Just as the Covid-19 crisis drove us all out of York Minster and into the solitude of our own homes, the York Glaziers Trust’s York Minster Stained Glass Navigator became available, ensuring that we can explore some of the Minster’s more important glass from our laptops, tablets and phones.
In recent years, and especially in connection with the conservation of the Minster’s Great East Window, the YGT has invested in high-resolution digital photography and Nick Teed has become a leading specialist in this field. The Minster’s remarkable collection of stained glass is cared for and preserved by a partnership of the Chapter of York, the York Glaziers Trust and the York Minster Fund. The interpretation and understanding of the glass have been significantly enhanced by art historians from the University of York.
While conventional publications have made these outstanding photographs more widely available, this same partnership has come together to make these images accessible online through the Stained Glass Navigator (Figure 1). Viewers can now explore in detail the Great East Window, entering through a new and unprecedented uninterrupted view of the recently-conserved window, taken from the scaffolding erected in 2019 for the conservation of the Great Organ (Figure 2). The St Cuthbert Window, another of the three great windows framing the high altar, can also be explored through a new set of photographs taken in advance of the conservation of the window scheduled to begin in 2021, its extensive and complex narrative elucidated by the recent doctoral research of Dr Katie Harrison. In the forthcoming months additional windows will be added. As the resource develops, an interactive Minster plan will eventually provide the framework for a self-directed tour of the Minster’s windows.
Each window can be entered and explored using a zoom and pan function that draws the viewer deeper into the image. Individual panels can also be called up in high resolution, accompanied by captions that provide an additional level of iconographic information (Figure 4). Designers and developers of the Navigator, Chris Lawson and James Howard, comment on the technical challenges: “The biggest technical challenge was how to display an enormous photograph without expecting users to sit and wait for it to download. The photograph is split into tiles at various resolutions that are dynamically loaded as the user moves around and zooms in to the image of the window. This means the window displays quickly initially, and high-resolution tiles are only loaded when needed.”
The Navigator can be accessed directly using the link: https://stainedglass-navigator.yorkglazierstrust.org or can be entered from the home page of the YGT website: http://www.yorkglazierstrust.org
Creative and Development