The primary mission
of Catena, the Digital Archive of Historic Gardens and Landscapes,
is to fill a void in American higher education by assembling a searchable
collection of historic and contemporary images that include plans,
engravings, paintings, and photographs to make the following possible:
Provide Images for Teaching Landscape Studies
Catena offers a readily available set of images to illustrate classroom
lectures. It thus serves as a means of integrating a relatively
new academic field into the curricula of institutions that, for
lack of visual resources, would not otherwise be able to offer courses
in landscape design history.
Integrate Images and Educational Materials
As an online resource, Catena makes it possible for scholars, teachers,
and students of landscape history to fully integrate images and
contextual materials in a more dynamic manner than is possible with
traditional teaching and study materials.
Provide a Supplement to Textbooks
Digital technology offers an important way to augment the images
found in books, which are necessarily limited because of publishers’
specifications concerning page count and illustration number. A
textbook may have only one or two images of a major landscape site,
but Catena can offer unlimited computer-accessible images.
Better Simulate the Experience of Landscape
Unlike other works of art that can be comprehended in a single view,
landscapes are for the most part spatially extensive and should
be experienced from multiple perspectives and several vantage points.
Catena makes it possible to visually tour landscapes with plans
that are keyed to sequences of views.
Preserve Existing Slide Collections
Catena performs a valuable visual resources preservation function.
Slides have a limited life span. By scanning and cataloging the
images that belong to the personal collections of professors and
landscape photographers, Catena ensures that certain notable collections
of images of historic gardens, parks, and cities are not lost.
The original outline of the mission of Catena was first discussed
at an NEH-sponsored meeting on building a digital archive in March
2002. To view a report on the findings of this meeting, click
Project Team / Participating Institutions / Project Status
Doria Pamphili (Rome, Italy), A pedestal in the bosco, 1640–1798,
from Inigo Triggs, The Art of Garden Design in Italy, 1906.