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St. Andrew's School Library: DP Visual Art Resources

DP Visual Art Resources

Visual Art Collage

Museums and Archives

Database Search Tips

1. Use AND to combine keywords and phrases when searching the electronic databases for journal articles. Try China and Film and History.

Unlike in Google and in other search engines, you will not get satisfactory results if you type an entire sentence, such as "the effect of advertising in mass media on teenage consumers." You need to pick out the key phrases, words, and concepts.

  •  advertising and mass media and teenagers and consumers

If you type several words without AND in between, some of the article databases will assume you want only items where those words appear right next to each other, and in that exact order.

2. Use truncation (an asterisk) and wildcards (usually a question mark or exclamation point).

  •  child* and education
  •  globali?ation and analysis

Child* brings up child, children, childhood, and any other word that starts with the root "child." This works in most of the databases.

Globali?ation brings up items with the words globalization or globalisation.

If you don't use truncation and wildcards, some databases will look for an exact match to the words you type, and you may miss some relevant materials.

Warning: If you shorten the root word too much, you will bring up irrelevant items (soc* will bring up society and social and socioeconomic, but also Socrates).

3. Find out if the database you're using has a "subject search" option.

For some topics, subject searching "Art Criticism" works better than keyword searching, which is usually the default. 

This may bring up fewer results, but you'll be searching with more precision.

Use the results of a keyword search to discover subject headings (descriptors) used in the database. Usually, they will appear at the bottom of the article or somewhere in the citation. 

4. Use your imagination.

Think of all the possible ways to express your topic. Brainstorm until you've exhausted all possibilities. 

To get the best results, use the word OR inside parentheses.

  •  try (television or movies or motion pictures)
  •  (teen* or adolescen*) and (girl* or female) and aggression

5. Approach your research like a detective, looking for clues in all that you discover.

As you begin to find information, keep an eye out for the "big names" in your research area-for example, key people and organizations. Notice the names of people who are often quoted in the news; scholars who are doing research on your topic and the universities with which they are affiliated; activists and leaders working on a political or social issue; spokespersons and influential figures. Then, search for books and articles written by them. If a person has spoken at a conference, find out if the conference proceedings are available (on a web site, or in our library, or via interlibrary loan). Check the bibliographies and footnotes in the books and articles you come across, and see if our library holds the materials cited by them. Find out if there is a local or national organization related to your topic. See what information is available on its web site. You might contact the organization by phone or email to find out what information they provide to the public, and whether they have staff that can assist you in getting more information. 

6. When searching for books, use broader terms than when searching for articles.

Subjects and keywords for books usually describe what the whole book is about--the main topics, not every topic covered. In the article databases, the subjects will describe what the article or chapter of a book is about. This means you can sometimes do the "needle in a haystack" searches in the article databases. That kind of search rarely works as well in the library catalog.
7. Don't limit yourself to just one database or one set of search results.

Search a database that covers many subjects (e.g., Academic Search Premier or Scholar OneSearch) as well as a subject-specialized database. The same search phrase entered in two different databases may bring up very different results. If your topic encompasses more than one major subject area-business and art, for example- try searching both a business database and an art database. Ask at the reference desk for our recommendations. Try different phrases; try the same search across multiple databases. Don't be content with the results of one search.

8. And of course, ask a librarian if you have questions!

Don't spin your wheels and waste a lot of time if you get stuck or encounter something confusing. A librarian at the research assistance desk can save you time and help you find better information, more efficiently. For example, we can suggest the best databases for your topic. We can show you the most efficient way to search for articles by a particular author (HINT: usually not by keyword searching). We can advise you on search strategies and techniques tailored to your topic.

9. Use an extension like Zotero to keep track of your breadcrumbs.

Why Use Zotero? Zotero lives right where you work: your web browser—allowing you to quickly grab citations as you research, and then easily create correctly formatted bibliographies.

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a tool that helps you to collectmanage, and cite your references. Using Zotero you can attach PDFs, notes, and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies. Zotero automatically updates itself to work with new online sources and new bibliographic styles. Zotero was built and is supported by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Books from the Rooke Library

DP Visual Art Resources

Helpful websites and databases for IB Visual Arts Students: 

Arcadja Comprehensive artists and painters database. Search over 200k artists, over 4 million items from over 800 auction houses. 

Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America Free Public Online Database. Provided by the Frick Art Reference Library: A database of dealer and collector archives consolidating information about repositories, dealers, collectors, and dealer archives (including dealer photograph archives). This tool provides essential information for scholars working in the fast-growing field of the history of collecting.

