Image of a map on a grey background i Detailed map of the Mountain Estate to Escape the Heat during the eighteenth century. Map created by Daniel P. Huffman, Kirrily White, and Stephen H. Whiteman.

Digital Art History Research Group

The Digital Art History Research Group organizes discussions around the use of digital and computational methods in the histories of art and architecture and in conservation.

From the building of newly accessible archives to new possibilities in art historical analysis, digital tools and methods have transformed transformed not just the way art historical research is done but even the types of questions we ask and the way we think about our objects. Rather than supplanting analog research and the material object, the digital complements our established methods, expanding the field, offering unprecedented access to materials and conversations, and foregrounding the possibilities of trans-disciplinary collaboration.

#DAHRG’s annual schedule of events includes lectures, seminar discussions, and practical workshops aimed at fostering discussion around the possibilities of digital methods and tools, and introducing colleagues to their application and use.

#DAHRG welcomes members from across the Courtauld’s research community, including staff, PhDs, and MAs.


Convener: Dr Stephen Whiteman.

Digital Art History Research Group Events

Digital Art History Workshop: Introduction to Spatial Modelling for Art Historical Research

7th – 10th June 2022

Convenors: Pedro Luengo (Universidad de Sevilla) and Stephen Whiteman (The Courtauld)

The digital and spatial turns in the Humanities have offered productive new methodological opportunities to the study of art and architectural history: architectural historians have begun to think about space and its reconstruction in new ways, while art historians have sought to resituate the objects of their study within spatial contexts. Of particular use has been the emergence of digital mapping and three-dimensional modelling, which has enabled scholars to better visualize inaccessible built environments and ask new research questions of their digital surrogates.

This four-day workshop for PhD students introduced digital modelling for art and art historical research. Topics included the question of why we may wish to model; current software in modelling; in-depth introductory training in a leading modelling software; and ethical and methodological issues in modelling, among others. The week included lab time for practical work developing a model directly related to each participant’s research and ongoing discussions of the participants’ research.

Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series 2021-22: Art History Future - At the Junction of the Digital and Material Turns

This lecture series presents work from leading researchers who are using digital methods in art history and technical art history/conservation to think in new ways about our disciplines. It explores how the digital and computational can be used to advance research and teaching at the Courtauld and in the field, and how new forms of data and digital methods are changing the questions art historians and conservators are asking by casting methodological and ethical concerns in a new light. Finally, it highlights questions of issues of equity, access, collaboration, and community building that are raised through the often disparate networks of DAH, and which are also broader concerns of teaching and research in the contemporary university.

Many assume that the digital is somehow oppositional to the material, and that digital approaches risk alienating us from the objects of our enquiries. As such, The Courtauld, with its venerable tradition of materially-oriented scholarship, may seem like an odd fit for digital methodologies. This series will explore how the digital changes our relationship to the object—indeed, how it estranges us from the object in the literal sense of the word, making it once again strange or new, thereby opening new paths of enquiry to the researcher. With its true strengths in Conservation and innovative art history, the Courtauld is uniquely well-positioned to stage a discussion about forms of close looking and engagement enabled by the digital, often in very nuanced relationship with more “traditional” methodological approaches.

Events in the series 

Tuesday 19th October 2021, 6.00pm – 8.00pm 
Dr Emily Pugh 
Digital Imaging as Disciplinary Practice: Photography and Art History

Tuesday 23rd November 2021, 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Alison Killing
Investigating Xinjiang’s network of detention camps: digital mapping and architectural investigations

Tuesday 18th January 2022, 6.00pm – 8.00pm 
Tim Clark and Dominic Oldman 
The Development of Historical Digital Methods: Late Hokusai as case study

Tuesday 15th February 20221, 6.00pm – 8.00pm 
Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi 
Mapping Senufo: Digital Data, Ambiguous Details, and an Artist’s Intervention

Tuesday 8th March 2022, 6.00pm – 8.00pm 
Professor Paul Jaskot
Digital Art History as Social Art History: Working through Architecture and the Built Environment of Krakow During Nazi Occupation

The Art of Losing: A Wishlist for Responsible Digitization

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Speaker: Emma Stanford – Bodleian Libraries

Organised by: Dr Fern Insh – Courtauld Institute of Art

Emma Stanford’s keynote seminar is the first #DAHRG event of 2017/18!

What makes a good digital surrogate? How do we minimize and mitigate the loss of fidelity inherent in digitization? Is it possible to create digitized resources that accommodate not only current research needs but future ones? Using case studies from the past 25 years of digitization and from the longer history of visual and textual reproduction, this lecture will explore the weaknesses and strengths of digital reproduction, survey current efforts to create richer digitized resources, and discuss the difficulties these efforts face. In this context, the lecture will propose a wishlist for the responsible creation and curation of digital surrogates, emphasizing linked, machine-readable metadata, an interoperable and standardized discovery interface, high-quality images that acknowledge the original object’s multidimensionality, and the facilitation of scholarly interaction with and enrichment of the object.


