Curatorial Voice


      Data, code, and documentation

Curatorial Voice: legacy descriptions of art objects and their contemporary uses

This 12-month project will demonstrate how new knowledge about the curation and the content of image collections can be generated through computer-assisted analysis of curatorial art descriptions. The focus will be on a catalogue of 1.5 million words written by the historian M. Dorothy George between 1935 and 1954 to describe 12,552 Georgian satirical prints. A novel mix of computational and art historical methods will facilitate a comprehensive account of such material. This will be the basis for addressing questions about George’s curatorial voice and, more generally, about the authorial voice of institutions in art historical discourse and the contemporary role of legacy descriptions in indexing and understanding image collections. Workshops with art historians, curators and digital Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) professionals will serve to promote digital research around image collections and to form a consortium for ongoing research.


Curatorial Voice is a Sussex Humanities Lab project led by James Baker, Senior Lecturer in Digital History and Archives, School of History, Art History and Philosophy, University of Sussex. James has a background in the history of the printed image, archival theory, art history, and computational analysis. He is author of The Business of Satirical Prints in Late-Georgian England (2017), the first monograph on the infrastructure of the satirical print trade circa 1770-1830.

The project Co-I is Andrew Salway, Research Fellow in Digital Humanities, School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex. Andrew has 20 years’ experience of digital text mining and corpus linguistic methods in humanities research, and of project management. He previously applied corpus linguistic techniques to analyse the informational content of audio description (Salway, 2007) and co-developed a generalized system of image-text relations (Martinec and Salway, 2005).


Curatorial Voice is funded under the British Academy Digital Research in the Humanities Grants scheme. The project is live between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019).


This project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (exceptions: logos and marked images). Unless otherwise stated, project code is licensed under a GNU General Public License v3.0. As the Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum is a dataset published by the British Museum, data and derived data are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.