Art Discovery Group Catalogue Free Online Library Union Catalogue. Formerly the Virtual Union Catalogue for Art History/VKK, this free search tool is a European specialized union library catalogue. It gives access to more than 6 million records in various European art libraries.

 Art UK is a charity working to transform access to the nation’s art collections. Their website is the showcase for art in every UK public collection and is an ambitious collaboration between over 3,250 British institutions

Artcyclopedia is an index of online museums and image archives: find where the works of over 8000 different fine artists can be viewed online. Artsy’s mission is to expand the art market to support more artists and art in the world. They are a platform for collecting and discovering art.

Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) and Répertoire international de la littérature de l'art (RILA)From the Getty Research Institute BHA and RILA cover European and American visual arts material published between 1975 and 2007.

The British Museum The British Museum’s Collection Online offers everyone unparalleled access to objects in the collection. This innovative database is one of the earliest and most extensive online museum search platforms in the world.

CAMEO: Conservation & Art Materials Encyclopedia Online  CAMEO is a searchable information resource developed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The MATERIALS database contains chemical, physical, visual, and analytical information on historic and contemporary materials used in the production and conservation of artistic, architectural, archaeological, and anthropological materials.

Conservation Information Network (BCIN) Free Online Database. Coverage: 1987 - Present. BCIN is one of three conservation databases first released in 1987. CIN's objective is to facilitate the retrieval and exchange of information concerning conservation and restoration of cultural property. Contains over 190,000 bibliographic citations for conservation literature.

Europeana Collections At Europeana, they work with thousands of European archives, libraries and museums to share cultural heritage for enjoyment, education and research. Europeana Collections provides access to over 50 million digitised items – books, music, artworks and more – with sophisticated search and filter tools to help you find what you’re looking for. 

Their dedicated thematic collections on artfashionmusicphotography and World War I contain galleriesblogs and exhibitions to inform and inspire.

Flickr Commons The Commons was launched on January 16 2008, when they released their pilot project in partnership with The Library of Congress. Home to tens of billions of photos and 2 million groups. was launched in February 2001 as an alternative for expensive stock photography. The idea was to create a site where creative people could exchange their photos for inspiration or work. The site has evolved into the massive community you see today — there are over 2,500,000 registered users and around 400,000 photos online.

Getty Open Content Images Recently, the J. Paul Getty Trust announced that they will be “making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose.” There are now 87,000+ images in that collection.  Images include paintings, manuscripts, drawings, photographs, and more and feature works by masters Rembrandt, Van Gough, David, and more. Open content images are identified with a “Download” link which can be found by clicking into the “Primary Title” link to access the full record.

Getty Research Portal The Getty Research Portal™ is an online search platform providing global access to digitized art history texts in the public domain. Through this multilingual, multicultural union catalog, scholars can search and download complete digital copies of publications for the study of art, architecture, material culture, and related fields. The Portal is free to all users.

The Google Art Project is a free online database which gives Internet browsers the opportunity to view art pieces from all over the world in a gallery-style collection.

The Guggenheim Museum Archive The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Library contains published resources that reflect and inform museum collections and exhibitions, with particular focus on modern and contemporary art, architecture, and photography. Collections include global Guggenheim exhibition catalogues, rare books, the Hilla Rebay Library, as well as an actively growing collection of artist monographs, art criticism and theory, reference materials, and periodicals.

IRIS Consortium Free Online Library Union Catalog. A library union catalog founded in 1993. It is an association of Florentine area art history and humanities libraries.

Index of Medieval Art from Princeton University holdings include images and descriptive data relating to works of art produced between early apostolic times and the sixteenth century. Although the Index of Medieval Art was formerly known as the Index of Christian Art, the collection now includes secular subjects as well as a growing number of subjects from medieval Jewish and Islamic culture. About half of the total records held in the Index are currently online; back-files and new material are added regularly.

The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational and research organization dedicated to integrity in the visual arts. IFAR offers impartial and authoritative information on authenticity, ownership, theft, and other artistic, legal, and ethical issues concerning art objects. IFAR serves as a bridge between the public, and the scholarly and commercial art communities.

Life Photo Archive Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Located on the Pacific Rim, LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of nearly 140,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of artistic expression across the globe. Committed to showcasing a multitude of art histories, LACMA exhibits and interprets works of art from new and unexpected points of view that are informed by the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse population. LACMA’s spirit of experimentation is reflected in its work with artists, technologists, and thought leaders as well as in its regional, national, and global partnerships to share collections and programs, create pioneering initiatives, and engage new audiences.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art When The Met was founded in 1870, it owned not a single work of art. Through the combined efforts of generations of curators, researchers, and collectors, their collection has grown to represent more than 5,000 years of art from across the globe—from the first cities of the ancient world to the works of our time.

