Project Name: ARTstor

Project URL:

Project Team: James Shulman, President; William W. Ying, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Technology; Joseph Williams, Chief Financial Officer; Vera V. Zlatarski, General Counsel and Secretary; Laura Friedman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing; Nia Monroe, Senior Director of Human Resources; Megan Marler, Director, Strategic Services.

Reviewed by: Michael Lambert

Review Date: 10 March 2015

Tags or Keywords: Artstor, Review, Art, Digital Humanities, Project, DH, Digital Archive, Internet, Web, Resources 

Project Objectives: Artstor is one of the largest digital image archives available to researchers and teachers in existence today. According to the website, “The Artstor Digital Library is a nonprofit resource that provides over 1.8 million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research. [The] community-built collections comprise contributions from outstanding international museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists’ estates.”

Review: After initially accessing the website and browsing the various content that is available within the Artstor archive, I sought reviews from other individuals who were perhaps more familiar with the material available and how best to take advantage of the tools and data that the project offers. The first review that I found helpful outlined the history and timeline of the site, which was “initiated in 2001 by the Mellon Foundation and launched as a non-profit in 2004.”[1] This review, in particular, goes on to explain the target audience that the project was designed for and mentions that a million+ images are available in the archive, which is available to students and faculty to access, organize, analyze, and present digital images.

I was impressed by the volume and scope of the data collected and so began an attempt to find images of various artworks that I have a vested interest in. I found what I was seeking fairly quickly after having registered my academic email address, but still was unable to take full advantage of the full-range of tools available. For example, I was able to view, download, and analyze the data for various images. But, for whatever reason, I found it difficult (read: impossible) to do things like share the images through their system into other programs like PowerPoint, or create automatic citations. This may have been a result of my identity as a dilettante Artstor user, but that is, in itself, rather telling. What I found most useful with the tools that were available was the ability to create advanced searches for images based on factors like specific ranges in time and location.

The project is described as a collaborative effort among the creators, museums, individual photographers, scholars, and others to make these resources available to students and faculty. I soon learned that the images, themselves, are not strictly limited to photographs. Any important image, as deemed by the creators and staff, that might offer insight or elucidate important, artistic endeavor throughout the humanities in fields such as architecture, sculpture, painting, and design are included in addition to photography. Further, Artstor also “collects images of cultural objects more broadly defined, such as musical instruments and music manuscripts.”[2]

The five main components listed on the project website are as follows:

  • Search: browse data by keyword, advanced search, collection, classification, or geography.
  • Sort: sort results by date, creator, or title. Narrow results by location, date, or classification.
  • View: view images and image data.
  • Organize: print and save images, group images, upload and manage personal images and sound files.
  • Share: save and share images, image details, and image groups. Batch download images, in groups of up to 100. Download images to programs to present, such as PowerPoint, etc. Export citation material for images or image groups.[3]

Access: According to the website, “All individuals affiliated with subscribing institutions may use the ARTstor Library. ARTstor will also be available to unaffiliated ‘walk-in’ users at library workstations, where licensing institutions support such access to online library resources. Affiliated and “walk-in” users are not required to pay an additional fee to ARTstor for access to the resource. There is no restriction on the number of users that can access ARTstor at one time. To find out if your institution subscribes to ARTstor, see our list of current participants.”[4]

Cost: The costs associated with the use of the project are pretty sizable and are as follows, “Annual subscriptions for U.S. higher education institutions range from $1200 to $20,000 based on institution size. Annual subscriptions for museums range from $500 to $5000, again based on size. Details are on the ARTstor site.”[5]


System Requirements:

PC Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8
Microsoft IE 7.0+2
Firefox 5.0+
Safari 5.0+
Macintosh3 OS 10.5 (Leopard)
OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
OS 10.7 (Lion)
OS 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
Safari 5.0+
Firefox 5.0+



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1 thought on “ARTstor

  1. Susanna Coleman

    Of course, I immediately searched for “balloon” on Artstor, and I was not disappointed! I found some lovely balloon paintings right away, and I even found some photos of barrage balloons I could use for my DH project. The settings you showed to help narrow down results are also a big help for specific searches. I’m glad to know UA has a subscription, as I think the site could be useful for my research… and just plain fun to browse 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this resource with us!

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