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Visual Arts Complex

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Ronald M. Bernier slide digitization project
In 2014 and 2015 the VRC received two grants, one from the Visual Resources Association Foundation and the other from Artstor, to digitize and catalog a portion of images from the Ronald M. Bernier slide collection. Professor Bernier (1943-2012) was a historian of Asian art who specialized in Himalayan architecture and taught for the Art and Art History Department for 35 years. During that time he traveled all over Asia and beyond, documenting his journeys through beautiful photographs. The collection, which was gifted to the VRC in 2012, comprises 30,000 slides, with a particular strength in the cultures of Nepal, Tibet, India, and Southeast Asia. This pilot project will digitize and catalog a subset of 500 images that highlights the extraordinary depth and breadth of Dr. Bernier’s archive. To make them broadly available for research, the VRC will publish these materials as a stand-alone collection in LUNA, our collection management software. The archive includes images from esoteric Buddhist initiation rituals in Nepal in the 1970s and 80s, key historical sites from Myanmar (Burma) taken when travel to the country was particularly rare, and sites from throughout Central Asia–including Iran, a notoriously difficult country to access now–over a span of decades. In short, Dr. Bernier’s archive documents a number of world religions, lesser-studied indigenous traditions, and the material cultures of dozens of countries, often recorded in multiple visits over time.

This archive will expose otherwise inaccessible materials to scholars, students, and aficionados with limited funds for travel. As sites can change drastically over time–or as in the case of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan (included in this collection), disappear altogether–scholars would have direct access to high-resolution files that would aid them in tracing the trajectory and appearance of a site over time. Museum professionals investigating a particular sculpture, painting, or ritual item from the cultures represented could consult the Bernier material as a point of reference when investigating provenance. Further, many of Dr. Bernier’s images come from sites that have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, providing crucial comparative data.

The first 1,000 images of the archive have been digitized and cataloged, and are being uploaded to the VRC’s collection in LUNA. Partners in the project include VRC Director Elaine Paul, Digital Imaging and Technology Coordinator Lia Pileggi, VRC Graduate Assistant Krystle Kelley, and Buddhist art scholar and Art and Art History instructor Ariana Maki.

Portolio Photography Room
Enhancements to the Portfolio Photography Room now make documenting small to medium sized 2- and 3-D artwork even better. These include a new, high-quaility camera (Canon EOS 6D DSLR with a 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM AF Lens), tethered to an iMac featuring Adobe Lightroom as the image viewing and organizing software. AAH students, staff, and faculty can contact Lia Pileggi with questions or to make an appointment to use the room. Be sure to plan and book in advance; spaces fill up quickly at mid-term and end of the semester.

Elaine Paul’s term as president of the Visual Resources Association comes to a close
VRC Director Elaine Paul stepped up in 2014  for a two-year term as president of the Visual Resources Association (VRA). VRA is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to furthering research and education in the field of image management within the educational, cultural heritage, and commercial environments. Her term ends in March 2016. VRC staff, and the resources and services we provide, are indebted to this organization, which provides us with standards and inspiration to make our services the best they can be.


See the VRC news archive.