Visual Resources Collection
This FAQ guide was written and compiled by Alana Barry (VRC Staff, International Studies/East Asian Studies, 2022) and was last updated on 8/12/20.
The Visual Resources Collection (VRC) provides images and teaching support for faculty and students in the Departments of the History of Art, Classics, and Near Eastern Studies, and for those teaching image intensive courses.
Where can I find high-quality images?
This libguide is a great resource for finding images at JHU. There are sections which cover topics such as image databases, image searching, open access images, and more. The Finding Images guide is another useful resource with general tips for finding high-quality images. In addition, see this article written by the VRC for a comprehensive read on the importance of high-quality images and how best to find them.
What is Artstor?
JHU faculty, postdocs, students, and staff have access to Artstor, a digital image database of more than 2.5 million images, and to the VRC’s local digital image collection (available through Artstor), a growing collection with over 185,000 digital images. This resource reflects teaching and research interests across the humanities. Learn more about Artstor on the VRC libguide.
Why use Artstor? Why not just use Google Images?
There are a variety of reasons why Artstor, is an extremely useful resource for JHU faculty, postdocs, students, and staff. First, images from Artstor are generally larger and of higher quality than those of Google Images. Second, Artstor’s collections contain a diverse group of images from museums and cultural institutions around the world. Third, JHU has its own local collection in Artstor which contains over 185,000 unique images that reflect the teaching and research of Hopkins faculty and students across humanities disciplines. Fourth, Artstor and JHU can help to manage basic copyright questions. Last, Artstor lets you search keywords to find images that may be catalogued in other languages or using variant spellings/terms. For example, if you were to search for ‘Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola,’ the search would include all images by the Italian painter Parmigianino, as that is the name by which he is more commonly known. This feature helps to ensure that you have access to the greatest number of related images possible through one single search. If you are using Google Images, see how you can improve your searches here.
I need images for a class, but the images I need are not “art.” Is there anything else in Artstor? Where should I look for other types of images?
Artstor's collections are not limited to visual art, or even to other art forms. There are a variety of other types of images in Artstor, from science and technology to gardens and landscaping. The Wellcome collection, for example, contains more than 105,000 images relating to medical history. Visit the Finding Images guide for more tips for finding useful images. JHU libraries also offer libguides across academic departments; click here for more research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources compiled by librarians at the Sheridan Libraries. For another example, you can also visit the Welch Medical Libraries’ Finding and Using Images guide by subject area.
Where can I find open access images? Are there any open access images in Artstor? How do I find them?
Several major museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have begun to release images of items in their collections for public use. Open access images can be found in many databases such as Artstor, Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and more, as well as on the websites of the museums that are offering them. See this page of the libguide for more information about databases and websites that offer freely accessible images. Where Artstor is concerned, you can locate open access images by going to the Browse tab and selecting Public Collections. Check out this page of the libguide for additional information about Artstor’s public collections. Additionally, when you are searching, you can use the keyword search term cc0 to find all of Artstor’s freely accessible images (also known as Open Artstor.) While many of these images can be used for a variety of purposes (including commercial), make sure you check the Rights section of each Artstor image to make sure you can use it for your particular project. You can find more resources on image use guidelines here. If you need assistance, please contact the VRC.
Artstor Access and Use:
How do I access Artstor from off campus?
Follow this proxy link to access Artstor from off campus. You can use this link to browse Artstor’s collections without being a registered user, but you need to make an account in order to create groups or download images. See the Getting Started Guide for additional information.
If you are trying to send an Artstor group link to someone who is off campus, you must first add the proxy address to the link so that they can access it. Find more information about adding the proxy address to links here under Accessing and Using Artstor. If you’re still having trouble accessing a group link after trying these steps, contact the VRC.
How do I register for an Artstor account?
First, navigate to Artstor. You can browse Artstor’s collections without being a registered user, but you need to make an account in order to create groups or download images. Once on the Artstor homepage, there should be a box in the top right corner titled Log in or Register to save images. Click Register, and make sure you use your JHU email to sign up. Your Artstor account is not tied to your JHED login. See this page of the Artstor support guide or the Getting Started Guide for additional information.
