John Ruskin's Teaching Collections

Project start date: 2002-09 Project end date: 2004-08
This two-year project presented via the Web, a fully searchable and browsable catalogue linked to digitized images of John Ruskin's 'Teaching Collections' held in the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford. The interface presents users with a means of linking Ruskin's original catalogues of his collection with modern catalogue information, presenting the entire Oxford-based collection as a single resource: as some of the original collections have now been dispersed under individual artist categories, the project virtually reassembled them in Ruskin's original sequences. At the same time the project assisted in the preservation and cataloguing of the material. The project increased access to these priceless objects which otherwise can only be seen by visiting Oxford. In addition, echoing Ruskin's support for contemporary art, two modern artistic responses to the collection were commissioned and added to the project site. In 2010, the project was awarded additional funding from the AHRC to ensure its sustainability by bringing its data into the with Ashmolean's core collections management and web delivery systems, as well as increasing its dissemination by commissioning additional framing content and contemporary artistic responses.
Methods usedCategory
2d Scanning and photographyData capture
Cataloguing and indexingData structuring and enhancement
PhotographyPractice-led research
Image enhancementData structuring and enhancement
Image manipulationPractice-led research
Text encoding - descriptiveData structuring and enhancement
Searching and queryingData analysis
General website developmentData publishing and dissemination
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Content types created: 
Dataset/structured data, Still Image/Graphics, Text
Software tools used: 
Source material used:  
Images and printed catalogues of John Ruskin's teaching collection held in the Ashmolean Museum, and manuscript catalogues of the collection held in the University Archives, both at the University of Oxford.
Digital resource created:  
Several hundred images of works of fine art assembled by Ruskin, plus the accompanying catalogue and notes. Material was digitized using high level, non-contact scanning to the accepted resolutions and depths of 24-bit colour, 600dpi. All images are stored as TIFFs. Digitization was carried out in-house direct from source, or in the case of oversized/fragile items from film surrogates. Derivative images were derived from the TIFF masters, formatted as JPGs for web delivery. The texts of Ruskin's catalogues were OCRed and transcribed into XML, using the TEI5 data format. Modern catalogues were constructed in an Access database, structured using the Getty's Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA); this was exported to XML for incorporation into the website and integration with the other datasets. The artistic responses were delivered as PDF files.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Data Formats created: 
Extensible Markup Language (XML), JPEG File Interchange Format (JPG), Tagged Image File Format (TIFF), Strucrured Query Language (SQL)-compatible RDBMS; Portable Document Format (PDF)
Production of compressed JPEG files from uncompressed TIFF files for web dissemination; generation of XML files from Access database; generation of HTML files from XML for web delivery.
Metadata standards employed: 
Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA), Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)
Shepherd, Rupert, and Miller, Jonathan. "The Ruskin Project: Digitizing John Ruskin's Teaching Collection at the Ashmolean Museum." Literary and Linguistic Computing 19 (2004): 385-396 (DOI: 10.1093/llc/19.3.385)

Shepherd, Rupert, and Miller, Jonathan. "The Ruskin Project: Digitising the Ruskin Teaching Collection at the Ashmolean Museum." In Les institutions culturelles et le numérique: Actes des conferences, ICHIM 2003, Ecole du Louvre 8–12 septembre 2003 / Cultural Institutions and Digital Technology: Proceedings, ICHIM 2003, Ecole du Louvre 8–12 September 2003. ICHIM 2003: Paris, 2003., also available on CD-ROM.

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
University of Oxford
UK HE institutions involved:
University of Oxford

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Mr Colin Harrison; Dr Stuart Lee; Dr Rupert Shepherd; Mr Paul Bonaventura; Mr Jonathan Miller
Other staff:Computing officer(s) / Technical supporter(s)
External expertise:

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordRupert Shepherd
TitleJohn Ruskin's Teaching Collections
Record created2006-07-26
Record updated2011-01-27 14:26
URL of record
Citation of recordRupert Shepherd: John Ruskin's Teaching Collections.
created: 2006-07-26, last updated 2011-01-27 14:26