The Montias Database of 17th Century Dutch Art Inventories Free Public Online Database Provided by the Frick Art Reference Library: The Frick Art Reference Library hosts a unique database of inventories of Dutch 16th and 17th century art collections compiled by late Yale University Professor John Michael Montias. Drawn largely from the Gemeentearchief in Amsterdam, these inventories contain a wealth of information that can elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying and collecting art in Holland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Morguefile is a free photo archive “for creatives, by creatives.” Founded by Michael Connors in the early Internet days of 1996, the site was created to serve as a free image exchange for creative professionals and teachers to use in their work. This same mission remains true today: they are a community-based free photo site, and all photos found in the Morguefile archive are free for you to download and re-use in your work, be it commercial or not. The photos have been contributed by a wide range of creatives from around the world, ranging from amateur photo hobbyists to professionals.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) Their evolving collection contains almost 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art. More than 80,000 works are currently available online.

The Museum of New Zealand has recently made over 30,000 images available for download and re-use in high resolution as a part of its Collections Online library.  It’s best to search this page after first checking the “with downloadable images” check box so that you only get results that are free for download.  Each image specifies its license, many of which are remixable and have no copyright associated with them at all.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has hi-res image collections available both on their website and on Flickr.  Here you can find images of the Mars Utopian Plain, the moon landing, astronauts, space shuttles, and so much more.  NASA images are generally not copyrighted.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) makes thousands of stunning high resolution images available for download for free.  The photo library is organized into collections such as the National Weather Service Collection containing over 4,000 weather-related images, the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) Collection, the Fisheries Collection, and many more, see the full list of collections here.  The photos can be viewed by browsing the galleries or the catalogues for each collection.  It’s better to view the catalogues in all cases since not all images are included in the galleries.  Most NOAA photos and slides are in the public domain and CANNOT be copyrighted while a few photos are known to have copyright restrictions are so noted. Credit MUST be given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.

The National Archives and Records Administration offers a fantastic library of photographic images including photos of Churchill and Roosevelt, Nixon and Elvis, JFK and Jackie, World War II photos, and many many more historical photos.  You can find many of them through the above-linked online exhibits page, while others are available on their Flickr page,  and thousands more can be found within their Online Catalogue.  All of the U.S. National Archives’ images that are part of The Flickr Commons are marked “no known copyright restrictions.” As for the rest of the site; “generally, materials produced by Federal agencies are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.”

National Gallery of Art With the launch of NGA Images, the National Gallery of Art implements an open access policy for digital images of works of art that the Gallery believes to be in the public domain. Images of these works are now available free of charge for any use, commercial or non-commercial. Users do not need to contact the Gallery for authorization to use these images. They are available for download at the NGA Images website (

New Old Stock Vintage photos from the public archives, free of known copyright restrictions. Recapturing history. 

NYARC Arcade Free Public Online Library Union Catalogue
Arcade is the catalog for three members of the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC). Arcade unites the collections of the Frick Art Reference Library and the libraries of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single gateway, users can access and cross-search Oxford’s acclaimed, regularly updated art reference works: the Grove Dictionary of Art and the Benezit Dictionary of Artists.

Public Domain Pictures (PDPics) is a repository of thousands of free public domain pictures and photographs. Use these stock photos freely in any project.

The Smart Museum of Art As the fine arts museum of the University of Chicago, the Smart is home to thought-provoking exhibitions and an exquisite collection of more than 15,000 objects, including modern masterpieces, millennia-old Chinese artworks, rich examples of European painting, and provocative works of contemporary art.

Spanish Artists from the Fourth to the Twentieth Century: A Critical Dictionary Free Public Online Database. Provided by the Frick Art Reference Library: A dictionary providing essential bibliographic information on more than 5,000 Spanish artists, including comprehensive lists of alternate forms of artist surnames. Since its first publication in 1996, it has been widely acclaimed not only as a valuable reference tool but also as a thorough review of scholarly opinion regarding the artistic identities of numerous anonymous masters.

The United States Department of Agriculture It’s not very well known, but the US Dept of Agriculture has some fantastic high res photos available for download that are copyright-free, public domain, images of crops, animals, insects, food, plants, and more.  I’ve been using their photos for many years now for art projects, there are over 2,000 images in their galleries.

Unsplash Make something awesome. Over 850,000 free (do-whatever-you-want) high-resolution photos brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.

