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    View of a fountain in front of the West Building

    Research Projects

    Projects in American Landscape and Garden Design History
    Center 41

    Projects in American Landscape and Garden Design History

    Image Collection page, HEALD (heald.nga.gov)

    This research project focuses on the long-standing digital repository History of Early American Landscape Design (HEALD). In 2021 HEALD launched a newly updated and redesigned site. Many contributions from the Center’s research teams and stakeholders at the National Gallery of Art have developed and sustained the website and research project. Over the past year, Valeria Federici (until August 2021), Matthew J. Westerby, and Abby S. Whitlock (until September 2021) worked to redesign and implement a semantic data structure, partnering with Frida Alombah-Fozo, David Beaudet, John Martin, and other colleagues in digital solutions at the National Gallery, along with an expert third-party vendor.

    Considerable changes were made to improve the experience of navigating and exploring the HEALD project on the web. This resulted in the creation of a new dynamic page: Image Collection. Encouraging a contextualized approach to data analysis, HEALD allows users to search, read, sort, and parse. The project is built on the open-source platform MediaWiki, with custom code freely available for reuse. Custom software packages developed in the redesign project are freely available on GitHub, including a complex date structure designed for humanities and cultural heritage applications. In April 2022, Matthew J. Westerby presented a paper about the project at the Enterprise MediaWiki Conference in Houston, titled “Keywords to Semantics: MediaWiki and the History of Early American Landscape Design.”

    Associate Dean Therese O’Malley retired in September 2021 after 34 years of service to the Center and the National Gallery. After editing the book Keywords in American Landscape Design (2010), she directed the HEALD research project and multiple cohorts of teams, including postdoctoral research associates, assistants, and interns. Her activity with the project continues, and in spring 2022 she was invited to present the project to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. The project will continue to promote HEALD to academic and professional audiences, while sharing lessons learned in the process of building this unique website.

    On the web, HEALD has attracted over 56,000 unique page views in the last year. Contributors to the project, in both its print and digital forms, are listed in the Acknowledgements. The project has been made possible with funds from the Paul Mellon Bequest and the Robert H. Smith Research and Outreach Grant to the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.

    Associate Dean: Therese O’Malley (until September 2021)
    Postdoctoral Research Associate: Valeria Federici (until August 2021) 
    Robert H. Smith Postdoctoral Research Associate: Matthew J. Westerby 
    Assistant to the Program of Research: Abby S. Whitlock (until September 2021)

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