The Visual Resources Collection was founded in 1956 as the UC Riverside Slide and Photograph Collection to support instruction and research in Art History. The collection, located at that time in the Social Sciences - Humanities Building (currently Watkins Hall), was comprised of glossy photographic prints of art and architecture from the Alinari photographic archives. The department subsequently occupied the new Humanities Building (later renamed Olmsted Hall). Each image was dry mounted on photo board and was provided as a non-circulating resource in the Photo-Study Room for students who often formed groups to review for tests and discuss the images.
The analog to digital development of the collection generally follows the course of technological developments from photographic prints to slides in the form of positive transparencies and later 35mm color slides. Digital image technology was integrated in the mid-1990s with the VRC’s development of the Digital Art Tutorial (DAT), a software tool used to access digital images of art and architecture for study purposes.
As digital technology evolved it became an integral part of visual resource collections throughout the UC system. The opportunity arose for collaboration and sharing resources among the UC campuses and developing services for users related to digitization. With grant support from Intercampus Academic Program Incentive Funds, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA) and the oversight and guidance of the California Digital Library (CDL) a federated catalog of digital images, LUCI (Library of UC Images) was developed. Currently UCR participates in UC Shared Images (UCSI), a collaborative, cross-campus program for building an aggregated image collection via the ARTstor digital library’s Shared Shelf platform. ARTstor contains UC campus built collections, as well as several licensed resources and the ARTstor core collection. Together they amount to more than 1.75 million images for the humanities and social sciences. Access to these collections is available to members of the UC community only.
The VRC recently launched AHS Course Images, the online student component of VRC Digital Image Collection. This website features images for student study created in conjunction with specific courses or subject matter and is accessible to those enrolled in art history courses.