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Nov 26 2018 - 07:00 PM
Smarthistory Brings Open Access to Art History

"We’re on a mission to open museums and cultural sites up to the world, one video at a time. We’re creating world-class resources on art and cultural objects for learners from around the globe—for free." (Smarthistory)

The Art History Textbook of the Future

Smarthistory is a nonprofit that produces free educational resources, aiming to bring the world of art history to students, educators, and other learners. A team of contributors writes blog posts, films educational videos for its YouTube channel, and catalogs thousands of high-resolution images for its Flickr page.

The organization bills itself as a kind of "open textbook" of the future. Unlike a traditional textbook, the content is free and updated weekly. All of the materials are published under a Creative Commons license, accessible to anyone for non-commercial purposes. Users do not even need to sign up to access this expansive library of art history resources.

While much of the content is intended for a general audience, Smarthistory also offers resources for those teaching formal classes on the subject. Educators can freely access curated videos, images, and essays designed for AP Art History and A-Levels. In addition, the site hosts full syllabi for a range of art history courses, such as Modern Art in Europe and North America.

Bridging Cultural Divides

Art history shouldn’t be confined to the Western world, and Smarthistory’s collection spans the globe. The nonprofit hopes that through its content, people will begin larger conversations regarding faith, class, race, gender, and power. Users can find cultural resources ranging from prehistoric times up through the modern era, in Africa, the Americas, the Islamic world, and Oceania. That said, the syllabi currently available only focus on Western art history.


Smarthistory is always looking for contributors to add new and relevant content to the site. Contributors must be well qualified, including those with a Ph.D., significant teaching experience, or other unique qualifications related to art history. The site is also looking for scholars in other similar fields like archaeology, anthropology, and conservation.

Image: by Dustin Gaffke, via Flickr
|By: Ryan Allen|1212 Reads