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What do you know about your object?
- Does it have a name?
- Is the artist/creator known?
- What region of world is it from?
- What time period is it from?
- Is the function of the object known?
- Is it an isolated object or are there similar ones in the same location or in other parts of the world?
The Information Landscape: what type of information exists about your object?
When researching an object, start by thinking about the question of visibility and prominence:
- Is the object the property of a museum/archive or in a private collection?
- Was the object included in previous exhibitions ? If yes was it at a museum or a gallery ?
- Is the object likely to have been the object of study and research by scholars (archaeologists, art historians) ?
Thinking about visibility and prominence of the object, will help you assess the type of sources that are available:
- Museums and archives provide the following sources of information:
- exhibition catalogs
- organized and described collections
- digitized collections
- curators with subject expertise
- Scholars produce the following sources of information:
- articles in scholarly journals in the fields of archaeology, art history, anthropology, history, religion, etc.
- scholarly books
- conference presentations
- scholars with subject expertise
Getting Started: Background Information
Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures
Comprehensive encyclopedia chronicling the civilizations of the pre-Columbian era up through the colonial and postcolonial periods. Covers art, archaeology, religious studies, anthropology, history, and historiography, in signed articles by the leading scholars in the discipline.
Also available in print: Sawyer Reference F1218.6 .O95 2001
Oxford Art Online
Provides access to the Grove Dictionary of Art and the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, among other titles. Includes information on all aspects of art and an image collection.