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Art Historian ’89 Shapes Visual World Using Technology

Kathe Albrecht

Kathe Albrecht, CAS/MA ’89.

For Kathe Albrecht, CAS/MA ’89, the visual world is paramount. In fact, her work on accessing and utilizing digital images to teach art has shaped the entire profession.

“It’s all about opportunity,” says Albrecht, manager and curator at AU’s Department of Art since 1990, and a founding director of the Visual Resources Association Foundation.

“In academia, you make opportunity for yourself,” says Albrecht, who decided to pursue her master’s in art history at AU in 1986 after relocating with her family to the D.C. area from Los Angeles in 1980 after her husband accepted a job with the federal government.

Through a merit-based fellowship she received to attend AU, Albrecht worked as an assistant in the art department’s slide library, becoming its full-time curator in 1991. As the field of visual resources was quickly changing with the rapid development of technology, she transformed the once-modest slide library into a cutting-edge visual resources center during the 1990s.

Today, the visual resources center includes a collection of beautifully bound art books, features access to myriad online resources, as well as an array of study spaces, flexible furniture for all sorts of study sessions, and a food and comfort area – making it an innovative learning space designed specifically for 21st century academia on AU’s campus. The interactive space has become a unique academic tool for AU students.

Albrecht also runs a summer educational program that just celebrated its seventh season with a three-day workshop at the University of New Mexico focused on database management, intellectual property rights, and classroom technology.

“The academic environment is so stimulating and enjoyable,” says Albrecht, whose keen interest in the growing field of technology-for-visual-resources led her to help establish in 2007 the Visual Resources Association Foundation. Its mission is dedicated to furthering research and education in the field of image management within the educational, cultural heritage, and commercial environments and the overall fields of library and information science.

Having recently served as a member of VRA’s executive board (president 2004-2006), Albrecht shares her expertise on an array of issues from strategic planning to fair use of intellectual property rights. She testified on Capitol Hill in the 1990s during the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU), working alongside the American Association of Museums to develop fair use guidelines for images.

Albrecht notes only one drawback to her continued work in higher education: “The students graduate,” she notes, “and I have to let them go.”

No doubt many have – and will – go on to do some amazing things thanks to her contributions.

Tyler Weingart also contributed to this story.