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July 19, 2013

On this day: the Rosetta Stone is discovered

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone; Detail | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone; Detail | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Egyptian | Priestly Decree inscribed in the Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic Scripts, called the Rosetta Stone | 196 BCE | British Museum, United Kingdom | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

On this day in 1799, during Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt, a French soldier discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the Egyptian town of Rosetta (el-Rashid). The stone contained fragments of passages written in ancient Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Egyptian demotic. The section in Greek revealed that the three scripts shared the same content, which provided the key to understanding hieroglyphics, the knowledge of which had disappeared after the end of the fourth century AD.

The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a larger stele, and none of the three texts is complete. But building upon the work of other scholars, French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion was able to crack the code and decipher the hieroglyphics in 1822, opening the doors to understanding the history and culture of ancient Egypt.

This image comes to us from the Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives collection. View the painting in the ARTstor Digital Library, and remember to zoom in to see the scripts in close detail.

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July 18, 2013

Art in context: installation photography

Rollie McKenna, photographer | Installing the exhibition, "The Graphic Work of Edvard Munch." | February 6, 1957 through March 3, 1957 | Photographic Archive; The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York | © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Bono, Oslo

Rollie McKenna, photographer | Installing the exhibition, “The Graphic Work of Edvard Munch.” | February 6, 1957 through March 3, 1957 | Photographic Archive; The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York | © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Bono, Oslo

If you read a review or article about an interesting museum exhibition you missed you can usually find images of the featured artworks. But have you ever wondered how the works were presented, where they were placed? Which pieces were shown together, and in what order? You’re not alone – exhibition design is central in museology, also known as museum studies, which asks how to present exhibitions that engage and enlighten the viewer. It’s also of interest to curators, art historians, and even artists, who often want to see what effect context has on artworks.

The Artstor Digital Library has tens of thousands of exhibition documentation images ranging from the late 19th century to the present from major American institutions. Some of the photographs, as you can see in this post, even show the artworks being installed. Dig into the collections listed below to find many more gems.

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July 1, 2013

Thoughts on the Pride March, past, present, and future

Larry Qualls | Heritage of Pride March, 30th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots | 27 June, 1999 | New York City, NY | Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls

Larry Qualls | Heritage of Pride March, 30th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots | 27 June, 1999 | New York City, NY | Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls

June is Pride Month, and the month in which New York City’s famous annual Pride March parades down Fifth Avenue towards Christopher Street in front of the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the historic Stonewall Riots of 1969. As I meander around Greenwich Village days before the event, I pull out my phone and begin taking unsteady shots of the infamous bar’s sign. Under the rather modest pride flags that border the doorframe (and a printout taped to the window that quotes Obama’s much-feted reference to the riots in his second inaugural speech), I consider how perhaps no one would have suspected this somewhat sleepy locale (granted, it was a Tuesday) would have engendered what would become the national push for pride and equality in LGBTQA communities everywhere.

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July 1, 2013

When It Rains

Bergdorf Goodman | Umbrella;  1974 | Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art | Original data from the Brooklyn Museum

Bergdorf Goodman | Umbrella; 1974 | Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art | Original data from the Brooklyn Museum

Lately in New York (and plenty of other places too), it seems to rain more often than not, and we would be lost without our umbrellas and our rain boots. On June 7, the first tropical storm of this season—whose lilting name Andrea belied her punch—dumped four inches of rain on the city, doubling the record for that day in 1918. Mayor Bloomberg is calling for billions of dollars to shore us up against future events like Andrea, or worse, Sandy.

While we acknowledge the hard truth of climate change, we invite you to pause, take shelter, and consider the upside of rain.

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June 25, 2013

Artstor and the Common Core State Curriculum Standards

Jacob A. Riis | East Side Public Schools 1; ca. 1890 | Museum of the City of New York

Jacob A. Riis | East Side Public Schools 1; ca. 1890 | Museum of the City of New York

When I first joined Artstor, it was from the perspective of an art history and humanities teacher. In my own little niche, the Artstor Digital Library was what one friend called “the candy store for art historians.” As I familiarized myself with the wide array of candy available, I was also building my understanding of the way the Common Core State Curriculum Standards include visual resources in research, analytical, and presentation skills across the K-12 curriculum. It was then that I began to see the Digital Library as the candy store for all of us, including K-12.

