Neil Rudenstine, former president of Harvard University, is to serve as chairman of a digital arts organisation, writes Tim Greenhalgh.
Dr Rudenstine will head ArtSTOR, a non-profit organisation that will maintain and distribute digital resources for the study of art, architecture, design and related fields in the humanities. The aim is to make large collections of high-quality digital images and related archive materials more widely available. ArtSTOR will be sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, of which Dr Rudenstine is a former executive vice-president.
"This is an exciting new undertaking that holds great promise for enhancing the study of the arts and humanities around the world," Dr Rudenstine said.
The venture is a counterpart to JSTOR, initiated by the Mellon Foundation in 1995 to create a digital archive of leading scholarly journals and to make them readily accessible through the worldwide web.
"If you were teaching a course about a leading Renaissance painter, or writing a monograph on a particular architect then ArtSTOR, in time, could offer instantaneous online access to high-quality images of a significant proportion of the relevant works, as well as archival materials that relate to those works," Dr Rudenstine said.
Dr Rudenstine will work with William Bowen, the foundation's president, and ArtSTOR executive director James Shulman to develop the business plan, criteria for determining ArtSTOR's content and database architecture.
The advisory team will also develop intellectual property rights policy and content distribution. ArtSTOR is applying for charity status and is being developed as a Mellon Foundation project.
Mr Bowen said: "There are few ways in which technology can change the basic process of solitary scholarship in the humanities, but I hope that ArtSTOR can introduce some new possibilities."