Research Institute’s library and special collections, with a concentration on visual culture. While there are oddities, such as a miniature theater featuring hand-colored lithographic prints of a man’s journey to Egypt and China in the 19th century, what might be most valuable for researchers are lists like the ledgers of art dealers and painting inventories, as well as correspondence like Edouard Manet’s letters. There are also historic illustrated travelogues, including an 1830 sketchbook of Pompeii and a report on the arts and crafts of Jerusalem from 1918. Yet most stunning of all are the over 5,500 images from the late architectural photographer Julius Shulman’s archives, an integral record of modernist design and his influential visual eye.

The Getty Research Institute will continue to add more in the partnership, and also this month, the Medical Heritage Library and the US Government Printing Office contributed thousands of items to the DPLA. The collection’s ultimate worth will, of course, come from how these resources are used, but the DPLA is quickly becoming essential for the growing digitized archives.

“Il faut danser!” (~1797), etching (via Getty Research Institute)

Albert Smith’s miniature theater with lithographic views of Egypt and China (1859) (via Getty Research Institute)

Illustration from Sir William Gell’s 1830 Pompeii sketchbook (via Getty Research Institute)

View all of the Getty Research Institute’s visual history items on the Digital Public Library of America.

The Latest

Required Reading

This week, the Getty Museum is returning ancient terracottas to Italy, parsing an antisemitic mural at Documenta, an ancient gold find in Denmark, a new puritanism, slavery in early Christianity, and much more.

Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...