My Artstor remote login access expired! Do I have to come to campus to reset it?
Artstor remote login access will expire after 120 days, after which time you are required to log in on campus. However, if you are unable to be on campus, you can email the VRC with a request to extend your access. For more information, see the libguide section Accessing and Using Artstor. Artstor remote access usually last 120-days, but for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, Artstor is extending this feature to last 365-days.
How do I search for images in Artstor?
Artstor, search function allows for keyword-based and advanced searches. See the Getting Started Guide for tips on narrowing/expanding keyword searches. Once you’ve started a search, a series of filters will appear on the left side of the page. The Collection Type filter allows you to browse by a specific category of collection, such as public or institutional. The Geography filter narrows the search by geographic location. The Classification filter allows you to narrow by the type of object the image depicts. The Contributor filter narrows the search by a specific library, museum, or other contributing organization. Finally, the Date filter lets you constrain the search to a specific time period. For more information on filters see Artstor and Image Databases at JHU. For more information about image searching, including the use of operators and wildcards, check out Tips for Image Searching.
How do I download images from Artstor?
Once you’re logged into your Artstor account and you’ve performed your desired search, hover your mouse over the thumbnail of any image you’d like to download. You should see a small white box in the upper right-hand corner of the thumbnail; click it to select the image. Once you’ve selected all the images you’d like to download on any given page, hover your mouse over the Organize tab and select either Add images to new group or Add images to existing group depending on your preference. You can also use the Select all on page option if you’d like to add all images on a given page to a group. Next, locate the group you’d like to download using the Groups tab. Last, you can use the Export button to download the images either as a PowerPoint file or as a .zip file. It’s also possible to download images individually: once you’ve clicked on the thumbnail of an image you want to download, there will be a button titled Download on the right-hand side of the page. Clicking that button and then Download Full will save the image to your computer. You can also choose to download a specific portion of the image (a detail) by zooming in on the detail, clicking Download, and selecting Download View. See the Artstor support page or the Getting Started Guide for further guidance.
What JHU materials are available in Artstor?
The VRC has its own Institutional Collection in Artstor, known as the JHU Visual Resources Collection. It contains over 185,000 images with subjects covering the entirety of the History of Art, as well as other humanities related topics. The collection’s images reflect the teaching and research of Hopkins faculty and students across humanities disciplines.
The VRC is also pleased to announce its partnership with Special Collections to bring Special Collections course content to Artstor via a brand new Institutional Collection in Artstor: JHU Sheridan Libraries, Special Collections.
JHU also has three public collections: the Archaeological Museum collection, the Aranow Collection: 1981 Tour of China, and the Chinese Public Health Campaign Slides 1950s-1970s. Besides using the links provided, these collections can also be accessed by going to the Browse tab on the Artstor homepage and selecting Public Collections. See this page of the libguide for more information about JHU collections in Artstor.
How do I access JHU's Institutional Collections?
Institutional Collections in Artstor can be accessed in a few different ways. First, you can go to the Browse tab on the Artstor homepage and select Institutional Collections. Second, you can scroll to the bottom of the Artstor homepage and select Collections under the Explore Artstor header, and then select JHU Collections from the options at the top of the page. You can also search for your desired image first, and then use the search filters on the side to narrow the search by Institutional Collections. Additionally, each image in a search will be tagged with the collection it belongs to. Images from the VRC’s local collection and the JHU Sheridan Libraries, Special Collections will be tagged Institutional. You can browse all of Artstor’s collections without being a registered user, but you need to make an account in order to create groups or download images. For additional guidance, See the Getting Started Guide.
Artstor for Classes:
I want to collect images into a study group for my students. How can I do that with Artstor?
