What is MESL?
----- The Museum Educational Site Licensing Project: a two-year collaborative research effort among 7 museum and 7 universities to share digital images. MESL is an initiative of the Getty Art History Information Project. The images vary widely; you may find it useful to view sample images and read about the collections.

Where do the images come from?
----- There are 7 contributing institutions: this and other information about MESL can be found at the main MESL web site:

What universities are involved?
----- There are 7 participating universities:

Who is involved at Cornell?
----- there are numerous campus institutions and individuals involved in MESL: this and other information about the use of MESL at Cornell is available at the CU-MESL home page: Below is a brief listing of the institutions involved:

College of Architecture, Art & Planning: Art Department & Visual Resources Facility
College of Arts & Sciences: History of Art Department
Cornell Theory Center
Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, University Library
Fine Arts Library
Interactive Multimedia Group (IMG)
Johnson Museum of Art


Who is allowed to use this site?
----- The MESL site is available to everyone at Cornell. There are several courses at Cornell that are using the images in MESL but its use is by no means limited to those courses.

Are there restrictions?
----- As you will find in any digital environment, it is very easy to bend or break the rules so restrictions are difficult to enforce.
This doesn't mean that there aren't any restrictions: please read and adhere to the Conditions of Use.

Can I print out the images?
----- It is assumed that students and faculty will use the MESL images in a variety of ways. Printing the images or incorporating the images within other documents is not prohibited.

What about copyright?
----- The copyright of the images belongs to the image-providing institutions. If you need to make use of the images in a way that goes beyond the Conditions of Use, you must contact the image-providing institutions directly.

I am a faculty member interested in using MESL images in my courses. How can I become involved? Where can I get information/help?
----- The first step is to contact the Cornell MESL Project Coordinator, Noni Korf Vidal, via e-mail: or phone: 255-3530.


I'm having trouble searching! Why?
-----The MESL image collection includes about 4,700 images from 7 different institutions. There are paintings, photographs, sculpture, furniture, jewelry, ceramics, textiles and numerous other categories of cultural artifacts. The objects date from -1800 (1800 B.C.) through 1992. Although the images have been united to form a single MESL image database, it is important to keep in mind that the indexing and descriptions of these images was made by 7 discreet institutions. The indexing system used at each of the institutions is unique to its organization. This means that the search terms will vary widely among institutions and, consequently, among images. In short, searching may at times be frustrating because of the inconsistent nature of the indexing.

How can I get better search results?
----- Searching is a complex activity. In MESL it is especially complex because MESL is a collection of collections, i.e. the images in MESL have been catalogued by 7 different institutions and the data within each field of information varies greatly. Review the Search Tips. Review the Field Definitions and Examples of Search Terms (these are linked off the field names on the main Search page ). Remember that searching is an iterative activity--when you find an image that you do want, note the data that accompanies the image and try another search using those terms. For example, for the field name OBJECT TYPE, here are the search terms used by a few of the institutions:

Definition: The classification of the object by type.
FMCH: Stirrup spout bottle , Two-piece mold
HUAM: Architectural element, Stained glass
MFAH: DECORATIVE ART; Double Mazer Cup with cover; Woodwork; Metalwork
NGA: Decorative Art;Ceramic;Plate
NMAA: graphic art

What is the difference between Image Search Mode and Text-Only Mode?
----- When you use Image Search Mode your resulting query will be displayed as a group of small images with up to 5 fields of data. Clicking on the image will link you to a screen size image with ALL the data that accompanies the image. From there you can link to a high resolution image. The Text-Only mode allows for faster display of query results. (This mode is equivalent to turning off the "Auto Load Images" feature in Netscape.) The same information is returned but instead of viewing small images, the filenames of images are displayed. Again, clicking on a filename will link you to the full data and screen size image and lead you to a link to download the high resolution image.

How can I speed up my searching?
----- At any given moment, search speeds will depend partly upon the speed of the network and partly on the complexity of your search query. If you are consistently having trouble with your searches, please contact the Cornell MESL Project Coordinator.


Is MESL only available on with Netscape on the Web?
----- No, there is also a CD-ROM version of MESL. If you would like to view this (Macintosh-only) CD, please contact the Cornell MESL Project Coordinator. Since Netscape is the web browsing software supported by CIT, and is therefore the most widely available on campus, we have tailored the site to work best with Netscape.

The images are splotchy on my monitor--why?
----- The screen size and thumbnail images are 24-bit color JPEG files. If your monitor is not capable of displaying 24 bit color the images will not display properly. All of the computers at the CIT public computer labs have monitors capable of displaying 24-bit color. Alternatively you could download images and convert them to 8bit color using image editing software.

What software is used at the CU-MESL site?
----- The data for the 4700 images is stored in Filemaker Pro 3.0, the cgi used is rofm, the server software is WebStar. The site is run from a Macintosh at the Cornell Theory Center. The images were resized and standardized using DeBabelizer.

What is new at this site?
----- We are frequently making changes to this site. Recently we added examples of search terms used by the institutions. These links can be found following the field definitions on the search form. We also just moved to Filemaker Pro 3.0 so now we have enabled the ability to sort the search results.

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