The Visual Resources Collections (VRC) unit of the Department of the History of Art supports faculty, students, and staff of the department and units within the College of LS&A with their visual resource needs. VRC staff acquire images of visual culture, provide descriptive information specific to the study of art history, and assist in instruction for digitizing, describing, finding, and using images to aid in the study of visual culture. Digital images created by the VRC can be found online in the University of Michigan Digital MLibrary Image Collections.
The Visual Resources Collection contains nearly two million images of art. The collection’s roots are more than 95 years old and developed as a teaching collection to support faculty and students. As the University of Michigan’s History of Art evolved and became a center for scholarship, so did the VRC collection become an international resource.
Maintaining representative art images of most eras, regions, cultures and media is a significant task. Many faculty have spread to the four corners of the world to document art represented in everything from museums to monuments to caves. This visual documentation, sometimes the first images of a monument in modern history and sometimes the last known images of those monuments no longer standing, are precious.
The collection is reaching into its vaults and working on digitizing much of this previously unpublished material as well as assisting other departments with digitization and project planning.