by Jennifer Hilder (PhD Intern)
The College has been collaborating with industry partners for ten years now, having begun working on the National Inventory Research Project in 2003 with the National Gallery, London and 250 or so other museums around the UK. This has helped museums in the UK to carry out further research on their Old Masters paintings. The results of this project have been really exciting, not only for the museums and galleries involved, but also for members of the public.
This work has continued and expanded over the years. Following the inventory project, the College worked with the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) to digitise over 200,000 oil paintings and upload them to the website Your Paintings. It is important that this fantastic resource can be searched and filtered, so the paintings are being categorised by the public through an innovative crowd-sourcing project Your Paintings Tagger. Since 2011, the Tagger has attracted over 9,000 users who have created nearly 4 million tags. You can tweet while you tag, too, with the hashtag #YourPaintings. Also with the PCF, the College has worked to produce OPEN (Oil Painting Expert Network), which will allow members of the public, curators, and experts to interact online.
Another very important project for the College is its collaboration with Creative Scotland since 2007 on the National Collecting Scheme Scotland, which Dr Tina Fiske continues to run in its third phase. Originally, the scheme supported seven museums and galleries to develop their collections of contemporary art and now hopes to give the curators the opportunity, by working with the College of Arts, to undertake further research on these new acquisitions.
As well as UK-wide projects and partners, academics at the College have worked at a local level too, researching the catalogue of Chinese works of art collected by the industrialist William Hesketh Lever for National Museums Liverpool. Professor Margaret MacDonald has also been working on cataloguing the etchings of J. M. Whistler for The Etchings Project, which also includes a virtual exhibition. This is also linked to the website of Whistler’s correspondence and may be extended to include information about his oil paintings and works on paper.
For students, Glasgow is currently the only university in Europe to offer a Master’s programme in Technical Art History, which joins the arts and humanities with scientific analysis. As Dr Erma Hermens explained at Industry Day, the College is unique for providing a full interpretation as well as a detailed analysis: “the story with the data, if you like”. The expertise of the College’s academics in this area has been proven in a collaboration with the Burrell Collection, where they analysed the traces of organic matter on a large oak chest associated with Richard de Bury to prove that the dating of the chest was contemporary with de Bury’s life (1281-1345). Students are also encouraged to do work placements and internships, which have included photographing collections and setting up Flikr albums.
So, even if it’s scientific analysis that you want, the College of Arts is the place to look. See you on Flikr, too.