Inter-American Institute

providing images for education since 1988

About Us


The Inter-American Institute for Advanced Studies in Cultural History was organized to promote interdisciplinary research and publication by scholars working in Latin-American cultural history. The Institute sponsored several major conferences related to Latin American history and initiated and led a ground breaking team research project investigating epidemic disease outbreaks and their causes in early Colonial Mexico and the Andean region of the late Imperial Inca hegemony. The results of this project have since been published, but are also available here on this website under the research tab. Over time the emphasis has gradually shifted to conducting annual field work aimed at providing thematically organized visual resources for research and instruction at the university level across a variety of cultural and geographical areas.

Field research conducted between 1988 and 1995 in Spain, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and regions of the United States formerly colonized by the Spanish Empire resulted in an extensive archive of thousands of images documenting art and architecture of Spain from the Roman Imperial era to the present, but especially focused on 16th century Plateresque architecture; as well as the Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and modern periods in Latin America. These images have now been digitized and catalogued and are available by perpetual license to accredited universities and educational institutions for non-profit use in research and instruction.

In 1989 participation in a travelling seminar examining medieval art and architecture of the Pilgrimage Routes to Santiago de Compostela provided the foundation for a collection of images documenting Romanesque and Gothic art and Architecture in Europe, with a special focus on France. These images have been digitized and catalogued. Over the years this collection has grown to include many thousands of born digital images of some of the great cathedrals as well as rural churches and villages, all available now by perpetual license for educational purposes.

In 2005, images detailing Islamic art and architecture in Spain attracted the attention of Tammi Moe, Head of Digital Collections and Archives at VCUQatar, who was then building a collection of visual resources to support research and instruction in Islamic cultural history. At her request the Institute submitted a series of proposals that resulted in the creation of a collection of images documenting the Islamic world from Morocco across North Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia. These sets also include images of art and architecture from the modern contemporary era as well as pre-Islamic times and more recent colonial periods to provide the necessary context for better understanding the cultural evolution of these areas. This collection includes tens of thousands of born digital images, all available now by perpetual license for educational purposes.

Over the years field research in the United States, and especially in Virginia, has provided opportunities for documenting significant examples of American architecture by Thomas Jefferson, Robert Mills, and Benjamin Latrobe, among many others, as well as regional vernacular architecture in the Southwest, New England, Virginia, and French Colonial Missouri, among other areas. There are also studies of urban fabric including treatments of various American cities such as Charleston, Richmond, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington DC, among others. Over the last few years special attention has been given to systematically documenting Shaker architecture in New England and elsewhere. All of these images are available now by perpetual license for educational purposes.

Currently, field research is focused on the architecture of Eastern and Central Europe of all periods, with emphasis on Romanesque and Gothic buildings, but also including wherever possible significant examples of Jewish cultural history, such as museum collections, synagogues, cemeteries, and urban fabric.

In addition to the offerings in the existing collections, special requests for new material are welcomed, from a few images intended for a particular course to the development of complete collections for departmental or campus wide use.