As the Bodleian Libraries’ Digital Curator, Emma Stanford oversees a portfolio of digitization projects, plans future projects, and manages Digital.Bodleian, the Libraries’ digital collections portal. She also conducts scholarly outreach and user studies for Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services. She is primarily interested in enabling discovery of and engagement with digital resources across a wide range of users. She holds an MSc in Library Science from City, University of London, and a B.A. from Middlebury College.

Transforming Art History in the Digital Revolution

Monday 12 June 2017

Speaker: Prof. Caroline Bruzelius – Duke University

Organised by: Dr Fern Insh – Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld’s new Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG) is pleased to welcome Professor Caroline Bruzelius to give the second of the group’s keynote seminar.

The History of Art is a discipline uniquely well-suited to digital technologies.  We can now, for example, create provenance databases, map the trajectories of objects, model changes to buildings and cities, recreate lost monuments and reconstruct the setting of an altarpiece. Above all, digital technologies have the capacity to democratize the discipline, engaging the public in narratives about works of art, buildings, and cities in a way that was previously not possible.

This potential offers the potential of new roles for art historians as mediators between the mute object (or building, or city) and the public, expanding our role as teachers and scholars into the community.  In this talk, Bruzelius will engage with several public-facing projects that she has been engaged in (Visualizing Venice, The Kingdom of Sicily Image Database; the Sarlat Âpostles Color Project) to reflect upon the ways in which technology can transform experiences of seeing and being in the world.

Caroline Bruzelius is a scholar of medieval architecture in France and Italy, publishing books and articles on French Gothic architecture (the Cistercians; St.-Denis; Notre-Dame in Paris), the medieval churches of Naples, and the architecture of women religious orders and the mendicant orders.  Her most recent book, Preaching, Building and Burying.  Friars in the Medieval City (Yale University Press, 2014), focuses on how the mendicant practices of outdoor preaching, visiting homes, and burying laymen in convents affected the design, construction, and urban impact of massive convents such as Sta. Croce in Florence, St. Anthony’s in Padua, and the Frari in Venice.

Bruzelius is also a pioneer in exploring how digital technologies can communicate narratives about works of art and the built environment.  She is a founding member of the Wired! laboratory at Duke University, a group of faculty and graduate students who integrate visualization technologies with teaching and multi-year research initiatives, such as Visualizing Venice.

From 1994 to 1998 Bruzelius was Director of the American Academy in Rome.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of Antiquaries, the Medieval Academy of America, and has received numerous research fellowships in the United States and abroad.

This is the second of #DAHRG’s keynote seminars. You can watch the group’s first, given by Prof. Martin Eve (Birkbeck), here

Digital Art History: Practice and Potential

11 October 2017

On Wednesday 11 October, #DAHRG will move over to the Paul Mellon Centre for the day and cohost the Digital Art History: Practice and Potential conference with the Early Career Researchers in British Art network. 


9.30-10.00: Registration and Introduction | Paul Mellon Centre


PANEL 1Practice: Exploring the nexus of digital technologies and art historical research

Élodie Gössant- Reconstructing a lost country house: the case of Erlestoke Park (Wiltshire)

Phillippa Plock & Colette Warbrick- Digital/ized art history at Waddesdon Manor

Shu-Chi Shen- Revisualising, Reconstructing and Recreating: the Case Study on a Digital Exhibition in the National Palace Museum, Taipei.

11.30-12.00: Comfort Break


PANEL 2 Potential: Evolution and synthesis of art historical methodologies

Nirmalie Alexandra Mulloli & Christina Bartosch – Exhibitions of Modern European Art 1905-1915 – Building metadata to reveal artist exhibition strategies and advance theoretical possibilities of exhibition spaces.

Ricarda Brosch & Adam Knight- The Quantitative Turn: Big Data Ethics in Digital Art History

Rosário Salema de Carvalho & Inês Aguiar- Match! Image recognition issues on Az Infinitum – Azulejo Indexation and Referencing System

1.30-2.30: Lunch


Workshop Session – App Building for History and Heritage |  Fern Insh (Sackler Digital Research and Engagement Fellow, Courtauld Institute of Art, #DAHRG)

3.30-4.00: Comfort Break


Roundtable Discussion: Early Career Researchers’ role in developing digital practice


Lecture – The Art of Losing: A Wishlist for Responsible Digitization | Emma Stanford (Digital Curator Bodleian Library, Oxford) | Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Courtald Institute of Art

7.15-8.00: Reception | Foyer, Courtald Institute of Art

In the evening, we will celebrate the day’s activities with the first of the 2017/2018 #DAHRG keynote lectures. This will be delivered by Emma Stanford (Digital Curator – Bodleian Library, Oxford) and is titled The Art of Losing: A Wishlist for Responsible Digitisation. 

