The Gerd Muehsam Award award came into existence in 1980, to honor the memory of Gerd Muehsam (1913-1979), a distinguished scholar, teacher, and art bibliographer, whose support of and dedication to ARLIS/NA was an inspiration to her colleagues and students. From 1977 to 1979, the award presented to student papers was known as the George Wittenborn Award. In 1980, the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award was established to recognize publications in art (formerly known as the Art Publishing Award). Below is a list of all of the recipients of the award to student papers, regardless of the name of the award.


2022: Sam Regal “Preserving [Spectral] Knowledge: Indigeneity, Haunting, and Performing the Embodied Archive”

2021: Jessica Craig, “Computer Vision for Visual Arts Collections. Looking at Algorithmic Bias, Transparency, and Labor.”

2020: Meghan Lyon, “Digital Embodiments of Artists’ Archives: Digitized Collections and Their Web-based Platforms”


2019: Megan Sallabedra, "Finding the Material: Collecting and Protecting Intellectual Property in Ephemeral Works of Art" 

2017: Karly Wildenhaus, "The Use of Library of Congress Classification and Subject Headings for Contemporary Art Materials in the Library"

2016: Jade Finlinson, "Exploring Community Memory and Multiple Understandings of Landscape: Activating UCLA's Department of Geography Air Photo Archives"

2015: Meredith Hale, "In Search of Art: A Log Analysis of the Ackland Art Museum's Collection Search System"

2014: Jasmine Burns, "Digital Facsimiles and the Modern Viewer: Medieval Manuscripts and Archival Practice in the Age of New Media"

2013: Amanda Milbourn, Assistant Librarian at Disney Consumer Products, Glendale, California, "New Literacies=New Models: Using Embedded Librarianship to Proactively Address the Need for Visual Literacy Instruction in Higher Education"

2012: Katrina Windon, University of Texas at Austin, School of Information, "The Right to Decay with Dignity: Documentation and the Negotiation between an Artist's Sanction and the Cultural Interest"

2011: Katherine L. Kelley, University of Wisconsin, Madison, "The Complications of Bridgeman and Copyright (Mis)use"

2010: Diane Bockrath, Digitization Specialist, Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books, The Walters Art Library and Graduate, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, " The Walters Islamic Manuscript Digital Project.

2009: Maureen Whalen, Associate General Counsel, J. Paul Getty Trust and Graduate, UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, "What's Wrong with This Picture? An examination of art historian's attitudes about electronic publishing opportunities."

2008: Rachel Masilamani, University of Pittsburgh, "Documenting Illegal Art: Collaborative Software, Online Environments and New York City's 1970s and 1980s Graffiti Art Movement"

2007: Tang Li, University of Maryland, College Park, "Developing a Shape-and-Composition CBIR Thesaurus for the Traditional Chinese Landscape"

Two major approaches have been identified in image indexing and retrieval: text-based (descriptor-based) and content-based. In the past decade content-based image retrieval (CBIR) has been investigated extensively. Current research has suggested that the two elemental issues in CBIR, feature extraction and similarity measures, tend to be domain-specific. This paper develops a shape-and-composition CBIR thesaurus for the Chinese landscape dated from the Song to Qing periods (960-1911). CBIR is potentially an excellent, feasible retrieval mechanism for Chinese landscapes because the landscapes themselves use relatively simple forms and textures, only a few colors, and a limited number of object types, varieties and composition structures. The features were extracted from studying approximately 1000 Chinese landscapes. The thesaurus emphasizes discrimination among object types so as to improve retrieval of relevant images. Therefore, it adopts not only basic shapes (such as circle, rectangle, and triangle) but also lines (straight, arc and wavy) and shape combinations. Furthermore, special shapes are developed for those object types that are either unique to Chinese arts and culture (linglong-shaped rocks, bamboos and dragon boats.) or in a peculiar shape that cannot be simply abstracted into basic shapes (such as birds and clouds). The thesaurus is designed to facilitate extracting and indexing image content data for effective retrieval performance. Although it is domain specific, the approach of developing and classifying the thesaurus may be applicable to CBIR of non-Chinese art images and perhaps general CBIR.

2006: Megan E. Macken, Indiana University, Bloomington. "The Art Library as Place: the Role of Current Space Planning Paradigms Within the Academic Art and Architecture Library"

2005: Johanna Woll

2003: Ann C. Shincovich. "An Examination of Copyright Issues Related to the Creation of a Digital Resource for the Artists' Book Collection at the Frick Fine Arts Library, University of Pittsburgh."

