Looking for meticulously curated archives to browse through
June 20, 2014 5:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for archives of... things to look at and meander through. Things like those that I have seen of medieval manuscripts, engravings of pictures of businesses featured on receipts from the 1800s (? not sure of dates), and I guess other things of that ilk.

Really old photos, paintings, things like that would work as well. I want to look at beautiful things in a collection, ideally with a nice interface featuring zoom and easy navigation. I want to explore.

So... what are your favorite archives? I am looking for things that are well-curated, and beautifully presented. I think maybe mostly old things might be what I'm after, but that factor is not required for me to enjoy them. Annotations would be great. I'm looking for things I wouldn't think of myself, really.

What archives / collections would you recommend? I'd be grateful to hear about lovely ones you have seen. I'm figuring a lot of these would be museum or library websites, but I'm not sure where to begin.
posted by marble to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
The U.S. National Archives and the British Library on Flickr.
posted by brentajones at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2014

Definitely check out the Rijksmuseum's online collection.
posted by keeo at 5:24 PM on June 20, 2014

Check out the website BibliOdessy!

posted by see_change at 6:37 PM on June 20, 2014

Digital Public Library of America's Exhibitions are quite interesting.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:25 PM on June 20, 2014

I want to explore.

The David Rumsey Historical Map collection.
posted by TDIpod at 9:51 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Penn In Hand digital manuscript archive
posted by neil pierce at 10:46 PM on June 20, 2014

Seconding Bibliodyssey and offering:

http://wellcomeimages.org/ - interesting medical/historical material

http://www.getty.edu/art/ - the Getty art collection.

http://vintagephoto.livejournal.com/ - not particularly meticulous but my personal favourite for old photo surprises.

http://frda.stanford.edu/en/images - if you're interested in the French Revolution, this is an extensive collection of prints, maps, documents, coins and other artifacts.
posted by valetta at 12:53 AM on June 21, 2014

I enjoy flicking through your paintings - a bbc site that indexes most oil paintings in UK national collections
posted by Middlemarch at 1:46 AM on June 21, 2014

This site sacrifices some in the lack of being "curated" for being really fresh: http://publicdomainreview.org/

They post works newly available for public domain use. Fascinating.
posted by tintexas at 2:30 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aside from a few that have already been mentioned, I've found myself getting lost (in a good way) via MeFi's Own™ Horace Rumpole's projects for Harvard's Houghton Library:
- Houghton Library Tumblr
- Houghton Library Blog

In addition to their presence on Flickr, the British Library has many, many features available on their main website.

I've also enjoyed exploring the online collections at the Library of Congress. The LOC is also on Flickr.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:54 PM on June 21, 2014

TJS Labs Gallery of Graphic Design. Print ads from 1930-1969
posted by SisterHavana at 11:59 AM on June 22, 2014

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