Oxford University and Artstor announced today that they had reached an agreement whereby Oxford University’s Bodleian Library and Artstor will collaborate on the digitization and distribution through Artstor of approximately 25,000 high quality images of manuscript paintings and drawings from the Bodleian Library’s outstanding collection of medieval and renaissance illuminated western manuscripts.

With more than 10,000 volumes, the Bodleian Library’s Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts has one of the greatest collections of western medieval manuscripts in the world. In recent years, the Bodleian Library has – with support from the Getty Trust – been developing an Electronic Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. The present collaboration with Artstor will build on the foundation laid through that important effort. Through this partnership, Artstor will digitize virtually all of the illuminated manuscript leaves from Bodleian manuscripts through the 16th century, as well as selected 19th and 20th- century manuscripts in the medieval tradition. The project will also selectively include significant bindings, illuminated initials, and text pages. The present collaboration will make this rich body of visual material and related scholarship available online and at high resolution for the first time. The audience for these highly valued materials will include not only art historians and medievalists but also scholars, teachers, and students throughout the humanities and beyond, who will value having the ability to access, browse, and make rich educational and scholarly uses of this unique corpus of images.

In reaching this agreement, Richard Ovenden, Keeper of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, expressed his enthusiasm in collaborating with Artstor and in using digital technologies to make this important scholarly resource more broadly available for noncommercial pedagogical and scholarly purposes. “The Bodleian Library at Oxford is delighted to be working with Artstor in making the tens of thousands of manuscript illuminations in our Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts more widely available to students and researchers in the field.” James Shulman, Artstor’s Executive Director, expressed Artstor’s keen interest in this partnership. “The Bodleian Library’s medieval and renaissance manuscript collections are legendary. We at Artstor are delighted to help make their artistic content more readily available to scholars, teachers and students.”

The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford. It is also a copyright deposit library and its collections are used by scholars from around the world. In addition, the Bodleian consists of nine other libraries, in separate locations in Oxford: the Bodleian Japanese Library, the Bodleian Law Library, the Hooke Library, the Indian Institute Library, the Oriental Institute Library, the Philosophy Library, the Radcliffe Science Library, the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House and the Vere Harmsworth Library.