Summer Institute
Digital Collections. New Methods and Technologies for Art History

Organizer: gta Digital
Date: Sunday, 4 September 2016 to Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Location: Zurich / Lausanne

Collecting, storing, and displaying aesthetic objects have been fundamental practices in art history since its very beginnings. While museums and collections hold the primary artifacts of art history, archives and public institutions safeguard the relevant sources allowing art historians to understand the intellectual, historical, political, and sociological context of both individual works of art and entire collections. For centuries, printed catalogues and handwritten inventories provided authoritative and mostly unique access to entire collections of art works, literally representing their holdings. Likewise, photographic reproductions became substitutes for aesthetic objects in print, in catalogues, and other media. They allowed art historians to establish relations between somehow connected, but distant works of art.

The digital age has dramatically changed the way we obtain information regarding individual works of art and historical sources as well as entire collections, archives and museums. Specialized information in printed catalogues and research publications is competing with more general information from various sources, thus challenging the authority of museums, archives, and academic institutions alike. Under the impact of new technologies, the continuous de- and re-contextualization of digital information might not only change the practices of art historical perception and thinking. The ubiquitous availability of digital images might also challenge the notion of collecting, of the museum and the archive, and not least of objecthood itself. Despite the impact of the digital age and its rapidly changing technologies, art history has not yet changed its fundamental practices and methods when it comes to research regarding collection-based data. Nor has art history as a discipline established new methods for a critical assessment of digital sources.

The Summer Institute on Digital Art History 2016 aims at combining reflections on the methodologies and theories of digital humanities with a practical hands-on experience.

The Summer Institute on Digital Art History Zurich 2016 is generously funded by:The Getty Foundation

Further Information

Website »Digital Collections«


Thomas Hänsli
Leo Zorc