The Wellcome Library in London has made 100,000 art and medicine images available online for open use.  This collection is where to look for offbeat, bizarre photos including medical art of all types including manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements.  The images here are absolutely fantastic.  The images may be used for commercial or personal purposes, with an acknowledgement of the original source (Wellcome Library, London). Their primary goal is to make world’s art accessible to anyone and anywhere. WikiArt already features some 250.000 artworks by 3.000 artists, localized on 7 languages. These artworks are in museums, universities, town halls, and other civic buildings of more than 100 countries. Most of this art is not on public view. With your active involvement, they are planning to cover the entire art history of the Earth, from cave artworks to modern private collections. They also provide you with tools for translation on as many languages as needed.

WikiMedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language. It acts as a common repository for the various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, but you do not need to belong to one of those projects to use media hosted here. The repository is created and maintained not by paid archivists, but by volunteers. The scope of Commons is set out on the project scope pages.







Multiple resources curated by Renaissance College Hong Kong Library.

Add your suggestions here!

Identify Keywords for Your Search

Introduction to keywords

Keywords, also commonly called search terms, are the words that you enter into the database search boxes. They represent the main concepts of your research topic and are the words used in everyday life to describe the topic. Without the right keywords, you may have difficulty finding the articles that you need.

Selecting keywords is a multi-step process that involves:

  • identifying the main concepts of your topic
  • brainstorming synonyms and antonyms that could also be used to describe your topic
  • spell out abbreviations


It is very rare that your first search will bring back perfect results. It takes trial and error to determine which keywords work best for your topic. Be prepared to run multiple searches in your quest for the keywords that will help you find the materials you need.

Turn Your Topic Into Keywords

Turn your topic into keywords

When doing an internet search in Google or Bing, you can enter your complete research question in the search box and get a bunch of results. However, if you enter your entire research question in the Library databases, you probably won't get any results. This is because the library databases look for the exact words that you enter in the search box(es). If the database can't find all of the words that you entered in the search boxes in the information about an article, it won't bring back any results. That's why it's important to search only for the main parts of your topic.

Here is an example of a research question:

What is the relationship between test performance and the retention of ESL students?

The keywords for this topic are listed below:

  • test performance
  • retention
  • ESL students

Use Synonyms and Antonyms as Keywords Search Terms

Synonyms & antonyms

Synonyms are words that have the same or similar meaning. Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning. Both can be helpful when trying to determine relevant keywords for your research topic.

Some topics have many different terms that can be used to describe them. For example, here are some additional keywords that could be used for test performance:

  • Tests     
  • Exams     
  • Test-Taking Skill
  • Test Anxiety     
  • Academic Achievement     
  • Test Preparation


Sometimes when you are researching a specific topic, it can also be helpful to search for the opposite of your topic. For example, if you are interested in student retention, you'll also want to look at student dropouts. Here are some possible synonyms and antonyms for student retention:

  • Student Persistence     
  • Graduation     
  • Dropouts
  • School Holding Power     
  • Student Attrition     
  • Dropout Prevention

Cite an Image You Found on a Website

How to cite a digital image found on a website in MLA 8 from EasyBib:

To create a citation for a digital image found on a website in MLA 8, locate the following pieces of information:

The name of the creator of the digital image
*The title of the digital image
The title of the website that the image was found on
The names of any other contributors responsible for the digital image
Version of the image (if applicable)
Any numbers associated with the image (if applicable)
*The publisher of the image
The date the image was created or published
*The location of the image, such as a URL
*Access Date

If the digital image does not have a title, include a description of the image. Do not place this information in quotation marks or italics.

If the picture was found using Google Images, do not cite Google Images as the publisher. Instead, click on the picture and use the information from the website that is hosting the picture.

When including the URL in the citation, omit “http://” and “https://” from the site’s address. In addition, if the citation will be viewed on a digital device, it is helpful to make it clickable. This ensures that readers will be able to easily access and view the source themselves.

Structure of a citation for an image found on a website in MLA 8:

Creator’s Last name, First name. “Title of the digital image.” Title of the website, First name Last name of any contributors, Version (if applicable), Number (if applicable), Publisher, Publication date, URL. Access Date.

Examples of citations for digital images found on websites in MLA 8:

Vasquez, Gary A. Photograph of Coach K with Team USA. NBC Olympics, USA Today Sports, 5 Aug. 2016, Accessed 24 April 2018.

Gilpin, Laura. “Terraced Houses, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico.” Library of Congress, Reproduction no. LC-USZ62-102170, 1939, Accessed 26 April 2018.