Short news | Changing Frontiers: Iconographic Archives in the Past and Present

The V&A’s the Chinese Iconography Thesaurus (CIT) project team and the OCAT Institute will be holding the conference titled Changing Frontiers: Iconographic Archives in the Past and Present at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing from 12th to 13th October, 2019.

Focusing on four specific examples of iconographic collections developed in Europe and North America during the last hundred years, the conference will explore the critical issues central to historical and contemporary practices in building image collections for iconographic studies. The conference will offer not only a series of different approaches and perspectives to the problems of iconographic collection building, but also an opportunity to observe historical connections and dynamic interactions between them. The speakers will include Pamela Patton, the Director of the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University; Paul Taylor, the Curator of the Photographic Collection at the Warburg Institute; Hans Brandhorst, the Editor of the Iconographic Classification System (ICONCLASS) and Arkyves in Netherlands; and Zhang Hongxing, the Chief-Editor of the Chinese Iconographic Thesaurus (CIT) and Senior Curator of Chinese Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Following each presentation there will be a discussion and Q&A session moderated by a Chinese scholar.

It is hoped that this public event focusing on Iconographic Collections will not only act as a platform for exchanging ideas and experiences on the subject between Western academics and Chinese students, scholars, and professionals, but also open up opportunities for future collaborations in the use and further development of iconographic collections in China, Europe, and North America.

About the Chinese Iconography Thesaurus at the V&A 


Chinese Iconography Thesaurus (CIT) project was launched by the Asian Department at V&A Museum in 2016. The CIT brings together sinology, art history, and information studies to create the first thesaurus of Chinese iconography. CIT aims to create an indexing standard that will facilitate access and inter-operability of Chinese digital images across collections. It will provide professionals in museums, libraries, and image archives with a controlled vocabulary that will improve the quality of cataloguing practices for Chinese collections. An online database of Chinese art images indexed with the CIT terminology will deliver a dynamic and open-ended research tool that will enable a wide spectrum of users to explore the contents of, and connections between, individual works of art. The CIT terminology will be released in autumn 2019 as an open-access and downloadable document, along with the image database that will contain objects from the V&A as well as The Metropolitan Museum in New York and The Palace Museum in Taipei and will feature browsing and search functions. The outcomes will be made available through the V&A website and a dedicated website hosted by Brill Academic Publishers.