Just two weeks ago, I featured the tremendous digitization project of the Vatican Apostolic Library (VAT), known as DigiVatLib. Since then, two more treasure troves of online resources have come to my attention. I would like to share these with you today.
First, one of the greatest pieces of the world’s cultural inheritance is the Book of Kells. Described by the Annals of Ulster (A.D. 1007) as “the chief relic of the Western world,” the manuscript is a 680-page book of the Gospels, richly decorated in the tradition of Insular illumination. Long attributed to St. Columbkille (d. 597), the manuscript was more likely crafted by later monks of Iona around the year 800. The volume takes its name from the Abbey of Kells (County Meath), where it was housed for centuries, and it is now displayed to the public at Trinity College Library in Dublin. The folios of this manuscript were scanned in 1990, but they were rescanned two decades later with state-of-the-art technology. Since 2013, the entire Book of Kells has been available online. What a gift it is to have this masterpiece so easily accessible.
The second online resource I would like to recommend has only recently become available, courtesy of the Paris Musées, an incorporation of the fourteen city-operated museums of the French capital. Now available on their collections website are 150,000 high-resolution images depicting some of their holdings. Effective January 8, 2020, these digital reproductions are freely available, without charge and without restriction. This decision, according to the museums, “will contribute to enhancing and improving the way our collections are made available and will strengthen the measures taken to ensure better public access to art and culture as well as increasing visibility and understanding of the works in our municipal collections. . . . This policy of free access is part of a programme of development, cultural mediation and opening up of the collections to Internet users.”