The Visual Resources Center (VRC) maintains and develops the extensive image holdings of the Art Department and serves the department as an essential and daily resource. Art history faculty employ images as an intrinsic part of their curriculum, and studio faculty use the Center’s images to augment drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking courses. Major works of painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, and other arts comprise the core of the VRC collections. Strengths include the works of women artists, from the Renaissance work of Sofonisba Anguissola to Judy Chicago's Womanhouse installation, as well as the text art of Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer. Although the majority of the collection has a Western European focus, the Center also offers an outstanding and diverse collection of Asian, Native American, Near Eastern, African, and other art images. Recent areas of collection development include postmodernism, ancient Greek and Roman architecture, sculpture and painting, and Islamic art.
For information or appointments,
contact Sarah Osborne Bender:
Katzen Arts Center, Room 142
Visual Resources Curator
Sarah Osborne Bender
The Madison Digital Image Database (MDID): The MDID is a collection of over 21,000 high resolution image files for use in the digital classroom. Hosted on a remote server with an archival back-up in the VRC, the MDID database provides images for in-class presentation, and also a web-based student study component. The MDID database is comprised of images scanned in-house and images licensed through commercial sources such as Scholars Resource and Davis Art Images. The MDID Collection directly supports art history course offerings and includes important art works from across time and across the globe. All instructors now teach with digital images, making the art history program at American University 100% digital.
Slide Collection: This collection is comprised of over 100,000 35mm slides and approximately 10,000 glass lantern slides. The 35mm slide images were amassed over a period of 40+ years for classroom display. Today, the slides are an important archival asset and are used for reference and as a source for digital image scanning. The lantern slides are a historic asset, but are no longer used in day-to-day operations. 35mm slides may be checked out by AU faculty outside the Art Department with the understanding that the borrowed slides be returned immediately after use. Please contact staff in the VRC for more information on slide loan policy.
The Kassalow Collection Graduate Study Library: The Kassalow Collection is a small but outstanding book library that is housed in the VRC. The scholarly books on art and artists are available for in-house study only. The Everett and Sylvia Kassalow Collection is a non-lending library established originally through a generous donation from Mrs. Sylvia Kassalow. Since her donation in 1999 of over 900 books, the Library has expanded and currently includes approximately 1,500 volumes. In recent years, new scholarship has been added regularly through the support of the Graduate Student Council. We have added books on artists, art theory and criticism, and general art history scholarship, developing the collection with current scholarship and our graduate curriculum in mind. We have also received several book donations from individual alumni and friends of the Art History Program. The Library is open during regular VRC hours.
The Graduate Thesis Collection: The Graduate Thesis Collection — view a list of Graduate Thesis Papers (PDF) — is also housed in the VRC. Thesis papers are submitted as a requirement for the Art History Master’s Program and papers are kept in the department for reference and study. Some of the papers date back over 40 years.