Groups are just one of Artstor's many useful features. Through this function, you can create pre-made PowerPoint presentations, organize images into study groups for classes, and even present from your web browser using Artstor’s viewer. Making a group is simple, just follow these steps:
Once you’re logged into your Artstor account, find one of the images you want to include in the group and click on the thumbnail. On the top right-hand side of the page, there is a button titled Add to Group. From the dropdown, select Add Item. If you haven’t already created the group, click on Create new group in the bottom left-hand corner of the box. You will then be prompted to give the group a title and description, select sharing permissions, and add tags. If you have an existing group, follow the same steps to add additional images, and you will be able to select the group from a menu after you click Add to Group on the image page. Additionally, you can go to the Organize tab and click Select all on page then Add selections to existing group to add every image on that page to your group. This also works if you select multiple images on a page and then select Add selections to existing group. See the Getting Started Guide or the Artstor support page for further guidance.
How can I use Artstor to create a presentation for my class?
Artstor has a unique feature that allows you to download all of the images in a group as a PowerPoint presentation. To do so, begin at the Artstor homepage, go to the Browse tab, and then select Groups. Click on the group that you want to use for the presentation. There is a button titled Export on the top right-hand side of the page. Once you’ve clicked that button and selected the PowerPoint option, the group will automatically save to your Downloads folder as a .pptx file. The PowerPoint presentation will have one image per slide and the cataloguing information/metadata can be located in the notes section of each slide. See the Getting Started Guide for additional instructions, or Exporting a Group to PowerPoint. Additionally, you can present all the images in your group through your web browser using Artstor’s viewer. Find more information about the viewer on Artstor's support page. This Artstor libguide about using Artstor for instructors may also have some useful tips.
I have an image I want to use on a website or for a publication. How do I know if I can use it?
This depends on the image you have chosen. Finding a high-quality downloadable image on the open web, in a library database, or on a museum website does not guarantee how you can legally use that image. Users must consider several determining factors, including the copyright status of the image, whether the image is considered fair use or is provided through a complex licensing agreement, and how and in what context the image will be used. Rights will vary from image to image. Each image in Artstor has an image rights section, and you can visit Artstor’s copyright guide or the U.S. Government’s frequently asked copyright questions page for further details. The VRC libguide also has a page on image use. If you can’t find what you’re looking for with these sources, contact the VRC with any additional questions.
My students will be working on a project where they will need images. How can the VRC help?
The VRC can work directly with students to find suitable images for their assignment. Students should contact the VRC by email or come to the office for assistance. VRC staff can also come to classes to give presentations on finding images or provide video tutorials. Check out the VRC webpage for more information about services offered. Students taking image-intensive classes may also find the Art History Research Guide, Finding Images Guide, and the Near Eastern Studies Research Guide to be of use while searching for images for their courses.
I need images for a course I am teaching that I cannot find anywhere online. How can the VRC help me?
I need help with…can I ask the VRC?
There aren’t any images of x in Artstor, but I have images of x! Can they be added to the VRC's local collection in Artstor?
The VRC is happy to accept image donations along with accompanying cataloguing information and can work with you to help fulfill your specific needs. Images in the VRC’s local collection will only be accessible to JHU affiliates and will include appropriate credit. Contact the VRC by email with any inquiries.
There aren’t any images of x in Artstor, and I can only find images in a print source. Can they be added to the local collection in Artstor?
Generally, images in print and select other physical materials can be added to the VRC’s local collection. Please fill out the service request form or contact the VRC by email, and we will respond to your request as soon as possible.
There’s a mistake in an image’s data in Artstor! Who can I send a correction to?
If you’ve found an error in image data, please contact the VRC. If the image is part of a JHU collection, the VRC will either correct it or forward it to the appropriate JHU party. If the image is in an Artstor collection, VRC staff will contact them directly about corrections.
I want to make sure I’m citing an image correctly. How can the VRC help me with this?
If you have questions about how to cite an image, consult the Art History Research Guide’s page on citations, Artstor’s page on copyright and image use, or Image Use Guidelines. Artstor also has a Citation Generator, but you may need to edit the citation based on the selected image as every contributor to Artstor enters their own data in their own way. If you have any further questions, you can contact the VRC by email.