Preservation and Access: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Period of Performance

10/1/2008 - 6/30/2011

Funding Totals

$307,500.00 (approved)
$307,500.00 (awarded)

Creating a Digital Resource of Islamic Manuscripts

FAIN: PW-50086-08

Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, MD 21201-5118)
William Noel (Project Director: July 2007 to September 2011)

Cataloging and digitizing 236 Islamic illuminated manuscripts, which contain 53,000 folios that date from the 9th to the 19th centuries. Images and catalog data would be freely accessible via the museum's Web site and available through a portal maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Islamic Manuscripts of the Walters Art Museum: A Digital Resource will turn the illuminated and illustrated Islamic manuscripts of the museum, which are currently inaccessible to all but a tiny minority, into the Islamic Digital Resource (IDR), aiding in their preservation, and making them accessible. WAM?s collection of 236 medieval Islamic manuscripts remains underused both by the public and by scholars in the field, at least in part because the codices have never been catalogued. Current technology now allows for the possibility of cataloguing these books, generating digital images of the bindings of these manuscripts, and the 53,000 folios contained within them, and combining this information to create searchable digital surrogates. Through IDR we expect to open these closed books to all, and to provide different audiences with the information and the interfaces that they will need to mine this invaluable resource.

Associated Products

Islamic Manuscripts (Database/Archive/Digital Edition)
Title: Islamic Manuscripts
Author: Will Noel
Abstract: The Walters’ collection of Islamic Manuscripts showcases masterpieces of illuminated and illustrated manuscripts. The sacred, devotional and non-religious manuscripts presented here were created across the breadth of the Islamic world and date from the 9th through the 19th century. In the Islamic book, the primary vehicle for literary and artistic expression, the powers of poetry, prayer and visual form collide. They bear witness to remarkable achievements in literature and the book arts. Examples include a 15th-century Koran from northern India, executed at the height of the Timurid empire; a luxurious 16th-century copy of the Khamsa by Amir Khusraw, illustrated by a number of famous artists for the emperor Akbar; and a Turkish calligraphy album by Sheik Handullah al Amasi, one of the greatest calligraphers. All images of Islamic manuscripts were created and are provided through a Preservation and Access grant awarded to The Walters Art Museum by the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2008-2010.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:


Davey Award
Date: 11/14/2011
Organization: The International Davey Awards
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