2002: Donny Smith, Drexel University, Philadelphia. The Surrogate vs. The Thing

As part of a project in ontology building at the Drexel Digital Museum, Drexel University, the author explores the idea of the digital museum as a mere collection of surrogates. This surrogation changes the museum visitor's relationship with the museum objects. In the discussion of surrogation, Walter Benjamin's concept of the mechanical reproduction is contrasted with John Berger's concept of the copy. Further exploration brings to light the differences between representing texts, objects marked with text, and objects not marked with text. For objects not marked with text, there is the additional problem of the different kinds of meanings among various kinds of objects—-for instance, the difficulty of applying Panofsky's iconographical categories for paintings to garments. The writings of Benjamin and Berger on the value and risk of studying objects are compared with those of Theodor Adorno and Emily Dickinson. The author concludes that there are no easy answers to these theoretical questions; for digital museums to be good, a more satisfactory resolution is needed, but in the meantime, mindfulness is necessary as further digital museum work is done.

2001: Alison Gilchrest, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Factors Affecting Controlled Vocabulary Usage in Art Museum Information Systems

This paper describes the results of a study designed to assess the state of controlled vocabulary adoption behavior in United States fine art museums. Personnel responsible for collections data at thirty AAM-accredited art museums were asked to report on aspects of vocabulary control, staff resources and data utilization within their institutions.

Sixty percent of the museums studied reported using at least one controlled vocabulary reference while entering data, and nearly ninety percent use a customized list of local authority terms. Five of five museums reporting that a member of their cataloging staff held a library or information science degree employ both controlled vocabularies and local authorities. The factors affecting adoption of controlled terminology were found to be (in no order): institutional resistance to change, lack of staff time, and training, financial and administrative support. In addition, the complexity of the vocabularies themselves and/or their inability to adequately represent the scope of many collections were also cited as barriers to use.

2000: No award given


1999: Anastasia Mayberry, Kent State University. A Prototype Russian Costume Database/Website: From the Collection of the State History Museum in Moscow, Russia.

1998: Lena Stebley, San Jose State University. Visual Arts Faculty Perspective on Teaching with Digital Images: Results of Focus Groups.

1997: Erika Dowell, Indiana University. Interdisciplinarity and New Methodologies in Art History: A Citation Analysis.

1996: James Andrews & Werner Schweibenz. University of Missouri-Columbia. The Kress Study Collection Virtual Museum Project: A New Medium for Old Masters.

1995: Bradley L. Taylor, University of Michigan. Chenhall's Nomenclature, the Art and Architecture Thesaurus and Issues of Access in America's Artifact Collection.

1994: Diane Torre, Southern Connecticut State University. KSR: Keywording for Subject Retrieval for an Automated Visual Resources Cataloging Project.

1993: Lesley Anne Bell, University of Western Ontario. Gaining Access to Visual Information: Theory, Analysis and Practice of Determining Subjects: A Review of the Literature with Descriptive Abstracts.

1992: Steven Blake Shubert, The Decorative Arts: A Problem in Classification.

1991: Rosann N. Auchstetter, Indiana University. Illustrators and Authors: A Study of the Bobbs-Merrill Archive in the Lilly Library, Indiana University.

1990: no award given


1989: Peter P. Blank, Indiana University. Impact of Personal and Cultural Bias on the Literature of Cameraless Photography: Difficulties in the Literature Search and the Librarian's Response.

1988: Nadine Walter, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Computerization in Research in the Visual Arts.

1987: no award given

1986: Sigrid Docken Mount, Indiana University. Evolution in African Art Exhibition Catalogues.

1985: Alison Chipman, Dalhouise University. Providing Access to Picture Collections: Applying PRECIS to Slides and Photographs.

1984: Jane Dunbar Johnson, UCLA. Main Entry and the Art Exhibition Catalogue.

1983: Nancy M. Pike, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Golden Cockerel Press, 1921-1961.

1982: Jeffrey Weidman, Indiana University. William Rimmer: a Core Bibliography.

1981: Matthes Hogan, Syracuse University. Proposal for a Regional Clearinghouse for Ephemera Related to the Arts.

1980: Kathryn L. Vaughan, University of Chicago. Comparison of Classification and Cataloguing Systems for Slides in the Art Library.


As the George Wittenborn Award:

1979: Barbara Polowy, Syracuse University. Image Classification and the Methodology of Art History.
1978: May Castleberry, Columbia University [A paper on artist’s books]
1977: Karen Markey