Kress Digital Art History grant

In alliance with the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies (SIMS), the BASIRA Project is on its way to becoming publicly accessible resource, thanks to the generosity of the Kress Foundation. Dr. Nicholas Herman, Curator of Manuscripts at SIMS, is co-PI with B. Williams Ellertson of a recent Kress Digital Art History grant award to the University of Pennsylvania. This funding will make it possible for SIMS staff to convert the BASIRA database from its current restricted, FilemakerPro platform to open-source technology, using the MySQL database engine and the SOLR search engine. The data schema is being re-configured now, and a new user interface will be developed, with robust search capabilities. Since this work will take time, please stay tuned. This writer will endeavor to conquer shyness and make more regular posts about the conversion process over the months ahead.
 The following excerpt from our grant application might be of interest to followers of the BASIRA Project. We listed our intellectual goals this way:
  • To foster interaction between the scholarly fields of art history, book history, and conservation, while also providing a tool that is of interest to specialists of literature, language, religion, paleography, and other allied fields.
  • To provide a scalable platform enabling the systematic study of cultural patterns across time, which can serve as a model for other iconographic survey projects. Previously, portrayals of the book in art have not been made available in an organized fashion, having been collected independently by interested scholars in a fragmented way.
  • To make advanced digital humanities tools available to both academic and non-specialist audiences alike, thereby increasing the accessibility and relevance of Renaissance art outside the walls of museums and repositories.
If you have comments or suggestions to make about any of the above, we would be glad to hear from you.


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