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Finding Images and Other Visual Resources: Advanced Research

There are more ways to find interesting and useful images than Flickr and Google Image search. Learn how and where!


National Gallery of Art Image Collections

The department of image collections is a study and research center for images of Western art and architecture at the National Gallery of Art. This resource is one of the largest of its kind, numbering almost 13 million photographs, slides, negatives, and microform images.

Advanced Research

This page provides information for advanced image research which includes: (1) Finding rare or specialized visual material for specific research projects, and (2) identifying scholarly image repositories which may or may not have all or some of their images digitized but which provide some access to collection content.  Some of these Web sites may require a fee for purchasing images.
A selection of these resources may provide critical information beyond images, such as a history of conservation, provenance, present location of works of art, references for scholarly publications, dimensions, materials, dates, etc., as well as legacy information, often dating back to the 19th century or earlier, that has been migrated to Web sites.
When conducting advanced image research, look for the following types of repositories:
1. National Photographic Archives that may be part of a government-sponsored department of cultural affairs, national heritage sites or offices of national patrimony.  For example, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication Web site contains a variety of important resources for image research but the site is complex with overlapping points of access.
2. Image collections, formerly slide and photograph collections, that are departments in specialized research libraries, museums or archives.  For example, the Fototeca in the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is one of the premier photo archives for Italian painting.

Language advice.
Searching for information by geographical references may require knowledge of the home language of the resource.  For example, the Belgian city of Brussels may be rendered as Brüssel in a German-language database.   For help with geographical names and linguistic variants, see:
Similarly, names of artists may be recorded under any number of variant forms.  For help with name variants of artists, see:

ARTstor has a variety of highly specialized image collections that are not always easily discovered through their standard search mechanism.  See ARTstor's Collection List for details.

Resources in this section are primarily for text searches. However, the search mechanisms are also valuable for image research, especially for materials that may be available only in the illustrations of journal articles. (Virtual Catalogue for Art History)
The Advanced Search in JSTOR contains a "caption" option and the search result will return thumbnail images of the pages containing images with the search term in the caption.



Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin, with offices in Amman, Athens, Beijing, Cairo, Damascus, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome, Tehran
The BAM Portal enables access to the collections of participating LibrariesArchives, Museums and Other sources in Germany.  






United Kingdom

United States
New York City, N.Y.
Washington D.C.