New online art database to help add CLAR-ity


Ian Cheong

The University launched a new online art database intended “to bring the art of the world to everyone” this Tuesday.

CLAROS, (Classical Art Research Online Services), allows access to collections of classical art from the Universities of Oxford, Cologne, Wurzburg, Heidelberg, Athens, Basle and Le Trobe, as well as various museums and British foreign schools.

The programme was developed in partnership with the University of Cologne, and the National Hellenic Research Foundation and National Documentation Centre in Athens. It was launched at Wolfson College, with guests including University Chancellor Lord Patten and President of Wolfson Professor Hermione Lee. The project is spearheaded by Professor Donna Kurtz, Professor of Classical Art, who also directs the Beazley Archive, the University’s Classical Arts Research Centre.

Second year History of Art student Laurence Weatherly said online archives such as CLAROS are “a huge help with last minute essays, but also create opportunities for comparative study which has previously been either impossible or impractical.

“The capability of CLAROS to search globally diverse collections is valuable, especially given the wide dispersal of ancient artefacts. Particularly impressive is the visual search function, which recognises particular motifs and stylistic ‘phrases’ in an uploaded image and identifies parallels across the archived collection. Websites such as CLAROS offer an exciting opportunity for research, and while the word is often applied with buckets of hyperbole, technologies such as this will revolutionise research in many fields.”

The concept of having an online art database dates back to the early 1990s, when the Beazley Archive participated in the EU research project RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives).

The project was funded by a grant from the University’s Fell Fund and was developed in collaboration with the Department of Zoology and Department of Engineering Science.

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