Pre-Raphaelites Online (PRO) is an AHRC-funded network that aims to bring together UK and US art galleries and museums with significant Pre-Raphaelite collections; world-leading literary and art-historical scholars with expertise on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; and the nineteenth-century centres associated with the COVE collective both in the UK and the US. We ask, how can we engage the wealth of archival material (in galleries belonging to the network) in a way that generates substantive, original research, particularly in the context of transatlantic Pre-Raphaelitism?
Much Pre-Raphaelite work has been digitized and made publicly available (including, recently, the entire 12,000-work collection of the Delaware Art Museum); PRO will situate and interpret the work in a way that will make it more accessible and useful to students and the general public. Rather than hide academic scholarship in libraries and behind paywalls, we seek to make such academic scholarship-especially scholarship that is grounded in resources held within cultural institutions-a part of the public conversation.
Study of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) is hampered by a few material limitations: many of the significant works are interdisciplinary “double works” that align texts with images; the artwork is dispersed across galleries and individual collections; and the PRB was made up of multiple artists and authors working in a variety of media. We propose dealing with these challenges by promoting collaboration among museum professionals and academic scholars to build upon an online platform that makes it easy to link images, timelines, maps and annotated critical editions of Pre-Raphaelite works and images. The interface and toolset will allow us to bring together curators, art historians, and literary scholars in joint creation of an open-access repository of information about the PRB and the Aesthetic movement. Participants include the most significant galleries dedicated to Pre-Raphaelite work (especially the Delaware Art Museum, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Watts Gallery); libraries that hold PRB material; the most respected online repository of PRB work, Jerome McGann’s Rossetti Archive; and UK Research Centres dedicated to Victorian studies (Exeter’s Centre for Victorian Studies, Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, and Birmingham’s Nineteenth-Century Centre) in joint creation of an online resource devoted to the PRB and its influence on the British Aesthetic movement.
We will build on an already existing infrastructure: The COVE or The Central Online Victorian Educator at http://covecollective.org, an open-access site that makes it possible for multiple people to make additions to one of four interconnected tools: a multimedia annotation tool; a timeline tool; a geospatial map tool; and a gallery-builder. Each tool is designed so that multiple individuals can work simultaneously in joint creation of a resource. Products built with the tools can also be interconnected, with interactive maps embedded in timeline elements, or gallery images associated on the same page with map elements and timeline elements.
COVE supplies the digital infrastructure; the museums supply the digital content; and network members provide the expertise, intellectual curiosity, and enthusiasm to conceive of innovative ways of developing fresh research.
Dr. Rebecca Mitchell, University of Birmingham
Prof. Dino Felluga, Purdue University
Dr. Ana Parejo Vadillo, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr. Paul Young, University of Exeter
John Everett Millais, The Waterfall, Delaware Art Gallery