Scope Shift: Cultivating Opportunity and Building Constituencies: Forays in Copyright, Fellowships, and Internships

  • Sonja Sekely-Rowland University of California, Riverside
Keywords: Visual Resources Center, University of California, UCR, scop shift, SWOT analysis, outreach, external demand, constituency building, Gluck Arts Program, internships, fellowships, copyright, John Dickeson, John Stec, image collections, Color Film Emergency Project, Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)


Visual Resource Centers have sustained dramatic change over the last decade. In the age of Google and internet image searches, image curators and other visual resource professionals have often found themselves in the uncomfortable position of defending their raison d’etre. Those arguments, persuasive and otherwise, impact the long-term, if not permanent, decision making that directly affects access to institutional support for individual research and pedagogy. This paper addresses specific strategies undertaken by the Visual Resource Collection (VRC) in the Department of Art History at the University of California, Riverside, that preempt the need for making such an argument. By cultivating mission transformative opportunities that both anticipate and embrace a shifting scope of work, the VRC has strengthened relationships with its existing core constituency while successfully broadening its service targets. The implementation of copyright research and image licensing workflows, the creation of a funded graduate fellowship, and the development of a credit-bearing undergraduate internship contribute to the understanding of the VRC as a unique resource that strives to provide added value to the department.

Author Biography

Sonja Sekely-Rowland, University of California, Riverside

As the Visual Resources Curator for the department of Art History, at the University of California, Riverside, Sonja Sekely-Rowland directs the activities of the Visual Resources Collection. As an image professional, her work at her UCR is focused on supporting research and pedagogy through the evaluation and expansion of digital assets and analog image collections, improved accessibility to digital collections, development of new programming initiatives, community engagement and outreach, and copyright research and education. Before joining UCR in 2014, Sonja spent five years at Drew University as the Curator of Visual Resources. Prior to that, she spent over 15 years in advertising production where she was responsible for overseeing the commission, production, and reproduction of commercial art for global clients such as IBM, Philip Morris, Dow Jones, and M&M Mars among others. Her expertise includes worldwide negotiation and licensing of artwork across print and electronic media. Sonja holds a Masters degree in Art History from Brooklyn College where she specialized in nineteenth and early-twentieth photography. Her current areas of interest include issues surrounding intellectual property, metadata, and geospatial data.

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