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June 17, 2013

Florence: City of the Living, City of the Dead

Lippo di Andrea | Scenes from the Life of Saint Cecilia; detail of Death of the Saint | Santa Maria del Carmine (Florence, Italy) | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com

Lippo di Andrea | Scenes from the Life of Saint Cecilia; detail of Death of the Saint | Santa Maria del Carmine (Florence, Italy) | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; scalarchives.com; artres.com

Anne C. Leader, Professor, SCAD-Atlanta

While the primary motivation for patrons of religious architecture and decoration was to gain or retain God’s grace, Florentine tomb monuments manifest a conflicting mix of piety and social calculation, reflecting tension between Christian humility and social recognition. Though some city churches still house many tombs, most of the thousands of original monuments have been moved, reused, or survive only in fragments. From the mid-thirteenth-century onward, Florence’s churches, both inside and out, were carpeted with floor slabs, coated with wall monuments, banners, and markers, and filled with stone caskets. Benefactors hoped to secure perpetual intercession for their souls, while preserving and promoting their family’s honor, with families typically installing tombs in multiple locations around the city. My research reconstructs the rich mosaic of tomb markers that once covered the floors, walls, and yards of the Florentine cityscape to bring us closer to how Florentines experienced the deaths and memories of their kin, friends, and competitors in the early modern city.

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June 17, 2013

Wrapped Up in Lace: Chantilly

Unknown (French) |Collar (Cape Collar) ; ca. 1835 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unknown (French) |Collar (Cape Collar) ; ca. 1835 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lisa Hartley, Columbus College of Art Design

The small town of Chantilly, France, is home to Chantilly Castle, an architectural wonder of sandstone, antiquated fountains, and enchanting gardens. Here is where lace, my research niche and mild obsession, takes center stage. The traditions and skills used in lacemaking date back to early as the 16th century Europe where the nobility commissioned workers to create dresses, parasols, shawls and gloves in beautiful openwork fabric. Coco Chanel once said, “Lace is one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature,” and we have Chantilly to applaud for its origins.

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June 17, 2013

Washington’s Secret City: Cultural Capital

Luke C. Dilton | Colored Women's League of Washington, D.C.; ca. 1894 | Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress)

Luke C. Dilton | Colored Women’s League of Washington, D.C.; ca. 1894 | Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress)

Amber N. Wiley, Ph.D. , Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture, Tulane University

Historian Constance Green characterized Washington, D.C. in the early 1900s as the “undisputed center of American Negro civilization” in her 1969 book Secret City: History of Race Relations in the Nation’s Capital. This was America before the Harlem Renaissance, in which the average percentile of the capital’s black population ranged from 25-33% throughout the nineteenth century. This population peaked between 1960 and 1990. This black Washington spans from the antebellum period through abolitionism, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Black Power, Parliament’s “Chocolate City,” and the so-called “post-racial” Obama era.

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June 17, 2013

Alexandria, The City

Placido Costanzi |Alexander the Great Founding Alexandria; 1736-1737 | The Walters Art Museum

Placido Costanzi |Alexander the Great Founding Alexandria; 1736-1737 | The Walters Art Museum

Marlene Nakagawa, Undergraduate student at the University of Oregon

During his ongoing series of campaigns, Alexander the Great founded or renamed nearly twenty cities after himself. From Pakistan to Turkey, these cities stood as a representation (as if one was necessary) of his omnipresence in the ancient world. Over the centuries, most of the Alexandrian cities have been destroyed, renamed, or absorbed into other territories. However, west of the Nile Delta stands Alexander’s lasting triumph: Alexandria, Egypt’s largest seaport and a dynamic force in the country’s ancient and modern economy.

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June 17, 2013

Shushtar: A Town to Tame Water

ordered by Shapur I | Dam and Bridge at Shushtar; c. 260 | Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Ordered by Shapur I | Dam and Bridge at Shushtar; c. 260 | Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Peyvand Firouzeh, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge

Aridity in the Islamic world stands in contrast to the well-known landscape architecture of Islamic gardens, where water is used generously and luxuriously. The contrast hints at creative methods of dealing with water scarcity: from man-made canals and reservoirs to cisterns and qanats (subterranean tunnel-wells), examples of which can be seen in my image group, “Water Management in the Islamic World.” These solutions not only responded to the scarcity of water, but also made efficient use of the water that was unusable or inaccessible for agricultural purposes.

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