Funding for the Methods Network ended March 31st 2008. The website will be preserved in its current state.

What's in the Art Historian's Tool Kit?

This paper was given in a modified form by Neil Grindley at the Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts (3 - 6 September 2006) conference held at Dartington College of Arts, Devon.

It is clear that there is a widespread and majority reluctance across most areas of the arts and humanities to engage with any technology that might be considered more advanced or applied than the ‘usual’ desktop productivity tools; a view reflected by a recent report from the proceedings of the Summit on Digital Tools for the Humanities held at the University of Virginia in 2005. Whilst it is important therefore not to brand the art history scholarly community as being especially benighted in its dealings with technology, it should also be noted that they deal with a particularly rich, diverse and highly visual body of material as the focus of their research and analysis. Presently, the technological response to the complex questions that arise from the study of that material is - for the most part - fragmentary, inadequate and poorly coordinated.

To address this problem, art historians may benefit from looking outside of their discipline to learn from colleagues pursuing technology-led solutions in other fields. The Methods Network has a remit to support and fund this kind of interdisciplinary forum and has done so with a series of events and activities that has brought together researchers from diverse fields with the aim of defining shared challenges and collaborative solutions. The tools and methods referred to in this paper are a distillation of some of the techniques that have been presented or referred to in the course of that programme and the intention is to consider how they might be applicable, relevant and useful to art historians carrying out research.

Read the full Working Paper : (pdf)

Image - Pesellino, Francesco (Francesco di Stefano) Diptych - Annunciation (recto) From Art and Architecture, Courtauld Institute of Art,

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • Art and Design
  • History


  • Communication and collaboration - Textual interaction - asynchronous
  • Data Analysis - Content analysis
  • Data Analysis - Content-based image searching
  • Data Analysis - Image feature measurement
  • Data Analysis - Visual analysis/visualisation
  • Data Analysis - Searching/querying
  • Data Capture - 2d Scanning/photography
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Graphical resource sharing
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Presenting
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Data modelling - relational
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Searching/querying
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Image enhancement
  • Data Analysis - Image segmentation
  • Communication and collaboration - Video-based interaction - synchronous
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Image restoration and rectification
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - conceptual
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - document structure
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - linguistic structure
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - nominal
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - referential