New Research Resource: Gigantic Online Picture Map of London

The London Picture Archive is a gigantic, free online photo map of the city’s past. The project has been nicknamed Collage.

Collage The London Picture Archive

Managed by London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), the map is made with over 250,000 photos, prints, maps, and drawings from the collections of LMA and Guildhall Art Gallery. Visitors can search by street name, or browse featured galleries and subjects. From the description of Collage:

“The images provide an extraordinary record of London and its people from the fifteenth century to the present day. The whole of Greater London is covered, as are the adjoining counties. Some of the many highlights include photographs of Victorian London; the sixteenth century ‘Agas’ map of London; Hollar’s stunning panorama from 1647; beautifully designed twentieth century posters for London’s tramways; the Cross and Tibbs photographs of Second World War damage to the City of London and the collections formerly held at the Guildhall Print Room. We regularly add new content from the LMA collections and, in particular, continue to develop descriptions and subject tags for the very large London County Council Photograph Library.”

I’ve only poked around for a short time, but for general purposes Collage looks like an endless source of images. For more specific searches it may not do quite so well. It certainly appears to be a worthwhile source for historical or historically inspired worldbuilding.

Image: screencap of Collage home page by Eppu Jensen

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna

An End and a New Beginning for Bede’s World

Bede’s World, a small museum in Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, Northumbria, dedicated to the Venerable Bede and 7th-century England, shut down its operations in February 2016.

Bedes World Main Entry

Bedes World Entrance Inside

In addition to indoor exhibits, the museum includes several replica wattle and daub buildings, modeled on structures excavated in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria and built with original materials and contemporary methods. On the grounds there is also a herb garden and a working farm with a small collection of rare breed animals resembling those that lived 1,300 years ago.

Bedes World Collage

The museum issued the following statement:

“It is with great regret that the Trustee Board took the decision for Bedes World [sic] to cease operation from Friday 12 February 2016 due to a lack of funds.

“Steps are being taken to put the company into administration through the appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner.

“The Trustee Board have made arrangements for the immediate care of the farm animals and the security of the site.

“The Board would like thank all staff, volunteers and stakeholders for their hard work and dedication to Bedes World. [sic]”

Fortunately, only a few weeks afterwards better news surfaced: a new operator was found to run the site. At this writing it isn’t clear what their plans for Bede’s World are, though. (Follow this link to read the statement by Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, the new operator.)

Found via Anne Bennett and BBC.

Images: Bede’s World main entrance, outside view via Bede’s World. Other photographs by Eppu Jensen

Quality Research Resources by Private Individuals

I wrote last week about what a fantastic thing it is to have a wealth of primary sources stored in libraries and museums, nowadays increasingly being made available online. For completeness’s sake, it needs to be mentioned that it’s not only library and museum professionals that share quality research or materials online.

nypl-unidentified-woman-reading-a-book
Unidentified woman reading a book via NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division (1913; photograph)

Below I list a (very) few linguistic and historical resources put together by dedicated private individuals. They’re all diligent in documenting their steps and sources, and providing info and links for those interested in finding more. Thorough documentation is, again, not a surefire way to avoid mistakes, but it does allow tracking sources and re-creating the research.

A short list, to be sure, but what better than that to add to. 🙂

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Museum Materials: Volcano Day in Pompeii

Speaking of the excellence of museum and library collections: below are resources on the destruction of Pompeii I found by visiting only two museum sites.

“A Day in Pompeii” is an 8-minute high-definition video on how a series of eruptions wiped out Pompeii over 48 hours, produced by Museum Victoria (Melbourne Museum) and Zero One Animation for an exhibition at Melbourne Museum in 2009.

A Day in Pompeii – Full-length animation via Zero One Animation

It would’ve been more stunning with changes in the POV rather than a static camera, but it was still interesting.

To accompany the exhibit, Melbourne Museum produced a wealth of additional online material.

Melbourne Museum Day in Pompeii Box

Unfortunately there’s currently no index page, but articles are still available on the Museum website (do a search for Pompeii). For example, House of the Vine is a nifty virtual recreation of a beautiful Pompeian house. And did you know that Pompeii had running water and lavatories? There is even a replica of a loaf of bread from Pompeii:

Melbourne Museum Day in Pompeii Loaf of Bread

After Melbourne, the exhibition traveled to other places. The Western Australian Museum also built a helpful site, still fully available, to go with their 2010 version in Perth.

Complementary views can be found from photos of the current state of the city at Pompeii in Pictures, website by Jackie and Bob Dunn. (Getting to the photos themselves takes a bit of clicking through the menus, but they’re there.)

Images: Box, (c) Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei via Melbourne Museum (House of Julius Polybius, Pompeii; original iron and bronze fittings and wood reconstruction). Loaf of bread via Melbourne Museum (bakery in Pompeii; plaster copy of an original, carbonized loaf)

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

The Glory of Library and Museum Materials

I really love the Internet for research. It connects us to materials and people around the world. As a visual person, I find the availability of photographs and other visualizations on just about any subject especially gratifying. You can visit places and eras that you physically may not be able to.

NYPL Digital The Drawbridge

One of the invaluable services libraries and museums provide, especially now that more of their collections are being digitized, is access to historical periods and obscure topics. (Like the Peter Parker collection of 80 paintings of Chinese patients with large tumors or other major deformities – that’s not a joke!)

And that’s only the beginning – using library and museum websites and digital collections to find primary sources for research has other benefits as well:

  • Copious metadata: the provenance (origins and history) of documents or items, including details like dates, original creators, owners, and chain of custody, are clearly marked when known, and when unknown, that is clearly stated, too.
  • Materials that physical items were made of are also given, often with information on the techniques involved or links to further reading in connection with museum exhibits.
  • Many libraries and museums group items in their digital collections into more easily browsable subgroups, for example by era, style, type, or topic.
  • Copyright information is easily available: any limitations to re-using the materials are clearly given. There are also collections that concentrate on items that are in public domain.
  • If digital materials are made available for re-using, often there are multiple formats, sizes, or resolutions. That’s great service!
  • Sets of search results are often smaller than online in general. Finding an answer is faster!
  • Digital collections are created by professionals. While this doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of errors, online materials at libraries and museums are researched, curated, and checked, which increases the reliability of the information provided.
  • If additional information or clarification is needed, it’s the job of museums and libraries to at least try to help. That’s literally why they’re there!

Below are just some amazing digital collections from museums and libraries around the world:

Must. Resist. Internet. Rabbit. Holes!

Image: The Drawbridge via NYPL (The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library, New York Public Library Digital Collections; 1748-1751; etching; by Giovanni Battista Piranesi)

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.