Decorative Arts

Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture is an excellent decorative-arts-centric, early-American-leaning online resource. They make available a number of classic texts (such as Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament and Edith Wharton’s The Decoration of Houses) as ultra high quality jpegs and also offer a small, focused digital image database representing two of their special collections. Even further, they include a list of online resources that, though there is some duplication, extends the range of our list. Thanks to Karyn in the Library for finding this!

Domestic Interiors Database

The Domestic Interiors Database tracks the evolution of the domestic interior (through secondary representations) from the Renaissance until today. It includes interpretative data as well as standard reference information, and both simple keywords and advanced parameters can be used to search records. The database includes both visual and textual sources, in the first case prints, paintings, photographs, film stills, etc and in the second novels, correspondences, advertisements, periodicals, etc. The depth of information and the breadth of sources make this a particularly valuable resource for scholars of domestic spaces.

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, a UK based institution dedicated to the decorative arts and material culture, makes a substantial portion of its collection available in digital format through its online image database. The database has more than 1 million entries, with metadata and image quality varying from record to record. The search functionality allows users to restrict results to only the highest quality records, and other search and browse features are both extensive and intuitive. The V&A also makes acquiring image rights and high quality digital files extremely easy (and when possible free) by incorporating “shopping cart” style ordering into the site.


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