This important collection was created by George Forsyth, former professor and chair of the department, and Professor Kurt Weitzmann of Princeton University. The photographs were taken as part of a series of four expeditions between 1958 and 1965, led by Forsyth, to document the art and architecture of the monastery. St. Catherine's Monastery is the world's oldest active monastery, built during the sixth century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. The location is particularly famous as the traditional place where God gave Moses the commandments and spoke to him through the burning bush.
Inspired by Princeton University's project to digitize the color images of icons from the expedition, we are also driven by the urgent need to digitize our holdings of film negatives (approximately 10,000) before they further degrade with age. At a recent conference at Princeton University, A New Look: Sinai and Its Icons in Light of the Digitization of the Weitzmann Archive, it was clear that Byzantine scholars were thrilled to see the never-before released images of icons inside the monastery. What the Michigan holdings will add are rare photographs of the architecture, frescoes, mosaics, liturgical objects and manuscripts.