The lecture will be open to all, not just conference participants.

Cad for Architectural History: Teaching and Research

In this lunchtime workshop, #DAHRG’s inaugural event, Fern demonstrated how CAD software can be used in conjunction with primary research documents to recreate lost architecture. Furthermore, Fern clarified how mapping architecture via SketchUp had enhanced her understanding of early-modern Scots’ perceptions and use of interior space.

Meg provided insight into UCLA Professor Meredith Cohen’s Paris Past and Present project and her experience using Vectorworks and photogrammetry as pedagogical tools, providing students with an iterative approach to learning about architecture.

This session ended with a SketchUp activity to clarify its simplicity. By referring to primary sources, we began to make a model of the destroyed St Maria ad Nives (The Snow Kirk) of Old Aberdeen. Follow-up materials, including the original primary sources worksheet and a beginner’s guide to SketchUp are available below.

Dr Fern Insh (Courtauld Institute of Art) is the Research Forum’s Digital Project Officer and a specialist in early-modern Scottish art and culture. Prior to working at the Courtauld, Fern was a Teaching Fellow and Researcher at the University of Aberdeen. During this time, she produced and published a successful tourism app called Discover: Old Aberdeen. The app includes digital reconstructions of buildings damaged or destroyed after the Scottish Reformation.

Meg Bernstein (University of California, Los Angeles/Courtauld Institute of Art) is Kress Pre-Doctoral Institutional Fellow and an Associate Lecturer. Meg is currently conducting research for her doctoral thesis on the architecture of the thirteenth-century English parish church. Previously, Meg worked as a Graduate Research Assistant/3D Modeler for the Paris Past and Present project (UCLA Art History/Center for Digital Humanities), and has supervised undergraduate researchers/modelers doing fieldwork and photogrammetry for the project onsite in Paris.

Open Access in the Humanities: What, Why and How

The Courtauld’s new Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG) was pleased to welcome Professor Martin Eve to give the first of two keynote seminars. In Open Access in the Humanities: What, Why, and How, Prof. Eve provided a general background to open access. He also highlighted its challenges and economics. Finally, he spoke about The Open Library of Humanities (OLH), for which he is Project Director. OLH is a charitable organisation dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges (APCs).

Professor Eve is Chair of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of four books, including Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future (Cambridge UP: 2014). Martin is well-known for his work on open access and HE policy, appearing before the UK House of Commons Select Committee BIS Inquiry into Open Access, writing for the British Academy Policy Series on the topic, being a steering-group member of the OAPEN-UK project, the Jisc National Monograph Strategy Group, the SCONUL Strategy Group on Academic Content and Communications, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Access Steering Group, the Jisc Scholarly Communications Advisory Group, the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation advisory board, the California Digital Library/University of California Press’s Humanities Book Infrastructure advisory board, and the HEFCE Open Access Monographs Expert Reference Panel (2014) and founding the Open Library of Humanities.

Photographs to 3D Models: Introduction to Structure from Motion

#DAHRG’s second workshop offered participants a chance to learn how to create three-dimensional models of objects through structure-from-motion (SfM) with Robert Kaleta (UCL).

SfM is an increasingly popular photogrammetric technique that allows its users to turn a set of photographs into a 3D model which can be explored further, shared online, or 3D printed. Many public institutions, cultural heritage organisations and outreach projects are increasingly relying on this technique to document, and open up their collections to a wider audience.

The workshop covered:

  • General introduction to structure-from-motion
  • Data capture using a digital camera
  • Common errors and problems with data collection
  • Data processing using the leading commercial software (PhotoScan)
  • Creating 3D models of objects provided by the Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Exporting and sharing the models online

About Robert Kaleta:

Robert is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. He has created 3D models for the British Museum and the MicroPasts project. Most recently he has been responsible for the creation and management of 3D objects for the Paul Mellon Centre funded Digital Pilgrim Project which aims  to digitise the British Museum’s collection of medieval pilgrimage badges.

The IIIF: WWWhat? How?

On Tuesday 17 October 2017, we welcomed Geoff Moss (The Courtauld ) to #DAHRG. He provided us with an introduction to the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). You can catch up with Geoff’s presentation and view all the live demos here:

Full details:

An ever-expanding community of the world’s leading research libraries and image repositories are aiming to collaboratively produce an interoperable technology and community framework for image delivery. This initiative is known as IIIF. You may have heard of their work if you have used viewers such as Diva.js or Mirador.

Access to image-based resources is fundamental to art historical research and scholarship, so #DAHRG championed the initiative at the group’s first workshop of  2017/18.

In this film, Geoff Moss introduce us to IIIF; tells us about the initiative’s history and aims; and demonstrates ways in which it could help you with your work – both in terms of research and presentation.

Geoff is the Web Developments Manager here at The Courtauld and has more than a decade’s experience working in higher education and web technology – both within universities and through his own business.