Database Spotlight: The Art of Using ARTstor

Database Spotlight: The Art of Using ARTstor

By Jeff Schwartz, Instructional Designer

If you are interested in a database that allows you to access and curate high-quality images, now is the perfect time to learn about ARTstor, a recent addition to DU’s collection of nearly 1,000 databases. ARTstor contains over a million images drawn from museums, artists, libraries, and archives from around the world. All DU faculty, staff, and students can access ARTstor for free with their DU credentials.

Courses in the humanities will particularly benefit from ARTstor’s extensive collection of contemporary and historic paintings, photography, sculpture, and other art, along with features like the “present” mode, which allows you to compare images side by side. But anyone who wants to incorporate high-quality images in their courses will benefit from learning how to use ARTstor.

But before we get into the nitty gritty of how to use ARTstor, it’s worth noting that you may have previously used a program called CourseMedia to store and collect images, videos, and slides. Starting in Autumn quarter of 2021, CourseMedia will be discontinued. In the short term, if you have been using CourseMedia and want to ensure that your content is preserved, you should reach out to or your department’s library liaison.

There are actually a variety of databases and resources that can fill the gaps left by CourseMedia. In a future post, we’ll focus on streaming services like Kanopy and Swank, and how their videos, which you might have previously organized using CourseMedia, can be integrated directly into Canvas. For now, though, let’s dive into ARTstor.

First and foremost, ARTstor allows you to search multiple collections simultaneously. You can type in the title of a work, the name of an artist, a genre of art, a country, or any number of subjects, into the search bar.

Search Function within ArtSTOR

ARTstor users can browse a variety of collections; these vary from institutional collections, like DU’s School of Art and Art History, to collections from museums and archives.

Browsing Collections in ARTstor

You can also create a “personal collection” with works that you upload from your computer.

Creating personal collections

Like CourseMedia, ARTstor allows you to curate works. You can organize works from ARTstor’s trove of images into specific “groups.”

Add to Group

Once images are in a group, you can export them to a PowerPoint or as a .zip file.

Export in ARTstor

There is also the nifty “present” mode, which allows you to show images in fullscreen and compare images side-by-side from the same group.

The “Quiz mode” feature removes the artist information and could be useful as a study aid for students or a way to assess students’ retention of information about an image.

ARTstor isn’t yet integrated directly into Canvas’s rich content editor. However, you have the option to download any ARTstor image to your computer; you can then embed that image in a Canvas page by clicking on the “image” button and uploading the image from your computer.

How to embed image using Canvas

Or, if you want students to use the ARTstor interface, copy the url from the work or the group you want to share. Then, using the “insert link” button on the rich content editor in Canvas, select “external link” and paste in the url address.

How to insert a link in Canvas

Consider this an introduction to what you can do with ARTstor. If you want to learn more, check out the DU’s library guide.  And to consult with an Instructional Designer about how to integrate ARTstor into your pedagogy, feel free to reach out to the Instructional Design team here at the OTL.