Our new website and online catalogue launches today!

Today we’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new website and online catalogue for our holdings.

This is an exciting step for the Archives and Collections. By making our collections more accessible online, we hope to promote our magnificent holdings and facilitate the use of our archives and museum objects by both GSA staff and students as well as external users for the purposes of learning, teaching and research. This project has been kindly supported by Museums Galleries Scotland.

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Our main aim has been to make the catalogue as user-friendly as possible. We understand that academic users generally require detailed descriptions and information on, for example, how access to originals, copies and copyright,and in that sense the catalogue is still very traditional. However we are also aware that creative practitioners, who make up a significant proportion of our users, really appreciate the ability to browse and quite often rely on serendipity to find inspiration for their work, therefore, wherever possible, we have tried to include images alongside records, opening up a treasure trove of beautiful items to the public.

To browse images of our holdings, simply click on one of the 8 categories on our homepage.

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Alternatively you can also search by keyword on our catalogue.

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Our new website also includes user case studies and new subject-based archive resource guides, as well as a brand new format for our blog, so please remember to hop on over to our new blog and subscribe for updates. This current blog will disappear shortly.

Textiles    Vis Comm

As a result of the fire which occurred in the Mackintosh Building earlier this year, physical access to our collections is limited and we are sadly currently unable to welcome researchers to our searchroom, so providing virtual access to our collections has become even more vital at this time.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress and will be posting all week about the features of the website and online catalogue, so stay tuned. Happy browsing!

New RCAHMS digital image library

RCAHMS, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, has recently made thousands of images available in a new online digital image library. Through active surveying and recording programmes, RCAHMS adds new online images to the Canmore database every day. These include interior and exterior views of buildings and archaeological sites, aerial photographs, and digital drawings, all of which may be of interest as inspiration for artists, architects and designers.

RCAHMS also maintains an active digitisation programme of its Collection items, copying photographs and historic views, photograph albums, original architects’ drawings and new survey drawings, engravings and sketches, books and maps, and also receives material from external depositors and accessions.

When you search Canmore for buildings or archaeological sites of interest, anything from the Collections that has already been digitised will be shown (excluding copyright restricted images). There are already 200,000 digital images available online.

Furthermore, all images can be purchased as digital images, photographic prints or poster prints by clicking the Order Image link below each image.

Portobello Pier in Edinburgh was opened in 1871 and demolished after 1918. From the Photograph Albums Collection. DP137192. Image credit: RCAHMS

Portobello Pier in Edinburgh was opened in 1871 and demolished after 1918. From the Photograph Albums Collection. DP137192. Image credit: RCAHMS

Download a masterpiece from the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum, which holds masterpieces by, amongst others, Rembrandt, van Gogh and Vermeer, has taken the unusual step of not just allowing – but encouraging – people to download high-resolution images of items from its collections at no cost. They have even provided an interactive section of their website, Rijkstudio, where users are invited to copy and transform artworks into stationery, T-shirts, plates and even toilet paper.

While many have digitized their collections and made low-resolution images available in online catalogues, museums (and archives too) have generally always been highly-protective of supplying high-quality images of items from their collections (though allowing use through Creative Commons is becoming more and more popular). Usually these are available only by request to genuine researchers, scholars and publishers with strict restrictions on how they can be used, a) to preserve copyright and b) to maintain control over potential revenues.  The Rijksmuseum’s collections however, mostly predate Dutch copyright laws, and users of the Rijkstudio are advised to refrain from using the website for commercial gain.

Taco Dibbits, Director of Collections at the Rijksmuseum has said:

We’re a public institution, and so the art and objects we have, are, in a way, everyone’s property… With the internet, it’s so difficult to control your copyright or use of images that we decided we’d rather people use a very good high-resolution image from the Rijksmueum rather than using a very bad reproduction… If they want to have a Vermeer on their toilet paper, I’d rather have a very high-quality image of Vermeer on toilet paper than a very bad reproduction.

Jan Davidsz de Heem

Still Life by Jan Davidsz de Heem, 17th Century, which has been reworked into a tattoo template by Dutch design cooperative Droog

To inspire users, Dutch design cooperative Droog were invited to create products based on the Rijsmuseum’s artwork. So they used part of a 17th century still life of a flower by Jan Davidsz de Heem to create a template for a tattoo. See here for more examples of how they’ve used the collections.

Visit the Rijkstudio and create your own masterpiece from a masterpiece.

Inspirational images from the Institute of Mechanical Engineering

Japanese designer Yuya Ushida uses mechanical engineering to generate his XXXX furniture range for Dutch brand Ahrend.

Japanese designer Yuya Ushida uses mechanical engineering to generate his XXXX furniture range for Dutch brand Ahrend.

Showcasing archive and current images and videos of engineers, projects, inventions, designs and innovations (old and new), the Institute of Mechanical Engineering’s new Pinterest page aims to educate and inspire people about mechanical engineering through visuals. And as it’s so visual, we thought this site would be of particular interest to artists and other creative practitioners.

It also contains useful examples of how various creative practitioners have been using mechanical engineering as inspiration for their work. For example, Japanese designer Yuya Ushida has used mechanical engineering to generate his XXXX furniture range for Dutch brand Ahrend (see image above).

You can view the Pinterest page here. For more information about the Institute of Mechanical Engineering see their website or their Archives page.

Etienne Oehmichen's experimental helicopter, 1921 (PHO-NC-3)

Etienne Oehmichen’s experimental helicopter, 1921 (PHO-NC-3)

RCAHMS now on Flickr

View of clock-tower at Singer's Sewing Machine Factory, Clydebank. Demolished 15 March 1963. Image credit: RCAHMS

View of clock-tower at Singer’s Sewing Machine Factory, Clydebank.
Demolished 15 March 1963. Image credit: RCAHMS

RCAHMS (The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland) has launched a Flickr site.

RCAHMS collects, records and interprets information on the architectural, industrial, archaeological and maritime heritage of Scotland. It holds an archive of over 18 million items including photographs and albums from the 1840s to the present day, original architects’ drawings, excavation plans, new survey drawings, engravings, sketches, books, manuscripts and maps, offering a unique insight into the special nature of Scotland’s places. RCAHMS’ database Canmore contains images and information on over 300,000 archaeological and architectural sites across Scotland, and over 150,000 images are available to view online on their website.

RCAHMS will be updating their Flickr site with images from their collection regularly. So far they have published a lovely photo of the Singer Sewing Machine Factory in Clydebank, and The Fife Earth Project at Lassodie.

Visit their Flickr, and see the RCAHMS website for more information.