Join us
Orange welcome sign that reads Royal Geographical Society with IBG.

Become a member and discover where geography can take you.

Join us
A historic watercolour of a woman in a yellow and blue dress being scanned by a spectrometer

Lima to Canton and beyond

An AI-aided heritage materials research platform for studying globalisation through art

Research by Professor Haida Laing and colleagues

The project is funded by AHRC-NEH, runs from 2021 - 2024, and is led by Professor Haida Liang (Nottingham Trent University). Other partners on the project include the Hispanic Society of America; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Royal Horticultural Society; Getty Conservation Institute; Library of Congress; Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery; Smithsonian Institute; Museum of International Folk Art; and the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

The project involves the material analysis of maps and sea charts, scientific illustrations and custom paintings from 10 different collections across the UK and the US. AI tools will be used to support the processing of large data sets, and the results will shed light on the global movement of painting materials, techniques, motifs and practice in the 19th century, with a focus on the relations between the colonial powers and the local artists and cartographers.

The Society is a partner on the project, with analysis being carried out on materials from the Collections. 

Find out more about the project